Understanding As a Spiritual Discipline


One doesn’t often think of empathy and understanding as spiritual disciplines but they are. They’re disciplines because they require focus, practice, and hard work. They’re spiritual because they fulfill the command to love our neighbors.

What are the steps to understanding another person?

Listen without judgment. Even if they embrace ideas you find nutty, set aside your inner critic and really listen. Listen for their passion, their emotion, and what makes their heart sing. Everyone deserves a good listening to!

Get curious. Picture this person as a six year old and imagine all the factors that made them the adult they are today. You’re not talking to a mere person, you’re talking to their DNA, training, trauma, choices, parents, siblings, neighborhood, socio-economic background, gender, and shaping by popular culture.

Try on their glasses. Looking at life from another’s point of view is an inexact science. But we can try. See the world through their experience, their values, and their priorities. This is a great exercise for those who don’t have the funds for world travel.

I’m with Lucy in the cartoon above. I think this world would be a better world if there were more understanding between people. We can work on understanding bugs later.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks Erik. These are super applicable, practical… and challenging.


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