Author Topic: Practising Compassion: Emotions that are difficult to feel  (Read 1711 times)

Offline ChristopherLin

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Practising Compassion: Emotions that are difficult to feel
« on: January 09, 2018, 05:27:08 am »
Hello everyone! I'm new to FreeSangha. I came here in the pursuit to find answers to my new practice in compassion.

I'm trying to imagine what it would feel like to be in someone else's place. To imagine the pain they went through. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of my partner who I've once wronged. I used them, I said words of affection and I took them back.

My partner has given me a chance to better myself. I am trying to put myself in their shoes, to feel what they felt like during those moments. But I'm having a difficult trying to experience it, as I don't think I've ever experienced such emotions before. The reactions that I inherently have to being used is avoidance and some frustration. My partner experienced more than that, and I would like to experience that too.

Does anyone have any tips to help me develop greater empathy?

Thank you everyone


Offline Anemephistus

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Re: Practising Compassion: Emotions that are difficult to feel
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 07:26:20 am »

Since I am not familiar with your knowledge of Buddhism or what paths you have an affinity to, I would like to suggest these two links to overview the topic that you have asked about. I am not a sage, a wise person, a guru or a monk. I am working on keeping my compassion in my perceptions well. There are some differences in how you wish to apply this in the immediate sense, but ultimately I think the the goal of compassion is to spread it to all living beings and to see them as worthy of it.

I believe it is suggested in order to develop this that one considers a person with whom they are somewhat neutral. It is easy to pull in other feelings when we try it on a person to whom we are very close, those feelings can be an impediment. If you want to extend this to your loved one first I might try and developing a core insight.

Many years ago I was a cook. I worked in a kitchen and was always running around under pressure. I thought at the time it must be the most difficult work I could have found. My coworkers were fun mostly but a few of them were difficult and I was really arrogant. I had apprenticed under two chefs and I suppose if I wanted to I could call myself one, and I saw my way of seeing things as superior because I had some degree of education from my apprenticeships about what I was doing in this regard. Finally I really angered one of my co-workers about the same time I was trying to develop my mind through Buddhism. I had a lot less life behind me at that time and thought "This guy is a dick".

I was angry, he was angry we had to work together on a line. I was reading a book on the subject and tried to apply compassion to my thoughts of him.   This made it difficult because the "I" in me really didn't want to like him. Then I looked at some of the other staff, this is what I came to:

I have been hungry and had no food, it hurt, I have been cold and there was no place to go that was warm, I was cold and it hurt and I was scared. I am an addict (I had much less time clean) and I endured a lot of pain when I stopped using. I breath, and eat, and seek shelter and have flaws and when I remembered the pain I had faced from the things in my life and how badly I wanted help with them, I realized others felt the same way. They were working hard, to feed themselves, to maintain warmth, to support things I hoped would make them happy but at least not hurt them like I had done myself. They had aspirations and hopes like I did, they wanted to love and to be loved and to live happily. They were struggling in their own ways to reach for these things. I was the same. Having medicine that works when we are sick is a miracle, having a place to stay warm or cool is a miracle, having love is a miracle, having food when we are hungry is a miracle, and every single human seeks these things in one way or another.

We need clean air to breath, a good place to sleep, safe food to eat, clean water, interaction, a temperature that is safe for us. We are all delicate, when we do not have these things we hurt. All of us get scared, we feel pain, we act out in ways that are based on our condition. My condition, I think it is no more valid than yours, there is no "you" or "me" there is too much the same for this separation. It's just "us" and we are trying to solve all these troubles together! I think you should look at this with feeling, and with logic, and search for it with effort.

I think that your loved one, they are the same as any person in this regard. So I think you should look at any person to whom you have no strong emotion towards and really try and see how much they have in common with you, see if they are really different enough to not feel compassion towards. Look at them and see them struggling in the same ways you are or have. You are living life and some of this is recognizable I am sure, when you face conditions that make you suffer, know that others feel the same. I don't think you have to know everything that underlies a situation and choose weather or not it is a valid feeling, the entire scope of their existence has brought them into a moment where they are having a feeling, and it could not be any different for them. Your entire scope of experience has brought you to asking about feeling compassion, there is no difference between how you feel and how others feel, the emotions are all the same, its just what gives rise to them that seems different, but I think that if we fully exchange places with them, we would be the same.

I think letting go of the notions about how different everyone is helps a lot. Letting go of the judgment we try to place on these things based on our "own" experience helps a lot too....we see a person crying over something that we think is trivial and we think "Wow pull yourself together!" but we have cried too, we see a person get exuberant over something we have no interest in and we think "Man, do you have to yell about this?! It's stupid!". Pretty certain that it is In this way that we decide that a persons feelings are valid or they are not, but having compassion does not care about the validity of the emotion, if they are feeling sad over something which seems improper to be sad over, we care with compassion and so we help, we think "how can I help this person understand that they can live in a way that this will not upset them so badly" and when they get really excited over something we think " I wonder if there is a way in which you might not take this so serious because eventually this passion for this object is going to make you sad or angry".  Compassion is about caring for others and empathy can overcome judgment but recognition of how we are alike over different will help a lot I think.

Have a wonderful day!


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