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"The superior student listens to the Way and follows it closely. The average student listens to the Way and follows some and some not. The lesser student listens to the Way and laughs out loud. If there were no laughter it would not be the Way."
—  Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching - Chapter 41

  • In our present time it seems natural and shrewd for people to view their experience of the world from a self oriented perspective. It makes sense to have a focus on ones own needs in terms of self preservation and personal growth.

    But for better or worse empathic types have a proclivity to feel their way through experiences in a profoundly intimate way. It comes as an instinctual part of life to want to understand how other people are experiencing their world. It is sometimes to the detriment of the empaths own constitution that they endeavour to learn through this method. There is however much to be gained by being high in openness and conscientiousness.

    The Zen Buddhist philosophy of ‘Shoshin’ describes a state of mind where one is in harmonious accord with the present state of being without judgement or desire for control. One has a beginners mind, unconditioned, like a baby’s vulnerability to possibility and engagement with the new.

    Being open to the potentiality that one’s own judgement may be wrong and that others can be right is a good premise on which to build a platform for appreciation. Allowing space to enter the thought process and giving time to acknowledging the impermanence of things.

    When we can be open to the possibility of fallibility we become listeners and are ready to learn. To allow a situation to resolve itself through the use of introspection rather than action is as much a study of the self as it is a study of others.

    The majority of us have empathic inclinations by nature and can benefit greatly from cultivating this much underrated ability. How we move through the world depends greatly on the part we play within society. We can sometimes become dispirited by the narcissistic nature of the, self comes first, philosophy of modern living. We are seduced by marketing slogans such as, “because I’m worth it”. But do we not all have worth inherently?

    The more we take the time to appreciate the worth of others the more likely we are to be open to understanding the perspectives of others. Putting our own wants and desires on pause for a short while, we allow ourselves the space to embody the spirit of Shoshin and give ourselves the opportunity to see with the wisdom of the many.

One thought on “Imagining the world through the eye’s of others

  1. Hey, nice website, Paul! And thanks for nice chat at St James, it was pleasure to meet you.

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“In Budapest, surgeons operated on printer's apprentice Gyoergyi Szabo, 17, who, brooding over the loss of a sweetheart, had set her name in type and swollowed the type.”
— Time Magazine 1936. From the book
Just My Type, by Simon Garfield.