It is worth to die for the living art of listening. To shut the speaking mind while listening is death of beliefs, notions and expectations. If your life is marred by beliefs, notions and expectations, you are hearing and not listening.
For me there is no demarcation between spiritual and non-spiritual worlds. Both worlds are one, separated by beliefs, notions and expectations. If a principle does not hold true in either of the two worlds, it is not worth exploring. “Listening to grow” is one such principle that holds true, either you are trying to accomplish material success or seeking enlightenment.
Listen to what you do not know and speak of what you know: This should be your mantra for simplifying your life whether you consider yourself living in spiritual or non-spiritual world. Next time when you are asked about something and you do not know the answer, muster courage to be honest. This will open a door for you to walk into abundance. This abundance is the opportunity to listen, learn and grow. Growth of wisdom that you can apply to create life of your choice. The underlying notion ” I am supposed to know about everything under the sky” is a dangerous one. This notion is result of false expectation that you are trying to live up to. Being quiet when you need to be quiet is not a sign of ignorance, rather a powerful mode of communication.
It is lack of humility to steer a conversation in a direction away from the topic by trying to speak of what you do not know about.
Simple things are most profound. Listening is one of that simplest activity that cultivates effective speaking. Speaking that stems from ability to listen to what you do not know is filled with confidence, conviction and truth. Let us explore some examples from our life of listening activities. Listening is not only in- person activity. Reading is also a form of listening that could be very effective, as it is not constrained by time, pace and location. An example of reading activity will be used to explore how to enhance listening abilities for growth.
What happens? How are quotes filled with wisdom floating as if falls leafs on stream of social media treated? The never-ending flow of quotes are glanced over, words read, filtered and in no time the quote is shared, forwarded or liked. Without any delay, it is time for next quote. This is similar to sitting on bank of a river, covered with dirt and expecting the dirt to be washed away. Where is “listening” in this social media activity?
Due to lack of listening, growth that was deemed to occur does not happen. After having read numerous quotes, books and talks from role models, either growth is minimal or has not happened at all. Thus, frustration and pain sets in when we discover our efforts have not paid off. We discover our reality when faced with real people and real situations in life. Non-spiritual world (material world) is feedback system without which growth is not possible. Feedback comes from others and our state of being. To a disillusioned mind, afraid of growing, the two worlds do NOT appear as one.
Why it happens? Listening is meant to lead to learning and growth. This requires ability to listen/read without bias. Does a quote from Buddha gets the same attention from you as a quote from someone else who you never heard about? If not, your attention (mind) is biased. Bias is duality. Duality splits the mind into two like a seed broken into two halves that has lost its ability to grow. Bias is result of beliefs, notions and expectations.
At the surface or conscious level, you are making an effort to grow by reading and doing something good. However, something else is happening at subconscious level. At subconscious level, a claim is made that a particular quote from a particular source has more wisdom. To make such a claim, your mind digs into past. All beliefs, notions and expectations exist in memory part of your mind, which is essentially the past. Past does not exist in this moment and thus you cease to exist to be able to listen. You only hear. Hearing is registration a physical activity by a physical organ of your body. Whereas listening is registration of formless (sound waves created by words) by a non-physical organ of your body, called mind.
What should happen? 1You should simply listen instead of hearing. Sounds so simple? Yet it is a profound things that carries a lot of value. Listening is a living art as it hones the more your practice. Without listening, there is no learning and thus no growth.
When you read a quote or a book, the writer is trying to say something and is present in front of you in the form of words. Your part is to listen in that moment of time to what the writer is saying by paying undivided attention to the words. Do you also hear someone else ( a voice in your head) speaking to you at the same time? If you do, a part of your mind is trying to take away from you the opportunity to learn and grow. Your mind does not like to confront the fact that it is does not know everything. Your mind does not like to acknowledge that is perfectly all right not to know. Your mind loves its beliefs, notions and expectations to death. Your mind loves past, as it is known and familiar. Your mind in fear likes to keep shut doors to protect beliefs, notions and expectations. Your mind in disillusion fails to let light enter the dark spaces of pain and suffering to pave for means of growth. Mind appears as bias. This part of the mind is called memory.
The speaking part of mind likes to extrapolate information stored as memory, by using logical formulation and convinces in subconsciously to not listen. 2You should not listen to your speaking mind to avail the opportunity to learn and grow. Read without bias with an open mind free of all the past. When you read like this, you will not only hear, but also listen. When you are actually listening to what you are reading, you will be amused, awed and joyous to grasp due to newness.
3Listening and speaking do not happen simultaneously. Your mind can either listen or speak at one time. When your mind is speaking, it fails to listen. When you sit down to read/listen to someone, do not let your mind speak. A speaking mind trying to listen is like a shattered mirror that fails to reflect what is in front of it. 4Consciously, cultivate the habit of listening, for speaking will follow autonomously.
- To know someone you have to listen to him or her. Drop all beliefs, notions and expectations before you meet someone in person or through their writings.
- For fruitful conversations, you have to let go off the person in your memory, otherwise, you will never be present and will fail to acknowledge presence of the other person in front of you.
- Speaking and listening are building blocks of fruitful conversations. This is an art cultivated over time that requires undivided attention. Fruitful conversations are building blocks of our relationships with the world. Yet, at times, we leave conversations feeling no one heard us. For us to be heard we first need to listen. Most times, we listen to what we already know as our mind speaks without interruption.
- Hearing is not listening. When we hear something that we do not know or is outside our awareness, we reject it internally even though our ears hear. Ability to listen what is not within our awareness is an opportunity to grow through fruitful conversations that shows our caring of others.
Apply above techniques for “listening to grow” in any avenue(s) of your life where you need to excel.
Please do share your experiences, comments, feedback on this topic and any other that you like covered in future posts.