The Resonance of Empathy


The echo of a pleasant sound, like the echo of a single kindness, casts ambient rings of pleasure around the conscious recipient. With resonance thus defined, let’s consider empathy.

Empathy (feeling with) — unlike apathy (without feeling) or antipathy (contrary feeling) — is the most defining characteristic of the human species and the one “that separates us from all other animals. That is to say, while anatomy includes us in the animal kingdom, our uniquely spiritual endowment challenges us to rise above the mental/physiological abilities of our animal siblings. Thus, empathy is the human capacity to not only reflect, but experience with, another being. In other words, to have and hold the greatly intensified empathy, called compassion. This compassion, or “suffering together,” defines our individual standing among our peers.

Empathy is the only door to compassion. For most of us, empathy arises out of our own suffering. And it is suffering that divides the sheep from the wolves. The former — the sheep — begin to reflect on their own suffering, its meaning and possible reason. This results in the spiritual growth potential of the experience.

The wolves, on the other hand, grow into rage at their own suffering and, in every attempt to alleviate this untempered rage, sadistically inflict suffering on others.

It is the challenge of spiritual development first to recognize the challenge, and correspondingly, to embrace this challenge. In doing so, we begin to practice empathy, on a moment-to-moment basis. We reflect on every such moment, and find that, little-by-little, our empathy grows.

As our empathy with the human condition — of ourselves, our families, our neighbors, co-workers and even with politicians — grows, we find ourselves transcending the all too ubiquitous habituation of complaining about the unvarying, negative status quo.

Having arrived at a measure of habitual empathy, we are moved to compassion.
We can now feel with everyone, without accepting any negative conditions. Thus, rising above the negativity, we can now embrace all conditions and visualize how the most positively elevating outcome very positively and benevolently affects every tomorrow.

Empathy does not judge according to color, race, religion or human weaknesses or differences. Empathy begins with a nudge in consciousness, wherever and whenever we meet another being, even if that being is an alien to our experience. Benevolence by any name, casts an ever-widening spiral around all entities touched by its reach. Empathy is the echo of benevolence, like the reverberation from mountains around an alpine meadow.

First, believe in empathy. Next, practice empathy. Then, allow compassion to embrace you. Feel, respond, develop and evolve. Forget time passing, and do not look back. Believe. Practice. At the end of the rainbow, no storm, no tsunami, will disarray your golden robe of transcendent equanimity.

We are amidst alpha and omega. Yet, without a shadow of doubt, we shall each return to the origin of our being.

When resonant empathy rises to the intensity of love, we are confronted with the concept of “unconditional love.” It is well to remember that human love is rarely, if ever, unconditional. But another concept may come to mind. If love, beginning with empathy, is the ultimate cause of all that is, then it must be the only Reality, since only what is truly permanent has reality.

If this Reality, Love, is unconditional, and if It has created us among universes and all they contain, then Unconditional Love can only be the offering of Itself, the Uncreated, to the manifest Created.

It is this eternal and never-relenting offering Who pursues the human soul, until it resonates and responds. One might say that when the human heart resonates perfectly with the Eternal Offering, the individual has “transcended.” To put it into the vernacular: That individual has hit a home-run. No matter what roadblocks we manage to create for ourselves, the Offering never goes away. Empathy is the directive on the road to transcendence. With our cooperation, it increases, grows into love and finally, leads back to our Origin.

Allow the echo of the mountains surrounding the mountains of your personal universe. Reverberate with your growing empathy!

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Roswitha v. Andersheim
Roswitha v. Andersheim was born in Germany, and she came to this country after World War II. She counts as her main interests writing, art and music. A university graduate, she taught school and remains focused on teaching whatever her skills allow. Closer to 100 than to 50 years of age, she hopes to connect with those who likewise are focused on contributing towards a more peace-oriented world.


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