In Western medical ethics, compassion serves mainly to define the responsibilities and duties of medical professionals. In contrast, Eastern medical ethics consider developing compassion as a prerequisite in becoming a physician and recognise its curing effects. In the traditional medicine of Tibet and Mongolia, where Mahayana buddhism prevails, a physician is seen as an enlightened person who has been thoroughly trained in Buddhist philosophy. In order to become a physician, one should develop compassion, which is considered as a path to enlightenment. Compassion is not a characteristic but a skill used for therapeutic purposes, which should be mastered through training and meditation, stage by stage.