Empathy is defined as the ability to step into another person's shoes and to understand their point of view and sense their feelings. For those who are sensitive or empathatic, the weight of these feelings are so strong that they can become unbearable. I recently found this website, 13 Signs You're An Empath, which lists similar symptoms. Empathy is based on love, and accepts the other person with their faults with understanding, without judgment or hate - for love opens the door to empathy, and hate is what closes it off.
The experience of empathy can become so strong, however, that it becomes clairvoyant - one literally experiences what the other person thinks or feels. This is known by others as "psychic empathy." This kind of empathy is more common in waking dreams. I know someone who had a dream, where he was standing in a garage, and sees his mother. His mother than walks away, and he begins shouting after her to come back. However an invisible barrier then comes up, and she cant hear him, and they become distant until the mother walks away. He woke up with such a heavy sadness, and that very morning received a phone call giving the news that his best friend's mother had committed suicide. She had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage.
Empathy can be closed off for many years, but by random chance one may come across a person that triggers something, opening it up once again. It can cause one to lose sleep, I have recently experienced something similar to it and can't shake it off so I thought I would blog about it to let it out and let it go.
THE SCRIPTURAL FOUNDATION FOR EMPATHY
There are spiritual laws which govern the experience of empathy, and that is the spiritual love of God and loving one's neighbour. These two are the greatest commandments:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40)Scripture expresses this as a commandment, and one may view that one must follow it as a duty or obligation. That is certainly the first step, but as one practices it, one experiences the love, and it grows more internal. An empath lives it, where they are living in the shoes of the other person. More spiritual experiences can happen with those who have similar personalities or who follow similar life paths, despite their differences. Empathy is the bridge across differences, which are in fact mental constructs which block the flow the empathy.
From empathy, one can begin to read other people's thoughts. In fact, the gospels state that Jesus had this ability:
"But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." (John 2:24-25)And, what is interesting to note here, of all empaths God is the greatest empath. He literally stands in the place of every person, and knows firsthand what each person experiences. This can be seen in the following passage:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" (Matt. 25:34-40)
THE SPIRITUAL EXPLANATION OF EMPATHY
The writings of Emanuel Swedenborg provide a deeper explanation for the experience of empathy. Whereas our bodies live in a three dimensional material world, our souls are spiritual in origin and dwell in a parallel dimension where space and time have no meaning. In the spiritual world, instead of space there are states of love, for heaven is composed of one' interior state of ideas and feelings. The more one loves another person the more closer one becomes to that soul:
"In the spiritual world one appears in presence to another, if only he intensely desires his presence; for thus he sees him in thought, and presents himself in his state; and conversely, one is removed from another so far as he is averse to him. And because all aversion is from contrariety of affections and from disagreement of thoughts, it comes to pass in that world, that several who are in one place are seen by one another so long as they agree, but as soon as they disagree they disappear." (Heaven and Hell, n. 194)What then happens is that in the spiritual world, communities form based on like personalities, and this collection of souls appear together in the form of a human being:
"It is to be known that though all in a society of heaven, when seen together as one, appear in the likeness of a man, yet no one society is just such a man as another. The societies are distinguished one from another as are human faces from one stock... they are varied according to the varieties of the good in which they are, and which gives them their form... It is noteworthy that the more there are in a society of heaven making a one, the more perfect is its human form, since variety disposed in heavenly form makes perfection" (Heaven and Hell, n. 70, 71)In the spiritual world, angelic spirits experience a more intense from of empathy - one can literally share the memory of another person where one thinks one is that person:
"That I might know how the matter stood, as to man's not being able to think from his own memory, if spirits flowed in from their exterior memory, it was permitted two or three times that this should be done; and I then knew no otherwise than that that was mine which was not mine, but a spirit's; and that I had thought the things before, which I had not thought" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2478)This influx into another person's memory is the spiritual origin of telepathy as well as empathy. here is another passage:
"An angel or a spirit when he comes to a man, and by turning to him is conjoined to him, comes into all his memory, insomuch that he scarce knows otherwise than that he knows from himself what the man knows, including his languages" (Heaven and Hell, n. 246)Thus those who have experienced clairvoyant empathy have in fact experienced something very close to what the angelic minds think, when they come across another soul who is of like mind with them. Empaths are thus the hidden angels on earth, and you are lucky if you should ever encounter one, or share such an experience with another.