THE ART OF LISTENING
When we are stuck in our thoughts, it is impossible to see clearly. Listening is a way of getting underneath the confusion. Instead of searching for clarity, listening brings you into clarity. Not a forced listening, but a mind open in wonder and curiosity, open to what is arising.
Let us ask some questions and listen in. Is the world divided? Are all things separate? Can we modify and change nature for the better? Is hierarchy the natural order of life and human society? What is the consequence of this way of thinking? Are our maps reality?
Or, is the world whole? Are all things interconnected? When we look at the Earth from space, do we see countries? Does everything flow together? The hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere are interdependent of one another is one grand life system.
Would we survive without the sun? Without water? Without plants and trees? Without insects? Without bacteria? Does nature need us to manage it? Ecosystems have been around longer than us, and in fact, is a flowing evolutionary system of interconnectivity and interdependency that have functioned without anything needing to manage them. Eco systems don’t need us to mangage, but we need ecosystems in order to exist.
Do we do more harm to ecosystems by killing off things we have chosen to identify as pests or predators? What is the impact of the meat and dairy industry on biodiversity and climate? Does our use of pesticides and herbicides put toxins into the soil and water systems? Was evolution just a culmination of human kind rising above all else? Or all creatures presently evolving just as we are? Are we at war with the world?
Artificial intelligence and social media were built by fragmentary thought, the same sort of thinking that has created a culture that is at war with the world. AI’s and social media are not going to solve the problems, but create more problems and potentially very deadly problems. Yet, we continue to use and develop these ideologies even know how harmful they can be for we become addicted to progress. Yet, what does progress even mean when it pits us against one another?
If we were to stop and pause, we would see directly that there really is no such thing as division and the division is created by our cultural conditioning. There is no such thing as the United States. There is no such thing as Russia. There is no such thing as Christianity or Buddhism. There is no such thing as capitalism, communism, or socialism. Words are never the thing itself. Yet, we will kill or create enemies because of our deep attachment to these words and beliefs.
Killing off other creatures for our own benifit would be seen as ridiculous as all things are connected. What we do to anything else will impact us.
If we are to truly see, we must finally get out of our heads and dreaming and finally listen. To stop and notice our thoughts before reacting is presence. It is giving space to see. This is not a partial listening, but listening with a quiet mind. This way of listening is not forced.
The quiet mind comes out of listening, by being present. This listening can happen by being one with your thoughts or feelings, and not trying to change them or label them. This listening can happen by being present with the person you are with no matter the difference of beliefs. In this listening, one can come to the other with compassion instead of reactivity. In this listening, one may be able to open up a dialogue that otherwise could not happen.
This listening can happen when you look at the sky and clouds, or birds or insects. This listening can happen when you are walking. This listening can happen when you are at work. This is when contemplation is not partial, but flows through life itself.
Why don’t we do this? Because we are not taught to do this. In our childhoods, we are taught to close off our sense of wonder. Because, we are taught to close off our passions and follow authority and become stuck in identies and beliefs. And we grow accustomed to this as we adapt really well to how we are taught to see the world. We then become afraid to change and know that to truly listen, we need to pause and in this space the ego holds no sway. To listen confronts the ego’s reality and impermanence. So instead of listening, we escape into all sorts of addictions or beliefs. Which continue all the divisions and suffering we see today.
Yet, changing oneself actually isn’t that scary nor difficult. Just as we can easily be conditioned over time into dysfunction, we can just as easily let go of conditioning. If we stop identifying with thought, we can begin to break out of our conditioning and begin to see that we are so much more than a mere ego. If we can pause and listen, we will begin to see that there is no division at all, and that all is whole. Here, one would see that one is in actuality all that is. Wholeness within, wholeness without. Here, what does one really need? Seeing no division, we would see ourselves in all that is. Here, we would see that all creatures are just as alive as oneself. Here, we would see that love instead of hate, compassion instead of fear, and sustainablity instead of warring if what happens when we listen. In this listening, we tap into Wholeness. In wholeness, love flows forth for the dams of thoughts are no longer holding it back.
Here, instead of forcing societal change, change simply happens organically. This may seem counterintuitive. Yet, if you really dive into listening, see what you discover with an open curiosity. A whole new world may open up to you, a world beyond thought and imagination.