Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Listening

Someone once said that if you want to be interesting, you need to be interested. The person who rattles on and on and on, regardless of the topic of conversation, demanding to be the center of attention, dragging all the energy to him- or herself, understands little about human relationships and makes others look for a quick exit. Indeed, such people only do monologues, perhaps skillfully punctuated by the feigned politeness of a brief foray into dialogue, but never rising to the level of real conversation. And the fact that they show no interest in you or your views makes them doubly uninteresting. Most people, thankfully, are not so totally self-absorbed as to be incapable of entering into the give and take of conversation, the joy of contact with others.

But rather than judge others in terms of their degree of self-centeredness, we strive to listen well, to let the other person be heard. Listening changes the entire event into a direct relationship, a more essential contact between oneself and the other person.

To really listen, to actively listen to another person, we need to be quiet inside and give our open-hearted attention to him or her. Usually, though, as someone talks to us, we are anything but quiet inside. Instead of listening to the other person, we passively listen to all our own reactions and thoughts. We begin formulating and rehearsing responses. We grow anxious to reply, to rebut, to interrupt, to get our thoughts out before we forget them. But when we can let our reactions and thoughts come and go, listening quietly to the other person, in an open, accepting way, without judgment, we create a space, an atmosphere that produces a profound effect both on ourselves and on others. We postpone the preparation of our responses, our disagreements and disputes for later, for our turn to speak. In the meantime, we just listen.

When you can be so quiet inside that you can rest in consciousness while the other person speaks, consciousness may open to include both of you. In that moment you participate in a deeper communication, beyond words and speaking. You touch the essential unity we all share, healing the divisions. Then the words float on the surface, yet you honor them nonetheless.

The practice of listening helps dissolve our identification with our views and opinions, with ourselves. This practice brings fluidity and sets the stage for becoming able to listen to our intuitive wisdom, to the silent voice of the spirit.


     

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