Discernment vs Empathy

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Discernment vs Empathy

Postby Marge » Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:19 am

I was listening to some reflections on the dhamma today, and the topic was discernment vs empathy. Working on empathy for yourself and others, and maybe especially others that might have made you angry or jealous or whatever, is important. Knowing the interdependence of all things is important, but we have to be careful that we are not being a victim by being too empathetic. Wisdom, discernment are important too and very personal. There is no set of rules. Each of us has to know our own boundaries. I am not sure the dhamma addresses this. I wonder where more information can be found on wisdom in the dhamma?
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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby altar » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:02 am

This is in fact an interesting question, and I mean for me, as well as others.

Because it is quite clear that the power of compassion is very far reaching, if not from personal life than from the texts. And as for the instructions in developing compassion, it is recommended that one develop it limitlessly. So boundaries on compassion are not really recommended, at least in the instances in which one is having it. But as to whether there are some moments that are proper for compassion, and others more wisely directed, this too is an interesting question. I'm not qualified to answer and I figure that sometimes a person can almost be wise to "OD" on empathy whereas at others they would be wiser to do some other practice.
I don't want to draw the thread amuck, but might there be room for discussion on the differences between empathy and compassion? Empathy is almost closer to amicability, or friendliness, but certainly has a feeling quality.
I would say though, that at the very least, empathy is also a good quality or technique in favor of dominance.
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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby ground » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:57 am

Marge,

I do not quite understand.
Empathy is based on discernment. Empathy is based on discerning "right" and "wrong". Do you want to express the view that affirmation of "I" and "mine" is an instance of "right discernment"?

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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby Sobeh » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:54 am

As was pointed out in another thread it is probably best to track down the Pali terms under discussion at the very beginning, lest the discussion turn into fuzzy wordplay. Discernment seems obvious as panna; what of empathy - some aspect of karuna or metta?
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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby ground » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:33 am

Sobeh wrote:Discernment seems obvious as panna; what of empathy - some aspect of karuna or metta?


Empathy is an aspect of panna in that it is an effect of panna. How could it be otherwise? It is different from panna only in the sense of difference between cause and effect.

However from another perspective it is not different because it has an object. But having an object is based on discernment.
And it is not identical because it is not the faculty of discernment.

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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby Anicca » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:16 am

Marge wrote:... but we have to be careful that we are not being a victim by being too empathetic.


Yes! - not an emotional rollercoaster:

Extract from Itivuttaka: The Group of Threes
Iti 80 PTS: Iti 72 Vagga.sutta: Iti 3.31
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "There are these three kinds of unskillful thinking. Which three? Thinking concerned with not wanting to be despised; thinking concerned with gains, offerings, & tribute; thinking concerned with an empathy for others. [1] There are three kinds of unskillful thinking."

Fettered
to not wanting to be despised;
to gains, offerings, respect;
to delight in companions:
you're far from the ending of fetters.
But whoever here,
having abandoned
sons,
cattle,
marriage,
intimates:
he's capable
— a monk like this —
of touching superlative
self-awakening.

Note
1.According to the Commentary, this refers to a monk's tendency to be overly intimate with lay people, overly susceptible to the rises and falls in their fortunes, "happy when they are happy, sad when they are sad, busying himself with their affairs."


Itivuttaka: The Group of Threes"(Iti 50-99), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, June 24, 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Discernment vs Empathy

Postby Marge » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:47 am

Anicca,

I think I caused myself some bad Karma today because I tried to get offerings and respect, mostly.

Man, letting go is hard. The emotional roller coaster is right.

Thank you so much for this.
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