Can we live the life of another?
What would life be like if we were able to change our viewpoint from one mind and body to another? How would the world then be seen?
Can a person really understand what it is like to stand in the shoes of another? We all live in this world from a singular perception, relying on our feelings to guide us on understanding other people and the interaction that they have with us. Some think that compassion is the closest thing to stepping into someone else's life. They ask, "how would I feel if I were in the same position?' They imagine and play out the circumstances in their heads to try and see through the eyes of another.
What is really happening here when such things take place?
Imagine that Sally is walking to the shops and she sees in front of her a beggar on the street asking for money. She begins to think, "gee, I feel sorry for that guy who sits begging in his dirty old clothes, not able to help himself.' Then within her thoughts she thinks of how life would be like in such a circumstance. Some of the first things she might question in herself are:
Where could she get food?
How could she wash herself?
Where could she sleep?
These questions, however, are not realized to be about how Sally feels, not truly how the beggar would really feel within his own reasoning position. The compassion that Sally has is more based on her own fears created within herself derived from what she considers not to be the standard way of living life. Sally is not the beggar so therefore cannot reason a multitude of things that are really important within his life.
Having compassion for someone is one thing, but actually knowing how they truly feel is another. Not one person is the same and utilizes their thoughts in the same way. When we think things inside ourselves we immediately assume that others understand and think in the same lines, but it can be quite the opposite. Whilst one person might be thinking of the situation of the beggar from a sympathetic point of view the next might be seeing him as weak and not willing to make a change in his life. Each is a totally separate viewpoint on the creation within this world. Each person has their own singular viewpoint that is unique and differing to all others.
How then would we assume that we can understand another when in totality we can never truly be them in form. Here is another example of how this might be seen:
Sally is talking with her friend Kim. Kim has a story to tell her about an experience she had with her boyfriend, that he did something to hurt her. Sally's compassionate nature feels sorry for her friend and she immediately thinks that her friend should separate from her boyfriend in order to protect herself. Sally immediately assumes that she is feeling and communicating correctly with her friend Kim when she agrees to what she is saying. Then they part from each other to go back to their separate lives.
What is then in Kim's mind now? Is it exactly what her friend Sally says that will influence her to make changes in her life?
Kim was sitting with her friend Sally in the café. They were talking about her boyfriend and what he had done to her. She has so much love for her boyfriend that she understands why he has done it, because lately she has been neglecting him a lot with all the work she has been doing. However, she is angry inside and what her friend says to her she thinks about, that maybe they are better off apart. But then as she is walking away she cannot bear the thought to live without him and wants to mend their differences and find more time for him. She does not want to have the separation.
When viewing back at these two paragraphs from the different viewpoints of Sally and Kim, is Sally really understanding her friend and living within her shoes to give her advice of how she should make changes in her life?
The obvious answer is no.
We cannot ever walk in the shoes of another, never feel how they feel. If we did then things would be so different to what we could imagine because we would no longer have the mind from our old body but the mind of the new one that thinks so different and views life from such a different perspective, with different past and experiences.
When you think that you are relating to another and you give advice on how people should live their life, ask yourself, am I giving advice to what I would like or what the other person really needs? In turn to this your life can not be lived by another, the way you view is from your own perspective and determines how you wish to view the world around you. It is all a unique experience, one that can not be lived by another.