In my opinion Empathy is a core spiritual principle. Empathy is kindness and faith in action. It is the ability to really listen to another person, joining them in their feelings and seeing the world through their eyes. Many times in life we listen with good intentions and then want to fix the problem of another. That can often be codependency. Empathy just listens to another and while it is not unwilling to lend a helping hand it also has an underlying faith that the person can solve their own problems. Empathy keeps responsibility where it belongs.
Plus, I found most people want to be heard and listened too rather than fixed.
I found this on the net and to me it is empathy and kindness in action.
Be gentle with one another—
It is a cry from the lives of people battered
By thoughtless words and brutal deeds…
Who of us can look inside another and know what… is there
Of hope and hurt, or promise and pain?
Who can know from what far places each has come…
Our lives are like fragile eggs.
They crack and the substance escapes.
Handle with care!
Handle with exceedingly tender care.
For there are human being within,
Human beings as vulnerable as we are.
Who feel as we feel.
Who hurt as we hurt.
Life is too transient to be cruel with one another;
It is too short for thoughtlessness,
Too brief for hurting.
Be gentle with one another.
by Rev. Richard Gilbert, Unitarian Universalist minster
This is a quote by Atticus Finch a character in the book To Kill A Mockingbird. I think this is a great definition of Empathy.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Now think of God. Does your concept of God include one where he is capable of great Empathy for you and your human condition? I will have more to say on that in a different post.