"Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling…The truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection."
The noble truths are noble in the second sense of the word: highly virtuous. This is because the act of seeing yourself in terms of these truths is a noble act. Take the first two truths as an example. The first isn’t just “suffering”; it’s the truth that suffering boils down to clinging to the five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, fabrications, and consciousness) around which we define our sense of who we are. Seeing your sense of self as inherently stressful provides some distance from it. Instead of simply following the dictates of what you think you are, you can step back from those dictates and see how they can be harmful. In this way, you begin to comprehend them, and in gaining this objectivity, you’re in a better position to act in less selfish ways. The willingness to view your sense of self in line with the first noble truth is a virtuous act in and of itself.
Imagine that you are having difficulties with a loved one, such as your mother or father, husband or wife, lover or friend. How helpful and revealing it can be to consider the other person not in his or her “role” of mother or father or husband, but simply as another “you,” another human being, with the same feelings as you, the same desire for happiness, the same fear of suffering. Thinking of the other one as a real person, exactly the same as you, will open your heart to him or her and give you more insight into how to help.