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Archive for the ‘empathy’ Category

On this National Day of Service and Remembrance, nine years already since 9/11, and one year since I began this blog to explore ways we can remember who we are deep within us, we may still wonder how far we have come in uniting the great divide between us.

A little service to others goes a long way in helping us remember who we are and how much we are all connected. Stepping into the wounds of loss, separation, and grief with acts of altruism and selflessness leads to healing and reconciliation. Service can be the first step toward peace, both within and in the world. Service is prayer made visible. As Abdu’l-Baha said, “Service to humanity is service to God.” What will you do this day to serve and to remember?

A 39th way to review your life story – In your own place of quiet, where you can reflect deeply, ask yourself these questions about service. What does service mean to me? How does service fit into my life, now and in the future? In 5, 10, or 20 years from now, what will I have done with my life that is most satisfying? What will I have contributed to the world that will be my greatest source of happiness? What strengths and capacities will I build upon, and what weakness will I overcome, to be of service in this way? What do I need to do, or change in my life, today that would enable me to carry this out? Take as much time as you need to put all your thoughts on this down in a way that sounds and feels right to you, tell this story in your own voice, and post it here for others to benefit from, if you would like to.

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We live in remarkable times, the worst of times and the best of times. It often seems like the worst brings out the best in us. Where does this ability, this virtue, value, or spiritual quality, to care for others we don’t even know, and at the same time give up something else that may be so important to us, come from? Are we truly, at our deepest nature, “Homo empathicus,” as Jeremy Rifkin says in The Empathic Civilization? (Researchers have discovered “empathy neurons” that allow us to feel and experience another’s situation as if it were our own – and our empathic consciousness has steadily been evolving over history).

Could it be that we are all born with these qualities, and that it just takes time or the right circumstances for them to emerge? Are virtues like love, compassion, caring, empathy, charity, mercy, service, sacrifice, helpfulness, cooperation, courtesy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and so many more, hardwired into who we are, as spiritual human beings?

We seem to either know intuitively, or we remember from gaining access to our inborn wisdom, that caring for and assisting others in time of need, without concern for our own needs, not only feels right but also contributes to our own sense of well-being and happiness. Altruism is compassion and kindness in action. What we are all witnessing more of recently is that certain natural tragedies in this world set off a compassion trigger in the brain and we feel called to action.

A 20th way to review your life story – In a personal reflection upon the outpouring of compassion, caring, and charity the world has seen recently, think about those times in your life when you have been moved to action to offer some needed service to others, to be helpful to another, to sacrifice something because of your commitment to cooperate with others rather than thinking only of yourself. Why, and how, has your empathic response to others been unexpectedly rewarded? What has being altruistic in your own way done to bring peace, unity, or understanding to your life? Think about these questions, and when you have come up with a time in your life that has triggered compassion or inclusive caring, tell the story of what this has meant to you or how it has changed your life, and share as much of it as you would like to here for others to benefit from.

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