“The very nature of intelligence is sensitivity, and this sensitivity is love. Without this intelligence there can be no compassion. Compassion is not the doing of charitable acts or social reform; it is free from sentiment, romanticism, and emotional enthusiasm. It is as strong as death. It is like a great rock, immovable in the midst of confusion, misery, and anxiety” (Jiddu Krishnamurti).
OUR “SENSES” ARE IMPORTANT BOTH PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY. In the physical realm, if our fingertips are insensitive (that is, they can’t feel anything), that is a significant problem. But emotionally, if we have a low degree of sensitivity (our hearts can’t feel anything), that is an even greater problem. Our senses, whether physical or emotional, are meant to give us feedback from the external world, and if they don’t do so, then we are isolated within our own selves.
As Krishnamurti suggests, sensitivity is closely linked to love. Love is an outward-moving force that urges us in the direction of others. It causes us to want to serve their needs. But to act responsibly, love must be preceded by sensitivity. We must be able to “feel” with our hearts the experiences and needs of those around us. It is difficult to imagine how a person could love and not make an effort to be sensitive. We may love and not be as sensitive as we ought to be, but love will make us want to improve our sensitivity, at the very least.
Sensitivity requires paying conscious attention to those around us. “It means ‘tuning in’ to the thoughts and feelings of [others], listening to the cues they give us, and reacting appropriately to what we detect” (James C. Dobson). For busy people like us, that is not easy.
Not only does sensitivity require conscious effort; it is somewhat dangerous. It requires openness, receptivity, and even the willingness to be vulnerable. It can’t be practiced very well by “protective” people.
In the end, it is usually suffering that teaches us what sensitivity means and how to practice it. It is the taste of tears that makes our hearts more responsive to the tears of others. And it is the struggle to overcome difficulty that makes our “senses” more alive and alert.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen” (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross).