Empathy is the ability to feel another. When we can feel another, we can know them. Basic empathy, or accurate empathy as William Miller calls it in his book Listening Well: The Art of Empathic Understanding, is the ability to reflect back to another their experience in a way that resonates for the other person. I call this basic empathy because it is the necessary building block to Deep Empathic Truth, a more advanced form of empathy.
In this article I’m going to lay the groundwork for a new way of perceiving the truth. Currently, most people view the truth as a completely subjective phenomenon where anyone can say their truth and no one knows another’s truth better than they know it themselves. This current paradigm is based on a false assumption that we are all equally capable of discerning truth in ourselves. The skill to discern truth, like the skill of playing guitar, cooking, running, or any other skill, is different in each of us. It’s my belief that we are all equal in our fundamental worth as human beings. And, we are all unequal at various skills, like discerning truth.
We all are far from equals at discerning the truth. In fact, the one with the greatest empathy has the best bead on the truth of the moment for the dynamics in a field of people. This truth is not subjective but objective, in much the way the weather is an objective and observable fact to anyone perceiving from the same geographic area. Either the sun is out or it is behind a cloud. It is either day time, night time, or a transition time between the two. We can all agree on what’s happening in the environment. Because there’s so much distortion and denial about our internal experience, we have disagreements about the emotional facts of the moment. The person who is most accepting of themselves can most accurately perceive what is going on around them. When you’re lost in denial or judgment of reality, you can’t see reality clearly.
Denial leads to projection. When we force something away from our own consciousness, we project this onto another person. This is how we see our own bullshit all around us. When we perceive through empathy, much of our unnecessary projection goes away, and it becomes easier to view people as they are.
What is going on in the field of an interaction, or in another person, is a kind of inner weather that you can discern with your heart. When you feel into another with deep accuracy, you can sense their being. You can tell or feel where they are in integrity with their being and where they are out of integrity with their being. By tuning into your heart, you have an instrument for detecting the truth. The heart can listen to words and feel for their resonance. The heart in this way is like an old coin vending machine. When someone says something to you, it can do one of three things:
- It goes down and you feel it go down. (It’s true)
- It spits the coin back out. (It’s not true)
- Or, it kinda went down and you can’t tell. (It’s partially true and partially not true)
This three-fold system is also true when you speak the truth. Either the coin goes down and they understand, or it doesn’t go down at all and they don’t understand, or it partially goes down and there’s partial understanding.
Whoever has the clearest bead on the truth is the leader of the field and the discerner or judge of truth in the moment. This judge of truth is meant to be merciful and empathic, not judgmental. They are infinitely discerning and profoundly forgiving. They empathize with anyone lost in lies and understand what it is like to be in their position. They know that everyone will return to the truth in the long run and are accepting of anyone who is out of integrity with the truth.
This acceptance should not be confused with softness. Someone who discerns the truth may speak up for this truth boldly and loudly. When a group knows that one person has a better bead on the truth in the moment, they are meant to follow the truth in this leader. These “followers” are not meant to defer from false loyalty to an outside authority, but to listen to deeper truth resonate in their own hearts. If we are not returning to the truth in our own heart, then we are lost.
Truth in Your Heart
By opening to this resonance for truth in your heart you pave the way for developing the ability to discern Deep Empathic Truth. Deep Empathic Truth is when you behold directly the truth of another person in such a profound way that you feel the very essence of them. If they are open to you here, you can help guide them more deeply into their own soul simply by the awareness you place on them. If they are closed off to you here, this may lead to a parting of ways between both of you. Deep Empathic Truth is a real phenomenon, which I believe we can empirically measure in those who possess it. We will have to develop a qualitative science that is quantitative enough to perceive these subtle nuances.
The risk in this kind of Deep Empathic Truth is that we presume to know another’s experience better than they know themselves. When the other disagrees with us about what we are experiencing in them, we can end up in a battle of perspectives. From the egoic position, Empathic Truth can be viewed by many people as a form of arrogance, imbalance, or even the roots of building a cult. I understand the issues here, as it can very easily lead to all sorts of abuses of power if it is falsely used or misused. If you delude yourself into thinking you know the other person better than they know themselves, and you are not accurate in your assessment, you are engaging in arrogance and a profound abuse of power.
But there’s a place where we can know the other person better, as the Johari window suggests about the blindspot. If we are seeing the other person clearly, we can perceive their blindspot in a way that they can never fully see. This gives us the potential to know another better than they know themself. We must carry a deep humility in us to perceive these kinds of truth, so we don’t fall prey to an ego trap or power game that can come when this type of knowledge is twisted by the ego. We must be committed to the path of feeling and truth 100%, in order to rely on this kind of knowing.
Staying True to Deep Empathic Truth
When we have discovered, discerned, and cultivated Deep Empathic Truth, it’s important to stay true to it. Others may question or doubt our sense of things. Always follow their questions or doubts with empathy, so you double check in every moment what is more true. If another is speaking clearer truth than we have previously perceived, or sheds new light on the truth, it’s best to abandon anything that is less true and embrace the most true perspective available in the moment. In this way, we are constantly open to learning new perspectives and truths from anyone we come in contact with. This serves as a check and balance to the power that comes from Deep Empathic Truth.
Deep Empathic Truth does not stay static. It can not simply be found and relied on like bedrock. It is an ever-moving terrain based on the heart in the moment. Anyone can change at any time. We must be careful about making dogma about something that we found that was true. The moment you lock into a perspective about someone that is fixed, rigid, or unchanging, you engage in an act of soul warfare with them. If we have a truly open heart, our perspective on another person is never fixed and always open to revisions based on how they show up in the moment.
Also, consider that when we receive Deep Empathic Truth about someone’s fundamental core issue, and they are not open to looking at it, they may stay stuck in this pattern for the rest of their life. This is not meant as a limit on them, but an encouragement to stay true to what you perceive. The Deep Empathic Truth that you find is never wrong. If someone truly changes, they will by necessity, embrace some of what you’ve seen in their shadow or there would be no way they could truly transform.
May we find our way back to the truth of the heart. I believe Deep Empathic Truth is the antidote to the poisons of the world of lies we are currently living in. When we find our way to this understanding as a society, we will be able to forge a world that truly works for everyone.
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