DEVOTIONAL EMPATHY – STORY
(By H.H.Sacinandhana swami)
One who is Krishna conscious is a perfect yogi; he is aware of everyone’s happiness and distress by dint of his own personal experience.
A devotee of the Lord always looks to the welfare of all living entities, and in this way he is actually the friend of everyone.
We find an explicit, powerful call for devotional empathy in the Bhagavatam (6.10.9): “If one is unhappy to see the distress of other living beings and happy to see their happiness, his religious principles are appreciated as imperishable by exalted persons who are considered pious and benevolent.”
A boy went to the pet store to buy a puppy.
Four of them were sitting together, priced at $50 each.
Then there was one sitting alone in a corner.
The boy asked if that one was from the same litter, if it was for sale, and why it was sitting alone.
The store owner replied that it was from the same litter, but it was a deformed one and not for sale.
The boy asked what the deformity was.
The store owner replied that the puppy was born without a hip socket and had a leg missing.
The boy asked, “What will you do with this one?”
The reply was that it would be put to sleep.
The boy asked if he could play with that puppy.
The store owner said, “Sure.”
The boy picked up the puppy and the puppy licked him on the ear.
Instantly, the boy decided that was the puppy he wanted to buy.
The store owner said, “That is not for sale!”
The boy insisted.
The store owner agreed.
The boy pulled out $2 from his pocket and ran to get $48 from his mother.
As he reached the door the store owner shouted after him, “I don’t understand why you would pay full money for this one when you could buy a good one for the same price.”
The boy did not say a word. He just lifted his leg trouser leg—he was wearing a brace.
The pet store owner said,
“I understand. Go ahead, take this one.”
That is empathy.
What is the difference between sympathy and empathy?
Sympathy is “I understand how you feel.”
Empathy is “I feel how you feel.”
Both sympathy and empathy are important, but of the two, empathy is certainly more so.