After listening to that, I went on a little internet explanation and found this: "Hot to Help - When Can Empathy Move Us to Action? in which psychologist Daniel Goldman asserts that there are 3 types of empathy: cognitive empathy, with which we understand other people's emotions but don't actually feel them as a result; emotional empathy, with which we understand AND feel; and compassionate empathy, with which we understand, feel, and are empowered to act to relieve suffering.What are people thinking when they risk their lives for someone else? Are they making complicated calculations of risk or diving in without a second thought? Is heroism an act of sympathy or empathy?
A few years ago, we spoke with Walter F. Rutkowski about how the Carnegie Hero Fund selects its heroes, an honor the fund bestows upon ordinary people who have done extraordinary acts.
When some of these heroes were asked what they were thinking when they leapt into action, they replied: they didn’t think about it, they just went in.
Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says there is a certain kind of empathy that leads to action. But feeling the pain of another person deeply is not necessarily what makes a hero.
I'd like to assert that one of the real powers of dharma/dhamma is the cultivation of compassionate empathy as is described in this article (and in many many other writings that are easily available, apparently). Emotional empathy can cause us to become so negatively effected by other people's emotions that we have to force ourselves to ignore others' suffering as a defense mechanism. Compassionate empathy, when cultivated, allows us to really see the interdependence and take action to help others as we would ourselves and our loved ones, because we're all connected.
This is another example of how I'm fascinated by how certain parts of the dharma are shown to be universal and scientifically provable, without knowingly practicing as the Buddha instructed. In fact, if I hadn't noticed this to begin with, I wouldn't have started practicing in the first place.
Do any of you think that having this information can help you use your practice to help other people?