Friday, December 26, 2008

December 27 - The Third Holy Night - The Need for Others


Our souls are mirrored by nature, by divinity and by others. Each day of our lives, our souls must seek these mirrors and gaze into them.

Our souls mirror nature, divinity and others. We must keep this mirror polished.


Tonight we contemplate our soul’s need for other human souls, the third mirror.

What are the three feelings we experience through others?
Sympathy, antipathy, and empathy.

Sym- means with. Anti- means against. Em- means in. We join with others, we push against others and we live in others and others live in us.

We need feelings of sympathy and antipathy to give us our sense of identity. We need empathy to give us a true sense of the other and to have those wonderful soul-enriching moments of forgetting ourselves, of pure unselfishness.

Just as the wheel of colors comes out of red, yellow and blue, all the colors of our social life come from the infinite mixtures of sympathy, antipathy and empathy.
Like colors, our social feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy have hues, values, and intensities. The hue of a social feeling reveals which of the three primary feelings is dominant when we experience the other. The value of a social feeling is the degree to which we are awake or sensitive to the mixture of feelings. The intensity of the social feeling is the degree to which this feeling saturates the experience of the other.


Choose a family member, a friend, a colleague, a character in a book, TV show or movie, and a public personality. With each one paint a portrait from your feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy. What do you like about them? What do you dislike? And finally, what do you just “get” about them? Consider the hue, value and intensity of your feelings for each of them.

Probably you will choose the others for which you feel mostly sympathy. We are always more comfortable with those we like. Take the risk to paint the feeling portrait of those you dislike.

When you paint with sympathy and antipathy you are actually painting "self " portraits as sympathy and antipathy are about what you are “with” and “against.” These "self" portraits teach you so much about your own soul life.

When you paint with empathy, you are painting a true image of the other. You see them without the veils of your own likes and dislikes. The empathy portraits take you to feelings that are new and different. They enrich and expand you soul.

Who has painted portraits of you? What other souls see you with sympathy? With antipathy? With empathy?

Throughout the year, pay attention to the feelings of sympathy, antipathy and empathy. Make it a practice to study your social life. This will keep your soul socially bright and clear.


There is one dreadful, painful social experience, but it is the proof of our need for others. There is nothing more painful or damaging, than disregard. When you are not reflected by another’s soul, when you find no mirror, you feel like you have fallen into the abyss of non-existence. It is like your soul cannot breathe.

In the coming year, do not let others fall into an abyss when they seek their reflection in your soul. See the other, no matter who they are, no matter what your social feelings. Keep your social mirror polished.


At the beginning of this message, I used the word “gaze.” What is the difference between looking and gazing?

Gazing is full of grace, yet to gaze at another or to be the object of another’s gaze often fills us with a sense of awkwardness. This awkwardness is self-consciousness. Gazing is easy when we gaze at infants and toddlers because they are not yet self-conscious. With babies, we lose our self-consciousness. Gazing is a deed of a soul that is free of self-consciousness.

Each of us is born anew every moment. At this time when we celebrate nativity, gaze from the part of your being that is newborn into the souls of others and find what is newborn in them. (I feel this is such an ensouling experience, I do gazing exercises when ever I give a talk or lead a workshop.)

If you are sharing this message with your partner or a dear friend, try gazing at each other for one minute. Let the awkwardness be there. Let steady, even breathing keep you present. Keep your eyes soft and your heart open.

If you are alone, find a mirror and gaze at your reflection. Soft eyes, open heart.

During the Holy Nights feel the gaze of the Spiritual World. Gaze back with love and courage.