What type of empathy leads to action?

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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egon
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What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by egon » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:55 pm

So... I've been thinking a lot about empathy lately. I've been trying to figure out why I know people that are simultaneously emotionally empathetic and completely devoid of motivation to take action to help. Serendipity! I listened to an episode of the podcast Radiolab entitled "How to Be a Hero" which, at least partially, addresses that. Here's the episode description:
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.
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.

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?

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Grigoris
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:46 pm

egon wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:55 pm
So... I've been thinking a lot about empathy lately. I've been trying to figure out why I know people that are simultaneously emotionally empathetic and completely devoid of motivation to take action to help. Serendipity! I listened to an episode of the podcast Radiolab entitled "How to Be a Hero" which, at least partially, addresses that. Here's the episode description:
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.
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.

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?
My suggestion is you look into the Lojong (mind training) and the practice of Tonglen for a Tibetan Buddhist take on the subject.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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egon
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by egon » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:02 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:46 pm
My suggestion is you look into the Lojong (mind training) and the practice of Tonglen for a Tibetan Buddhist take on the subject.
Thanks, I will!

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Mantrik
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by Mantrik » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:11 pm

Empathy is just a modern term, cobbled together and meaningless.
Investigate Compassion.
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

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egon
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by egon » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:43 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:11 pm
Empathy is just a modern term, cobbled together and meaningless.
I'm going to have to agree to disagree, but I respect your opinion.
Investigate Compassion.
Thanks for the advice!

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Mantrik
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by Mantrik » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:58 pm

egon wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:43 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:11 pm
Empathy is just a modern term, cobbled together and meaningless.
I'm going to have to agree to disagree, but I respect your opinion.
Investigate Compassion.
Thanks for the advice!
empathy (n.)
1908, modeled on German Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), which was coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia "passion, state of emotion," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + pathos "feeling" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer"). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer's ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

And since mucked about by no end of people until it becomes an adjunct of Star Trek 'Empath' nonsense. ;)
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

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egon
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by egon » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:31 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:58 pm

empathy (n.)
1908, modeled on German Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), which was coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia "passion, state of emotion," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + pathos "feeling" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer"). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer's ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

And since mucked about by no end of people until it becomes an adjunct of Star Trek 'Empath' nonsense. ;)
I appreciate your elaboration on your point of view. I wasn't familiar with the etymology. If you consider the current use of the word to be useless, again I reapect your opinion. It appears that your beef isn't with its modernity, but rather the fact that cultivation of compassion makes the concept of empathy irrelevant, correct?

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Mantrik
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by Mantrik » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:17 pm

egon wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:31 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:58 pm

empathy (n.)
1908, modeled on German Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), which was coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia "passion, state of emotion," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + pathos "feeling" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer"). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer's ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

And since mucked about by no end of people until it becomes an adjunct of Star Trek 'Empath' nonsense. ;)
I appreciate your elaboration on your point of view. I wasn't familiar with the etymology. If you consider the current use of the word to be useless, again I reapect your opinion. It appears that your beef isn't with its modernity, but rather the fact that cultivation of compassion makes the concept of empathy irrelevant, correct?
Yes, it is a much better concept to work with as so much is available as commentary in Buddhism. None of these words is precise, because they are translations of course.
Empathy seems to me to be a much harder term to find in consistent use.

You can Google for types of compassion in Buddhism, and here's a book I like:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Compassionate- ... 1559398169
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

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egon
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Re: What type of empathy leads to action?

Post by egon » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:14 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:17 pm
egon wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:31 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:58 pm

empathy (n.)
1908, modeled on German Einfühlung (from ein "in" + Fühlung "feeling"), which was coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia "passion, state of emotion," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + pathos "feeling" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer"). A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer's ability to project his personality into the viewed object.

And since mucked about by no end of people until it becomes an adjunct of Star Trek 'Empath' nonsense. ;)
I appreciate your elaboration on your point of view. I wasn't familiar with the etymology. If you consider the current use of the word to be useless, again I reapect your opinion. It appears that your beef isn't with its modernity, but rather the fact that cultivation of compassion makes the concept of empathy irrelevant, correct?
Yes, it is a much better concept to work with as so much is available as commentary in Buddhism. None of these words is precise, because they are translations of course.
Empathy seems to me to be a much harder term to find in consistent use.

You can Google for types of compassion in Buddhism, and here's a book I like:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Compassionate- ... 1559398169
Thanks for the resource!

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