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Eye-opening Understanding of Compassionate Listening

By Rhaka Katresna, Indonesian co-translator of Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening,


When I listen, I allow the image of other people’s suffering to appear in front of me. This has become a common practice since applying Compassionate Listening to my daily life. The journey through the course from September to October 2022 was eye-opening for me. Now, as I enter into the next chapter of my life, this practice has become foundational.

My friend Ami and I worked together to translate the Compassionate Listening book into Indonesian. We live in separate cities. I live in Bandung, in the West Java Province while Ami lives in Pati, in the Central Java Province. When we were translating I traveled around 11 hours from Pati to Bandung. It was a great adventure. Translating together was always enjoyable and insightful.

I am an activist and I have also supported Ami in developing practices and community activities. Ami founded an organization named Bestari Keswa Pati to support people with mental health problems. We decided to translate the Intro to Compassionate Listening book because we came to the conclusion that it would support us to approach people more compassionately. Compassionate listening is in line with our local principle of Welas Asih, meaning wisdom on compassion. We were eager to learn and wanted to practice Compassionate Listening to help us in our daily life and show us better ways to approach and practice our activism.

Susan Partnow was the facilitator for our course. One teaching she taught that was significant to me was the acknowledgement of suffering. In the session, Susan told us to“… be aware of our own and other peoples’ suffering.” Since the course runs after midnight for us in Indonesia, it wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I realized something sparked about the material from the night before. I could feel something new activated within me.

I knew I had to practice to better understand this change that happened in my heart and mind, so I searched for people to practice Compassionate Listening with. When I practiced, an image showed up in front of me and I became aware of my ability to imagine what the people whom I listened to could be experiencing. The workshop also changed how I responded to their story. I became calmer and thought that I had nothing to lose by listening to my friend. I didn’t try to remember all the details of their story yet I was still able to grasp almost everything they said without much effort.

The information came to me simply. When people spoke, it was about what they feel, what they think, what they need, and what their values are. Together we connected because of our shared consciousness and we moved towards understanding together.

The introductory sessions were fruitful and insightful. The workshop helped Ami and I understand and practice the material from the book better. I feel ready for the upcoming chapter of my life and look forward to my continued involvement with the community of Compassionate Listening practitioners.


Rhaka Katresna is from Indonesia and has translated Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening into Indonesian along with his friend Laksmi Anindya Cahyanti. He wants to help support the spread of Compassionate Listening in his country.

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