The power of empathic communication

I’ve noticed a tendency in some people to think they are “telling the truth” to others when in fact it is just their ego speaking.

I’m not referring only to the vile abuse prevalent on some social media sites but to many live interactions I’ve had with people, male and female.

At first, knowing no better, I thought their approach of so-called “tough love” was one that was meant to help me by confronting my egoity with their “truth”. In my innocence I looked up to them as knowing more than I.

But then two pivotal events changed my perception forever …

The first was when I was experiencing intense emotional-mental pain as a result of participating in a group event designed to “enlighten” me.

I was standing outside the group room, my body convulsed with hot and cold flushes and feeling utterly confused and miserable, when one of the group leaders walked past. He was someone I had spent considerable time with, professionally and personally. I liked him.

But all he did was give me a cursory glance and walk on past, leaving me drowning in pain. This was the philosophy of that organisation, which he had bought into. But it was a cold, heartless approach and served me not at all. I felt no empathy with him or he for me.

To this day I am convinced that if he had showed me some real kindness, real compassion – even a simple touch on my arm or a empathic look in his eyes – those simple actions would have broken my heart wide open and a deep healing would have occurred.


The second event was an experience of a form of communication that had exactly the opposite effect.

I spent some years studying the teachings of, and being in satsang with, a little known advaita-Christian teacher named A.Ramana. He could be fierce, loud, sometimes directly confronting the egoity displayed by his students, at other times expressing great compassionate humour.

The difference between him and the person I mention above is that I could feel the empathy in Ramana’s words, that they came from kindness and compassion. He had a Heart as big as the planet and was a living expression of unconditional love.

So when he criticised some egoic behaviour in myself that I was acting out I felt only gratitude for his wisdom and my love for him increased. When I received his Heart-felt “tough love” my response was simply, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you”.

And so it was that I learned of the power of empathic communication, of simple kindness …


Leo Searle Hawkins

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