Monday, March 16, 2009

How to Listen

Those who know each other well tend to anticipate each other's words and thoughts. Habitual communication creates a sense of almost-certainty about how the other is thinking and feeling. Often, these assumptions are not correct.

To take back projections and assumptions, one must become un-knowing. This is the basis for starting anew in relationships. One must un-know and ask, rather than assume.

Un-knowing and listening can be undertaken anytime, anywhere. To hear, attention must be directed to what another is saying and feeling, not to what the voice within one's own head is saying and feeling.

Here is the basis for moving beyond the ego. It is why religious orders, especially of the past, have taken vows of silence, namely, to separate from the motives that give rise to much common speaking and to improve the faculty of listening to both the human and the Divine.

Today, few take actual vows of outer silence, but many strive to take vows of inner silence. This is the silence of the mental process, the silence in which truth and compassion can emerge. The vow of inner silence reduces the power of the ego. It enables us to listen and to hear the voice of truth.

'Making a point' is not listening, it is striving to have one's own voice be heard.

'Being right' is not listening. It is assuring the ego that self-esteem and self-worth are still in place.

Being outwardly silent may involve listening, but it also may not. It may involve withdrawal and inattention.

To listen, one must let go of striving and let go of withdrawal. Pay attention. Hear with your heart. Hear the voice that speaks to you through the lips of another. Hear the pain and the beauty that lie within.

To join with another in their depth you must see them first and know who they are. Then you will know how to respond.

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