Empathy and compassion as experiential praxis
confronting phenomenological analysis and buddhist teachings
It is well-known that Husserl's analysis of intersubjectivity is primarily based on empathy. Now, such an experience of empathy is described in Husserl as involving the peculiar spatiality of our lived body, a temporal pairing of both lived bodies and a specific imaginative transfer of one's psychic states into those of the other. I would like to confront such a multilayered experience of the other with the way some Buddhist teachings (which first appeared in India and were then transmitted to Tibet) present the experience of compassion within what is called the Mahayana tradition. Indeed, the "tonglen" praxis (as Tibetans call it), which is described very concretely in such a framework, echoes in many ways the Husserlian empathetic experience as far as the bodily rooting, the synchronizing timing are concerned and above all as far as the way imagination is taken into account. By comparing both praxis and analysis with regard to lived space, time and imagination, we will be able to evaluate their affinities, their differences and finally how they may enlight and even generate each other. 1
Depraz, N. (2004)., Empathy and compassion as experiential praxis: confronting phenomenological analysis and buddhist teachings, in D. Carr & C. Cheung (eds.), Space, time, and culture, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 189-200.
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