No Empathy; Know Apathy

Without empathy there can be neither compassion nor love,
and so we remain in apathy.

When we talk about spirituality, we want to be inspired and uplifted and think only good things, but we have to be aware of perpetuating this one-sided view. Our enemy is, in fact, our greatest spiritual friend as it shows us our reactions, whereas our so-called friends just want to maintain the status quo.

Being aware of the negatives and identifying their causes brings about the cessation of fear and suffering; the outcome is therefore always positive. This is our path after all, and our path is our own confusion about what we actually are – consciousness itself.

If we only want to hear nice things, we’ll end up in sentimentality, where we’re of no use to ourselves, or to anyone else. Worst of all, we become unreliable.

Love is challenging: we need to be courageous and complete practitioners. As spiritual seekers of truth, every experience helps us empathise with the suffering of others. Without this, it is all just empty theory. We remain helpless, and when it comes to dealing with problematic people, we shrink away.

During spiritual retreats, we are given answers, and we then go from one set of teachings to another to get these answers validated – but they are irrelevant if we do not first have genuine questions. We sound impressive and come over as serious students, and it pleases the teacher to think he or she has intelligent followers. This, in turn, puts pressure on other students to avoid asking the awkward questions, and the lid is kept firmly on the can of worms.

In all religions – and especially Tibetan Buddhism – the teacher is seen as the centre of one’s life; one must follow everything the teacher says. This creates a dilemma when considering the Buddha’s statement, “Do not take my word for it, but test the teachings for yourself.”

Without empathy there can be neither compassion nor love, and so we remain in apathy.

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, having the ability to exchange self for other. It is caring for others more than oneself.

Apathy is a state of indifference. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest and so does not question. They feel that they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge and thus remain helpless.

This bring us on to the subject of group identity and group think which, unfortunately, can create elitism and aversion. If a challenging person comes along – someone who does not adhere to ‘group think’ – the group closes ranks because it lacks the ability to empathise.

Our greatest teacher is the moment now
because it presents us with our karmic load.
There is much to be aware of!

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