Soul Needs: Hospitality and Empathy
We mentioned previously that we consider that there are six core conditions that our soul requires to flourish, we refer to them as ‘soul needs’. They are:
Personal honour, courage, hospitality, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, the first three are very ancient values and were held in high regard in many cultures. The last three were identified by eminent American psychologist Carl Rogers (Pictured).
We said in our last blog that these soul needs overlap. I find that this is particularly true with Hospitality and Empathy so much so that I decided to write about both of them in this blog.
Hospitality is defined as: The relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. This includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. In ancient cultures such as Celtic, Norse and Greek, hospitality was a divine right.
We consider that in modern day western society, hospitality is as much about our mental attitude towards friends and strangers as it is about our physical treatment of them for example, lack of judgment, fear and prejudice.
Once again we can see the overlap with the previous core conditions for example it requires a significant amount of courage to admit to our fears and prejudice and to challenge within our self these attitudes. I cannot give a better example of this than Michael Jackson’s song, ‘Man in the Mirror.’
We can also see were it could take a strong sense of personal honour to put the needs of another above our own needs and provide true hospitality rather than a token amount.
It is clear that in ancient times there was immense consideration for the physical well being of another person. The host was honour bound to be hospitable even to the point of putting their own life at risk by giving shelter to a total stranger overnight.
Considering the deplorable homelessness in the wealthy western word perhaps we need to study our ancestor’s view of hospitality. Moreover, in modern day western society I feel that it is not enough just to be hospitable towards a persons physical needs we must also be aware of their emotional wellbeing and quality of life. To be honest it seems to me that on both counts we are falling very far behind our ancestors.
Bernie Sanders recently said, “Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect antidepressant drugs are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.” When you think about it from Bernie's perspective the medical treatment and the way our society treats depression sounds ludicrous it shows the total lack of understanding of the needs of depressed people.
The solution, I feel, to the lack of hospitality is in the fourth soul need, ‘empathy’.
Empathy means entering the private world of another person and becoming thoroughly at home in it. It involves being sensitive, moment to moment, to the changing emotions that he/she is experiencing, without making judgments. It includes communicating your understanding of his/her world as you look with fresh eyes. You are a confident companion to the person in his/her inner world. By pointing to the possible meanings in the flow of his/her experiencing you help the person to experience their meanings more fully, and to move forward in the experiencing.
“To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another’s world without prejudice. In some sense, it means that you lay aside your self and this can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself.” Carl Rogers
Empathy as described above may sound easy but actually it requires a lot of skill and is quite artful. A lot of people think that they just have the ability to empathise with others and therefore don't need any training. Unfortunately, they are mistaken. To be done well empathy has to be taught and learnt. As food for the soul however it’s a win-win situation. When we give empathy to another our soul feels joy. When we receive empathy from another our soul feels joy.
Empathy training is part of our diploma of shamanism and is also taught as an independent module so if you are interested in learning this skill please contact us.