Compassion can be roughly defined in terms of a state of mind that is
nonviolent, nonharming, and nonaggressive. It is a mental attitude
based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is
associated with a sense of committment, responsibility, and repect
towards the other.
Now, when people speak of compassion, I think that there is often a
danger of confusing compassion with attachment. So when we discuss
compassion, we must first make a distinction between two types of
love or compassion. One kind of compassion is tinged with attachment
-- the feeling of controlling someone, or loving someone so that
person will love you back. This ordinary type of love or compassion
is quite partial and biased. And a relationship based on that alone
is unstable. That kind of partial relationship, based on perceiving
and identifying the person as a friend, may lead to a certain
emotional attachment and a feeling of closeness. But if there is a
slight change in the situation, a disagreement perhaps, or if your
friend does something to make you angry, then all of a sudden your
mental projection changes; the concept of 'my friend' is no longer
there. Then you'll find the emotional attachment evaporating, and
instead of that feeling of love and concern, you may have a feeling
of hatred. So, that kind of love, based on attachment, can be
closely linked with hatred.
-- Dalai Lama in "The Art of Happiness"