Empathy

The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real state, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.

Empathy is the foundation for a developed moral character. Without it, we can’t feel how others respond to our actions, or we may not care. With it, we are able to sense vicariously what others feel when we connect with them and in so doing build lasting emotional bonds.

Empathy is not merely the basic principle of artistic creation. It is also the only path by which one can reach the truth about life and society.

Respect is not carried in great, bold proclamations, but in small moments of surprising intimacy and empathy.

What the schools can teach is what we value as a community… love, empathy, caring, cooperation, commitment to others, spiritual and ethical sensitivity, respect for difference, self-discipline, tolerance and honesty.

Authentic humanity evolves to the extent that blind egotism erodes. To expand the heart and mind in ever-wider circles of empathy so that, starting with oneself, those circles embrace one’s family, one’s community, one’s nation, and finally humanity - this is the Confucian aim.

Intelligence alone, without wisdom and empathy for suffering, is hollow.

The secular or freethinking humanist looks into the self for guidance; response to need comes from deep human feelings of compassion, concern for others, and a desire to help. The freethinker is not motivated by a divine command to act, but rather by personal humanistic response to pain, loneliness, hunger, and homelessness. Benevolent actions are not accompanied by a need to convert or indoctrinate, but rather flow from deep human wellsprings of empathy and a desire to improve the condition of the world.

Where love, trust, mutual aid, equality, and empathy are not linked, the boot, whip, warring, modern inquisitors, and their epigones will supply a rhetoric that accepts humanity's fate as tragic while doing everything to perpetuate that tragedy.

Expression has a different tone from communication; it involves not only sharing one's own emotional reality but encouraging others to do the same... Emotional self-expression - sharing their authentic feelings honestly and directly and encouraging others to do the same... cultivate empathy but avoid sympathy.

I can foresee a day when education will routinely include inculcating essential human competencies such as self-awareness, self-control, and empathy, and the arts of listening, resolving conflicts, and cooperation.

Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao.

History is taught with little regard to the ecology, the economics, the sociology or psychology - let alone the biology - that are necessary to understand human action. The same is true of all other academic subjects. Yet if we continue to teach physics separately from ethics, or molecular biology without concern for empathy, the chances of a monstrous evolutionary miscarriage are going to increase. To avoid these possibilities, it is imperative to begin thinking about a truly integrative, global education that takes seriously the actual interconnectedness of causes and effects.

Through empathy a man learns not to judge others in terms of his own personal interests, likes and dislikes, but in terms of what life means to them.

Consciousness evolution is from the ego-bound to the transpersonal form. If this is so, it is a source of great hope. Transpersonal consciousness is open to more of the information that reaches the brain than the dominant consciousness of today. This could have momentous consequences. It could produce greater empathy among people, and greater sensitivity to animals, plants, and the entire biosphere. It could create subtle contact with other parts of the cosmos. It could change our world. A society hallmarked by transpersonal consciousness is not likely to be materialistic and self-centered; it would be more deeply and widely informed.

It is notable how little empathy is cultivated or valued in our society. I put this down to our traditional racism and obsessive sectarianism. Even so, one would think that we would be encouraged to project ourselves into the character of someone of a different race or class, if only to be able to control him. But no effort is made.

Intelligence alone, without wisdom and empathy for suffering, is hollow.

Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao.

Since birth we have been able to resonate with other human beings. A newborn cries when in the presence of other crying babies. Bit by bit, empathy – which at first is only a simple instinctual capacity to resonate – develops and becomes the capacity to understand other people’s feelings and points of view, to identify with them. But if this capacity does not develop sufficiently or if it is thwarted, we are in trouble. If we are insensitive to the emotions of others, each relationship becomes an impossible charade. And if we see others not as living subjects but as things, on par with a refrigerator or a street lamp, we allow ourselves to manipulate and even to violate them.

Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.