#119 – A Short Story on Empathy and Compassion

Meli and I on the road. Our destination has yet to be determined.

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”― Arthur Schopenhauer

What is Empathy

Empathy means to have the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

Although empathy is a beautiful feeling to convey, it has broken me. I would feel the pain of another, to such a degree that I would make it mine. 

This pain would manifest itself in anxiety, fear, and worry. 

I would live in this pain, even long after the pain wasn’t needed anymore. It was a type of self-deprecating torture of the mind.

Like many, my life has been wrapped around heartache and as someone who has been empathetic without trying, it has taken a toll on my soul. 

As with the years, wisdom grows. However, the turbulent waters only become calm if one is steadfast in understanding the self. 

A Story on Empathy

To take parlance from the Dali-lama, there is a story of a young man caught between a few boulders who is suffocating. A stranger sees that he’s in trouble, so he practices empathy and decides to lodge himself between a few boulders too, so he can suffocate as well. 

This is how I used to be. 

In metaphorical terms, I would suffocate myself seeing another suffocate. 

When I started to understand what compassion is, I started approaching the suffering of others and myself differently. 

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion aren’t synonymous terms, although both work in harmony. Empathy is fundamental and oftentimes a precursor to compassion. 

Compassion means to feel another’s suffering and also feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

Compassion is when you have the ability to separate yourself from the pain of another, so you can actually help them. It’s so you don’t suffocate as well. It’s important to have enough distance from another’s pain, so you can actually alleviate it without comprising your energy. 

It’s important to be mindful of yourself and not take on others’ problems. Many times, we do this to ourselves. You may feel obligated for a number of reasons, but that’s no way to live. 

What is in your mind becomes your dominion. 

The strength of compassion is to keep your soul pristine and pure. It’s how you can show love in action.
It’s how you can help another breathe again. 

With Love,
Anand

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