Empathy is only one side of compassion?

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)

Empathy is only one side of compassion?

Postby samesong » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:20 am

I'm reviewing the notes I took from The Power of Now, and Tolle wrote the following:

• To have deep empathy for the suffering of another being certainly requires a high degree of consciousness but represents only one side of compassion.
○ True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life


What does he mean by compassion going beyond empathy and sympathy? How does sadness merging with joy employ compassion?
I'm still unclear of the differences between compassion and empathy. I would be sincerely grateful if anybody could elucidate what he means.
samesong
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:14 am

Re: Empathy is only one side of compassion?

Postby the key master » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:25 am

Hi samesong. Cool name.

I would not say sadness merging with joy employs compassion, but that true compassion allows sadness and the joy of being to merge.

Consciousness is not limited to the contents of consciousness. If you thought time and space limited you, and then realized that they don't, you'd be happy about it, a happiness not caused by anything happening in time or space. That's the joy of being. All the other folks who are experiencing the sadness of being limited aren't really other folks. They're in the same consciousness you are, are the same consciousness you are, and don't really have anything to be sad about.

As far as the difference between empathy and compassion, I kinda use them interchangeably myself. Maybe empathy is feeling what someone else is feeling, while compassion is knowing what to do about it. I dunno just spit ballin here.
the key master
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 4:23 pm

Re: Empathy is only one side of compassion?

Postby Webwanderer » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:49 am

What does he mean by compassion going beyond empathy and sympathy? How does sadness merging with joy employ compassion?


I think the key phrase here is:
It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life


My sense is that he is referring to a perspective from the greater reality of being. From the perspective of non-physical reality, life in this human form is seen more clearly. From there, sadness and joy, as is all experience, seen with an aware degree of equanimity. One is not better than the other in that they are both valuable experiences in the expansion of consciousness. Thus their value 'merges' in the unconditional appreciation of all experience.

I think Tolle is also suggesting this: To the degree we can get a sense of our greater nature while yet in human form, we can mitigate some of the negative aspects of experiencing sadness or pain simply by living with the recognition that we are essentially greater beings than our human experience would suggest. In that greater perspective, merger, or inclusiveness, is possible.

WW
User avatar
Webwanderer
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6278
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 12:03 am

Re: Empathy is only one side of compassion?

Postby smiileyjen101 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:46 am

To have deep empathy for the suffering of another being certainly requires a high degree of consciousness but represents only one side of compassion.
○ True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life


samesong said:
I'm still unclear of the differences between compassion and empathy. I would be sincerely grateful if anybody could elucidate what he means.


Great musing samesong. The differences for me is that Empathy is the recognition, and the allowing oneself to view and accept a thing from another's perspective. The key with empathy in consciousness is recognising not just the experience that another is experiencing, but also being conscious that it is the 'other' that is experiencing it within their own awareness, capacity & willingness.

So the acceptance for us, the employing the high degree of consciousness is not of the circumstance, it is acceptance of their view, their awareness, capacity & willingness in that experience or circumstance.

The important part in recognising that it is their view, their awareness, capacity, willingness is so we don't overwhelm into being disrespectful in terms of boundaries and whose choices are impending leading to making judgements or making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of any of it. It entails our own awareness, capacity & willingness to suspend our perspective for that of another's.

In consciousness ET says one is in a modality of either acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm. In egoic modality we make enemy, obstacle or means to an end of a thing, situation or person. Keeping this in mind one can see when one is experiencing true empathy in consciousness. If one falls to blaming, judgements, etc we've moved out of conscious modalities into unconscious ones. That can be tricky in the face of suffering, but it creates more suffering for ourselves and others when we do.

Some people confuse empathy with sympathy - but they too are 'different' empathy is willing to allow that perspective of an experience within our own cognition, sympathy stands apart from it. In a way, empathy says I'm with you, I understand/accept your suffering, sympathy says I see you're suffering and I feel sorry for you, but I don't really want to understand/share it from the inside. This is not without care for the person suffering, but because one is not sharing the available perspectives, in unconsciousness sympathy can quickly lead to pity, and pity creates more separation of the perspectives. In a way empathy says 'me too' (opens to it), sympathy says 'you, not me' (recognise/accepts the sorrow of the situation, but closes to another's experience of it), pity builds a wall of separation so they are touched even less.

What does he mean by compassion going beyond empathy and sympathy?


Dalai Lama defines Compassion as wishing that oneself and others be free from suffering.


For me, Compassion is like the rocket fuel that boots and all embraces the 'reality' of suffering while having the intention of easing it through raising our awareness, capacity & willingness consciously. Often it's not the physical 'what is' experience that is creating the suffering, it's the perspective about it. Pain and sorrow are a given, a natural part of our experiences, for the most part they are transitory and they move us into greater awareness, capacity & willingness to be conscious. If we respond making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of a person, thing or experience we feed the suffering, even if we are doing that with good intention on the part of another who is suffering in their experience.

Compassion sits with - the pain, the sorrows, the frustrations when our capacity is overwhelmed, the mis-takes when our awareness is blinkered, and the fear that inhibits our willingness.
It still says, me too.

I'll answer the other question in the following post.
Last edited by smiileyjen101 on Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
http://www.balancinginfluences.com
User avatar
smiileyjen101
 
Posts: 3688
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:44 am

Re: Empathy is only one side of compassion?

Postby smiileyjen101 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:11 am

How does sadness merging with joy employ compassion?
...yum/ouch :wink:

Compassion opens you to all perspectives and experiences. In awareness one realises that they are of the same 'degrees' of experience. You cannot experience joy more fully than you can experience sadness - your capacity for both is the same. The source of both is the same.

Kahlil Gibran in the Prophet says it thus -
'Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.

This is true - our capacity, our awareness, our willingness grows with each experience that we embrace with compassion, it carves away at our fears and our cloaks of judgement, separation, and allows us to experience more fully.

KG - 'When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.'

I said to a 'compassionate friend' once that we cannot cry more tears than love and laughter we've enjoyed with our children no longer with us, and she was breathless with the realisation of the truth/and enormity of that. She said, oh Jen, that's an awful lot of tears.

...Yup. Every tear is an equal expression of our joys in/of the self same thing. It just is, and there is much peace to be had with the acceptance of that.

Compassion in awareness accepts both the joys and the sorrows, they are both fleeting in the grand scale of creation, they both can be experienced fully, or by degrees, but one cannot be experienced more fully than the other, or indeed one without the other.

Hence, with compassion in awareness, one merges with the other.

Gibran says it as -
Some of you say 'Joy is greater than sorrow.' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.' But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.



To go back to ET -
True compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy. It does not happen until sadness merges with joy, the joy of Being beyond form, the joy of eternal life.


Whether it is compassion for self or others, one recognises that these joys and sorrows are experienced within the limitations of 'form'. They do not define us, even if they influence us to either open up, or close down, to accept and embrace or separate and cloak our (form) selves.

An example of compassion going beyond empathy or sympathy is peace activist Azim Khamisa on learning that his son had been shot and killed in a random shooting. After buckling overwhelmed, on recovery his realisation - and acceptance was that there were two victims and two families that would suffer equally from this event - one on each end of the gun.

This acceptance fuelled - allowed, embraced, working with & within the reality of it, with the shooter and his family. That, for me, is true compassion.
The Dalai Lama also shows compassion in action having merged his joys and his sorrows.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
http://www.balancinginfluences.com
User avatar
smiileyjen101
 
Posts: 3688
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:44 am


Return to Questions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest