Donald Rothberg: Deepening Our Practice in the Pandemic 4: The Foundations of Wise Speech 1: Cultivating Empathy

(Spirit Rock Meditation Center) We start with a brief review of the three previous talks on deepening practice during the pandemic (and other crises), including clarifying three broad areas of practice: Formal meditation practice, daily life practice, and work, service, and/or activism as practice. In this session, we explore the foundations of Wise Speech as practice, mentioning three foundations. The first two include (1) the ethical guidelines given by the Buddha regarding skillful speech, and (2) developing presence and mindfulness during speech (including listening). We focus most of the time on the third foundation of cultivating empathic connection with another, clarifying the difference between empathy and compassion, giving some of the findings of studies in neuroscience about empathy, and examining what blocks empathy. We then work with a simple (yet powerful) empathy practice of tuning into (1) emotions, and (2) what matters, and move into a period of discussion.