Eckhart Tolle: His Story Of Enlightenment

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eckhart-tolle

Following is the Introduction of the book – “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I found it so amazing that I felt compelled to share it with everyone. It is the story of enlightenment of Eckhart Tolle, in his own words.

I have little use for the past and rarely think about it; however, I would briefly like to tell you how I came to be a spiritual teacher and how this book came into existence. Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.

One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.

“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. `Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the `I’ and the `self’ that `I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.

I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.

That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.

For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.

I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me. I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind. This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that I had originally perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison. A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.

But even the most beautiful experiences come and go. More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then. Sometimes it is very strong, almost palpable, and others can feel it too. At other times, it is somewhere in the background, like a distant melody.

Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?” And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is malting too much noise.” That answer later grew into the book that you are holding in your hands.

Before I knew it, I had an external identity again. I had become a spiritual teacher.

Relationships, Mind Games, Mindfulness and Honesty!

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In the modern world of spirituality and conscious relationships, detachment is considered to be one of the fundamental pillars of conscious living and loving.

The concept of detachment comes from Hindu and Buddhist spirituality. Detachment, or non-attachment, is the result of repeated spiritual perceptions that cause us to be strongly rooted in our sense of Self. This higher Self remains unaffected by the fluctuations of daily life.

It is that witnessing part in ourselves that always feels at peace and simply observes what comes and goes. It is that part that knows that “time heals all wounds.” In reality though, on top of this higher Self, we all have developed a personality that is shaped by our past experiences. This personality carries hopes, dreams, and emotional pain. These aspects of our personality, when not made peace with, keep us identified with our personality and therefore weaken our roots in the Self.

Unfortunately, many spiritual practitioners subscribe to the idealistic worldview that is presented in spiritual lore and artificially apply it because it somehow “makes sense.” While non-attachment is a beautiful and elevated quality that can bring a lot of peace and love into your life, its misapplication can be dangerous for your well-being and of those around you.

Non-attachment is a spontaneous quality of someone who has ceased to identify with the personality parts of himself. When non-attachment does not come naturally or when it is something we are striving for or a technique we are applying, it can result in emotional suppression.

Let me illustrate this with an example from one of my open-relationships. The partner I loved had laid his eyes on another woman and decided that he wanted to date her. While I kept telling myself that I love him and therefore I was happy he was having a great time, my heart suffered. I felt as if he didn’t love me enough by putting me through such hardship. Intellectually, I believed in unconditional love but emotionally I wasn’t ready for it.

Non-attachment is not about not caring but rather requires a deep and intimate experience of life. Unfortunately, my partner was the type who tried to apply “spiritual concepts” to control me. Instead of acknowledging my pain and asking how he could help me, he simply gave me a lecture on non-attachment, on the very things I already knew.

I felt as if I was failing because I was unable to be detached. I suffered because I felt as if my partner was punishing me for feeling hurt. This self-judgment is how we create a vicious cycle of emotional suppression. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, people who tend to suppress their emotions are usually unaware of it and are often those with tender hearts who genuinely love unconditionally, but who suffer as a result.

Emotional suppression is one of the main causes for disease. In the long run, suppressing our emotions leads to a suppression of the immune system. It is one of the factors thought to play an important role in a variety of diseases and syndromes such as anxiety, depression, cancer, fibromyalgia, auto-immune diseases and heart problems.

Spiritual practice requires a high level of awareness and radical honesty with ourselves. If non-attachment is not our natural response, we have to make sure we recognize it. Our ego wants us to believe we already are a fully evolved person. Rather than “practicing detachment” in such occasions, we can practicing mindfulness instead.

Mindfulness is the non-judgmental observation of sensations, feelings, and thoughts as they happen in the here and now. If we feel pain, we recognize and acknowledge it without attaching any meaning to it or creating a story out of it.

Mindfulness, rather than imposing non-attachment, requires us to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the truth of our emotions and thoughts, without suppressing them. As a result, we have to make peace with ourselves and brutally accept where we’re at including what our wounds and challenges are.

The desire to be detached, preach detachment, and wish it for others is an idealistic drive that belongs to the realm of the ego. It is often a form of escapism resulting from the personality that suffers from the lack of acceptance of the present moment. Acknowledging our pain, and practicing equanimity towards it, involves a surrendering of the ego that wants to be and feel a certain way. This doesn’t mean we should give up on the idea of non-attachment. On the contrary, it’s an invitation to bring more awareness and honesty into the practice.

As conscious people, we need to befriend our own ego if we desire to bring consciousness into our relationships. We need to recognize its good and dark parts, and simply witness the different aspects of the ego as just another aspect of yourself. By establishing ourselves in that part of us that is able to see the play of reality, we witness the reactions of our personality and its wishes and dreams. We need to observe with radical honesty and transparency the challenges our personality needs to experience. Knowing our deepest desire, most heartfelt pain, and deepest longing can reveal to us the purpose of our life. Next time you experience pain, rather than running away from it, let it guide you to discover your deepest truths and the meaning of your life.

Rather than suppressing our emotions, we need to find harmonious ways of expressing them to our partners. As partners, we need to provide the support to our loved ones so they feel safe to express their true feelings and emotions without feeling judged.

Conscious loving takes hard work, and the danger of escaping into spiritual ideals and dreams when things get rough lies just around the corner. Conscious relationships are those in which we explore and work through our vulnerabilities and heal our deepest wounds with a partner who is committed to doing the same inner work. Relationships can be a great tool for transformation and personal development when they are done consciously, with mutual respect and love, and a deep caring for one another. The person who develops the emotional maturity necessary to support another human being will discover the gift of having been helped in return through the very same process.

Source:
The Health Dangers of Practicing Detachment in Relationships.

10 Thinking Errors That Will Crush Your Mental Strength

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Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach—managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances.

While all three areas can be a struggle, it’s often our thoughts that make it most difficult to be mentally strong.

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Quite often, however, our conscious thoughts aren’t realistic; they’re irrational and inaccurate. Believing our irrational thoughts can lead to problems including communication issues, relationship problems, and unhealthy decisions.

Whether you’re striving to reach personal or professional goals, the key to success often starts with recognizing and replacing inaccurate thoughts. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these 10 categories, which are adapted from David Burns’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (link is external).

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
Sometimes we see things as being black or white: Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind—the good ones and the bad ones. Or maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.

2. Overgeneralizing
It’s easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our life. If you failed to close one deal, you may decide, “I’m bad at closing deals.” Or if you are treated poorly by one family member, you might think, “Everyone in my family is rude.” Take notice of times when an incident may apply to only one specific situation, instead of all other areas of life.

3. Filtering Out the Positive
If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred. Or maybe we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Develop a balanced outlook by noticing both the positive and the negative.

4. Mind-Reading
We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. Thinking things like, “He must have thought I was stupid at the meeting,” makes inferences that aren’t necessarily based on reality. Remind yourself that you may not be making accurate guesses about other people’s perceptions.

5. Catastrophizing
Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your financial goals one month you may think, “I’m going to end up bankrupt,” or “I’ll never have enough money to retire,” even though there’s no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It can be easy to get swept up into catastrophizing a situation once your thoughts become negative. When you begin predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself that there are many other potential outcomes.

6. Emotional Reasoning
Our emotions aren’t always based on reality but we often assume those feelings are rational. If you’re worried about making a career change, you might assume, “If I’m this scared about it, I just shouldn’t change jobs.” Or, you may be tempted to assume, “If I feel like a loser, I must be a loser.” It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts.

7. Labeling
Labeling involves putting a name to something. Instead of thinking, “He made a mistake,” you might label your neighbor as “an idiot.” Labeling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. Notice when you try to categorize things and work to avoid placing mental labels on everything.

8. Fortune-telling
Although none of us knows what will happen in the future, we sometimes like to try our hand at fortune-telling. We think things like, “I’m going to embarrass myself tomorrow,” or “If I go on a diet, I’ll probably just gain weight.” These types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you’re not careful. When you’re predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes.

9. Personalization
As much as we’d like to say we don’t think the world revolves around us, it’s easy to personalize everything. If a friend doesn’t call back, you may assume, “She must be mad at me,” or if a co-worker is grumpy, you might conclude, “He doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.

10. Unreal Ideal
Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, “I should have been able to do that,” isn’t helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way. Rather than measuring your life against someone else’s, commit to focusing on your own path to success.

Fixing Thinking Errors
Once you recognize your thinking errors, you can begin trying to challenge those thoughts. Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then, you can begin replacing them with more realistic thoughts.

The goal doesn’t need to be to replace negative thoughts with overly idealistic or positive ones. Instead, replace them with realistic thoughts. Changing the way you think takes a lot of effort initially, but with practice, you’ll notice big changes—not just in the way you think, but also in the way you feel and behave. You can make peace with the past, look at the present differently, and think about the future in a way that will support your chances of reaching your goals.

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and an internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (link is external), is filled with strategies and exercises to help you avoid those common pitfalls that can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Watch the video trailer below to learn about her personal story behind the book.

Source:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201501/10-thinking-errors-will-crush-your-mental-strength

How to handle emotional hurt?

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Emotional Hurt and Stress

I have been interacting with many people since several years now. Many people shared their personal problem as well with me, with the belief of getting some emotional comfort and intellectual resolution. The problems have been many, but to an abstract level, the problems can be summarized as – Emotional Hurt and Stress. There may be many reasons for hurt. Most powerful of all or hurtful of all, which I encountered till now have been – heartbreak in relationships. Heartbreak because somebody left somebody else after a long deep relationship. Heartbreak because mistrust came in a relation which has been going fine since a long time. Somebody saying something very hurtful  may also be a reason for emotional hurt and stress. Rejection is one of the most hurtful emotional experience. There can be many more reasons. Generally these emotional hurts and stresses, occur in interpersonal relationships. These issues in summary are the issues of relationships!

A lot of literature are generally available on understanding relationships, but they are generally not meant for immediate relief from the hurts and stresses. They give a general and sometimes even very deep understanding of life, emotions, relationships, which are definitely useful in long run. I myself have written many articles on relationships in past which can be found on this blog.

In this article, I primarily wish to focus on some hacks and techniques which I developed over a few years, which help in dealing with immediate emotional hurts and stresses. When a person is going through a lot of emotional hurt and stress, philosophy related to human nature, psychology, relationships and in general life, makes certain impact, but not much. A lot more is needed to the person to sustain and come out of this emotional turmoil and think objectively.

Following are some hacks and techniques I developed, which I have tested on myself and also on others, and they are giving good results! So next time, if you are going through some emotional hurt or stress, then consider following following hacks and techniques!

1. Try to distract yourself from all the thoughts, imaginations and imaginary situations which you imagine related to other person, with whom you are hurt. The more you imagine all those things, the more deeper and longer the hurt will go. Try to consciously distract yourself. The process of keep on thinking on the same set of events and disturbing oneself is called “Rumination”. This is one of unhealthiest and most common habits. To ruminate means to chew over. Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment. Ruminating about upsetting events in this way can easily become a habit, and it’s a very costly one. Because by spending so much time focused on upsetting and negative thoughts, you are actually putting yourself at significant risk for developing clinical depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease. The problem is the urge to ruminate can feel really strong and really important, so it’s a difficult habit to stop. Each time you have a worrying, upsetting, negative thought, force yourself to concentrate on something else until the urge passed. And within one week, your whole outlook will change and you will become more positive and more hopeful.
Listen to some soothing instrumental music. I emphasis on instrumental music because music with words doesn’t have that therapeutic effect. Classical instrumental music is better. Sound Therapy works best here. I have mentioned links to a lot of sound therapy audios in Meditations section below with “Resource #4”. Just listen to them, they will calm your mind. Watch some good movies, which you like. Read some interesting literature which you are interested in. The talk by Guy Winch on “Why we all need to practice the emotional first aid?” is a very good resource to understand and handle this issue. This is mentioned as “Resource #1” in the resources section.

2. Find out a good friend or some friends, who can listen to you without any judgements, without any hurry and who can empathize with you. Empathy has amazing healing power. To read more about empathy follow my article “The Power of Empathy”, as “Resource #2” in the resources section.

3. Do some random acts of kindness. Be good with people. Help people. Do these things specially when you are distressed. Do anything which helps you receive good gestures and kindness of people. The more kind you try to be with people, the more kindness you will receive and that will make you feel good and increase your self confidence.
In case, you are not able to generate the feeling of kindness within you, then FAKE the kindness in behavior. Fake it, and when you start seeing some good results with people, you will like it and then it will start becoming natural. Fake it, till you make it.

4. Try to empathize with somebody who is going through the similar conditions as yours. Try to counsel him/her. When you counsel him/her, you will be reminded of all the things which you yourself should be doing! Generally we know the right things but we forget them. We need a constant reminder ourselves. This activity will keep reminding you the things which you yourself should keep in mind. This will also give you assurance that you are not alone, and the issues which you are facing are not unique to you, they are human issues. This will also increase your self confidence and hence help you getting better.

5. Auto-Suggestion. Try to make arrangements to auto-suggest yourself all the things which you should be doing and thinking. For example – If you wish to remind yourself of doing random acts of kindness, then you can make your passwords of all the online accounts to be something like “RandomKindness@123Something”. This will keep on reminding you multiple times of the day, of the activity which you should do. You can come up with some more creative ways to remind yourself of the things which you should be doing and they will help you in auto-suggestions.

6. Try some Meditation. Meditation relaxes the mind and fill our mind and body with the necessary energy to conquer the emotional hurt and stress. There are some very simple meditations, mentioned in the resources section in the end of this article which one can practice. A must-do meditation among all is Yoga Nidra. It is extremely easy and extremely effective. Yoga Nidra will help in getting good and sound sleep and relaxing the mind from all the emotional turmoil. It will also fill the entire system with sufficient energy. Check out some meditation techniques and Yoga Nidra resources in the “Meditations” section. One can also learn some good meditations from Spiritual Organizations like Art of Living, Isha Foundation, Vipassana, Pranic Healing and Arhatic Yoga and many more. Use Sound Therapy. I have mentioned links to a lot of sound therapy audios in Meditations section below with “Resource #4”. Just listen to them, they will calm your mind.

Resources:

1. Guy Winch – Why we all need to practice emotional first aid?

2. Devansh Mittal – The Power of Empathy.

3. Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability.

Meditations:

1. Yoga Nidra. I personally like this version of Yoga Nidra. I find it quite effective. There are many more available. One can use them too.

2. Golden Light Meditation

3. Several meditations and related videos can be found on my youtube channel at following link:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_0lj9rby3g2rf7OLzgIUORQgVgh6_Lqw

4. Sound Therapy. Listen to them. They will calm your mind. Many more are available in youtube.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_0lj9rby3g0z6Vq3n2UpIwGa3vhB97uN

And there are many many more one can find, if one starts exploring into this area.

The Truth Shop

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The Truth Shop

My First of its kind🙂

Are exams and competition necessary? – No Relation Between Learning and Examination

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Education

Following is the article written by Dr. Sandeep Pandey Ji (Social Activist, Guest Faculty at IIT(BHU)). Read more to know the context.

Some of my teacher friends are quite concerned with the fact that I don’t conduct any examination in the courses that I teach and almost all students in my class get ‘A’ grade. I believe there is no relationship between learning and examination. If the purpose of teaching is to make students understand a subject the job of a teacher is not complete until the students have learned the subject. Any failure of student to learn should be considered a failure of the teacher to make his/her students understand the subject.

I feel sorry that so much precious time is wasted in setting questions papers, conducting examinations, correcting answer sheets and giving grades. Some teachers seem to take the whole process of conducting examination more seriously than teaching the course itself. For some it is a very pious exercise which they see as integral part of teaching. They cannot imagine the process of teaching sans examination. But performance in examination is not a true reflection of student’s learning. Students may pass examination, and often with good marks, without understanding the subject by adopting legitimate as well as unfair means. This exercise of examination is akin to a struggle between the teacher and the taught. After an insipid semester of instructions the teacher tries to put the students to unnecessary strain of memorizing the content and is usually very strict with grading. So much so that some teachers consider it a matter of pride that students are not able to get very high marks in their subjects. Students on the other hand try to beat the teachers and find ways to score good marks without putting in much effort.

In my system of evaluation I conduct one-to-one interaction with each student in my class. The interaction is held in my office or the hostel room of student. With a class size of slightly over hundred students I’m able to do it about three times during the semester at IIT, BHU. In this evaluation I test the understanding of the student. If the student has not learned the subject he/she is asked to go back, study and prepare for another round of interaction. The students have unlimited chances to learn the subject. The process of evaluation is complete when the teacher and student are both satisfied with the learning achieved. In this process almost all students are able to achieve a certain basic level of understanding of the course. This is the reason that almost all students get the same grade in the class. Since everybody has understood the subject they get ‘A’. I don’t see why they should be given any lesser grade. Ideally I would be happy if no grades had to be given. I should just be required to declare whether the student has understood the subject or not.

Let me make it clear that I’m not saying the examinations have no role. I’m just saying they have no role in learning process. However, if some selection is to done, for example for a job, then the employer may use the method of examination to make appropriate selections. In our country there is a huge industry which just prepares people for various kinds of examinations. They are guilty of making the competition cut throat, draining any element of learning in the teaching process. The joy which is associated with the process of learning disappears as one is exposed to fierce competition. Moreover, it wastes the time and energy of so many youth who are ultimately not able to clear these examinations. The successful candidates are only a miniscule percentage of those who are not able to make it.

However, when we solve problems in real life we almost never do it under examination like conditions. In fact, instead of competing with our colleagues, we try to seek their cooperation in accomplishing a task. Hence the role of examination must not be exaggerated. It is an artificial meaningless wasteful exercise which puts tremendous strain on candidates.

The element of competition inbuilt in examination brings the worst out of us, distorting our personalities, making us more selfish and unnecessarily aggressive. People who are not subject to process of competition, for example all primary producers and illiterate service providers, are more humane in their interaction and produce better quality results in their work too. They have never scored high marks nor hold certificates and degrees from reputed institutions but the society trusts them to do its work. And they do their work honestly. If one thinks about it, it is amazing that we trust formally unqualified and untrained people to do such important tasks as cook our food, build our houses, handle our little children, etc., essentially because we believe in their integrity but still continue to accept the idea that competition produces quality. Most of  the above mentioned categories of people are not working in competitive set ups.

People who do not go through the process of competition have a better understanding of life. For example, they know the amount of resources needed to fulfill human needs. The educated people because of their selfish nature become greedy and lose a sense of remaining contented within limited resources. Hence they feel that their needs are unlimited. This is the reason they also engages in corruption. Corruption is a product of educated society. The uneducated are victims of corruption.

Author:
Dr. Sandeep Pandey
Social Activist,
Guest Faculty at IIT (BHU).
Know more about him at:
http://www.ashanet.org/pandey/visit2005/bio.html

The Power of Empathy

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Empathy

Empathy

Empathy is the basis of all the human connections. Empathy “happens” when other person is able to experience within himself the same emotional condition, which I am experiencing in a given situation, and then other person acknowledges and expresses to me, how it feels to be there. Other person also feels empathy with me, when I do the same. Empathy is the deepest level of emotional oneness which happens between two individuals. It is an amazing feeling of oneness, connectedness and love.

Sympathy on the other hand, which is mostly confused with empathy, is almost the opposite of empathy! Sympathy is trying to understand other person’s condition and then offering consolation or solutions, without having experienced that specific emotional condition within oneself. Sympathy doesn’t connect two individuals, to the depth, to which empathy connects.

Sympathy is a phenomena, when other person is not able to exactly understand how I feel, but evaluates/judges my situation in a certain way. Other person in this case  may give a lot of space and time and may be very nice behaviorally, but his inability to connect with my emotional condition, leaves a void within me. I do not feel connected with the person. Sympathy is often accompanied with the feeling of superiority in the person sympathizing and pity for other person. Nobody likes to be pitied.

The person sympathizing may many a times feel that he understands how it feels to be there in a given situation, but in reality he may not. He may feel that he is empathizing, but in reality, he may be sympathizing. The right of decision, whether the person is sympathizing or empathizing, generally lies with the person on the receiving end. The receiver only can decide, what has happened – Sympathy or Empathy!

Empathy is deep, Sympathy is superficial. Empathy drives connection, Sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy gives comfort, Sympathy brings void. Empathy strengthens the bonding, Sympathy weakens it. Empathy makes a person attractive, Sympathy makes a person repulsive.

In all human conditions, Empathy breeds Trust, Empathy breeds Respect, Empathy breeds Affection and Empathy breeds Love! Without empathy, no amounts of money, no amounts of power, no amounts of nice behavior and hospitality can bring connection between two human beings. Empathy is the basis of all the human connections.

Capability doesn’t necessarily imply Actualization. All human beings are “Capable” of feeling Empathy, but capability doesn’t necessarily imply actualization. Empathy comes with experience and understanding. The more and diverse experiences I have, the more and diverse thought processes I am aware of, the more and diverse emotional states I am aware of or have experienced in past, the more I am vigilant and understanding of my own experiences, thoughts and emotions, the more I will be able to empathize with others. It takes a lot of experiences and inner-connectedness to feel empathy with other person. Introspection and inner-connectedness are necessary to have empathy, but they are not sufficient. Experience of diverse human conditions, understanding of diverse human emotions, understanding of diverse thought processes, are also essential to feel empathy. The more one explores in various human dimensions, the more empathetic one keeps becoming.

There are 4 Components of Empathy. Empathy requires four things to be done. They are:
1. Perspective Taking.
2. Staying out of Judgements.
3. Connecting and experiencing within oneself what other person is going through.
4. Expressing how it feels to be there.

Perspective taking is the process of seeing the situation from the reference point of other person. Staying out of judgements is essential, if one wishes to feel empathy. In fact, empathy kills judgements. If one is really able to feel empathy with other person, the judgements will automatically go away! Empathy requires connecting within myself to the same emotional condition, which other person is going through. And, finally expressing to other person what it feels like to be in that situation, is essential to bring comfort. In fact, in case of empathy, it happens automatically. In empathy, all the 4 things above happen automatically.

Empathy enriches one’s perspective. Empathy develops the capability in a person to see the same situation from multiple perspectives. In fact the reverse is also true. The more perspectives one is able to see the same situation from, the more empathetic one keeps becoming. Lack of understanding of subjectivity of human condition, is one of the main reasons for lack of empathy.

Empathy kills Judgements. To feel empathy, one has to go beyond one’s notions of “good” and “bad”. Different thoughts and emotions which human beings experience in their daily life, are not bound with the ideas of “good” and “bad”. Any type of thoughts and emotions may come in a human being. If one is too immersed in one’s notions of good and bad, if one’s perception is too colored with the ideas of ‘this is good’ and ‘that is bad’, if one is too judgmental, then one will not be able to feel empathy and others will not feel comfortable with that person.

Empathy Builds Relationships: Connecting, Experiencing and Expressing. Empathy Builds Acceptance. Acceptance and Emotional comfort are the keys to good relationships. Empathy breeds acceptance and emotional comfort. When other person is able to connect with my emotional condition, experiences the same within himself and expresses how it feels to be there, it brings me a lot of emotional comfort. Other person also feels comfortable with me, when I do the same. When I am able to connect with other person at this emotional level, then it also builds acceptance. Acceptance is one of the foundational building blocks of any relationship.

Empathy increases understanding of Human Nature. The more one is able to empathize, the more one is able to understand and appreciate different human conditions and perspectives, the more one is able to understand different thought processes, the more one is able to understand different emotional conditions, the more one grows one’s understanding of human nature. One is able to see that innate nature of a human being is good. One is able to see that human being is innately good, but is unable to actualize the goodness, due to certain limitations. An empathetic person is able to understand and appreciate even those limitations. He is not judgmental about the limitations. An empathetic person understands and even respects the imperfection of human beings in their current state of being, since he is or he has been through that imperfection himself and he understands how it feels to be there.

With the increased understanding of human nature, when an empathetic person comes in contact with a human being, he is not able to empathize with, because of the limitation of his experiences, he is still compassionate with him. Compassion builds with more empathy. Compassion is the “Trust in Innate Goodness” of a human being. The more one is able to empathize, the more Trust one builds in Innate Goodness of a human being, the more compassion one builds within oneself for human beings in general.

Empathy in the beginning is generally limited by one’s own experiences in life and awareness within oneself. It is also not possible to have all the experiences of all the kinds in life, but the more one builds empathy and awareness within oneself, the more one breaks free from the limitations of experiences, and the more one develops compassion for human beings in general.

Empathetic Guidance is well received by everyone. Guidance, specially in life related matters, is a thing which one is not receptive to, when given without empathy. Knowledge cannot be imposed on anybody. I am ready to listen to other person when I trust other person’s knowledge, I find his knowledge good for me, I trust other person as a human being and when I feel empathy from other person. When empathy in other person is absent, I am not receptive to him, even if he is saying something really useful. Knowledge, when served in the plate of Empathy, is well taken by everyone. Empathy makes other person more receptive. It loosens his rigidity and preconceived notions.

Empathy is a solution to internal peace, good relationships and societal harmony. When I am able to empathize with other person, when I am able understand other person’s situation better, when I understand why other person did/does what he did/does, then it increases my acceptance for other person. When my acceptance for other person increases, I feel more peaceful and comfortable within. Non-Acceptance brings internal disturbance. Acceptance bring peace within. The more my acceptance increases for other person, the more other person also feels comfortable with me and that leads to mutual fulfillment and complementarity in relationships. When people in a society become more empathetic, more accepting and their relationships improve with each other, it contributes a lot to the harmony in society.

Following resources summarize Empathy very very well. Please spend some time watching them.

1. Following short video by Dr. Brene Brown summarizes Empathy quite well!

2. Empathy can change the world.