The problem with listening, of course, is that we don’t. There’s too much noise going on in our heads, so we never hear anything. The inner conversation simply never stops. It can be our voice or whatever voices we want to supply, but it’s a constant racket. In the same way we don’t see, and in the same way we don’t feel, we don’t touch, we don’t taste.
“…simply close your eyes and allow your ears to resonate with whatever sounds may be happening spontaneously, making no attempt to name or identify them, just as when one listens to formal music. After a while one hears the sounds emerging, without cause or origin, from the emptiness of silence, and so becomes witness to the beginning of the universe.”
Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything,
not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still?
Then you hear everything, don’t you?
You hear the far off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by,
the immediate sounds—which means really that you are listening to everything.
Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel.
If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain,
you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you,
a change which comes without your volition,
without your asking;
and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.
With thanks to The Beauty We Love.
Once Mother Theresa was asked what she said when she prayed. She answered that she didn’t say anything, she listened. When asked what God said to her, she said that God didn’t say anything; He listened back. She added that if you didn’t understand, she couldn’t explain it further.
“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”―Mother Theresa
Thank you, sharanam.
The first duty of love is to listen.
What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone,
in the forest, at night, cherished by this
perfectly innocent speech,
the most comforting speech in the world,
the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks I am going to listen.
K: No, find out how to listen, sir. Not conditioning. Will you listen to the child completely? Or you have no time? To your daughter, to your son, he wants to tell you something and will you listen casually - and the child knows that you listen casually, so he loses touch with you immediately, he has no confidence in you because you are concerned about yourself, all the rest of it, so he goes to somebody else, or he runs away from it. You follow? This is happening, for god’ s sake! So will you learn the art of listening? As we said the other day, art means to give everything its proper place. You understand? Its proper place, everything, the word means that. Then I want to listen, I mean, the art of listening. When you want to say something to somebody will you pay complete attention or it’s partial attention, disinterested, casual listening? Or is it saying, ‘Please, I want to understand, for god’ s sake, tell me what you mean’, so that you are fully, completely attentive to what is being said. You follow? Not interpreting, not saying, well, I disagree, you go off and talk about something else, when he is telling you, ‘I love you’. Will you listen? Or only listen when it gives you satisfaction? Or when something is said that will give you pleasure? You won’t listen to a man that wants to hurt you. So - you follow? - listening implies a tremendous attention.
Q: Would you listen to a lot of small talk?
K: Would you listen to a lot of small talk. That depends, I wouldn’t personally, but…
Q: There are two kinds of listening, you have to decide what you want to listen to.
K: Ah! That’s just it. (Laughs) If you decide what you want to listen, you shut off listening altogether.
Q: Sir, how can you tell the difference? As the man said, what is small talk is insignificant.
K: You are all talking small talk. (Laughter) Therefore I am listening casually. But if you are serious and say, ‘Look, I want to understand something completely, tell me’, then we can meet each other. That’s why, sir, do you remember a story, that fact which is quite extraordinary if you go into it, you have heard of the Buddha, Buddhism? The Buddha, 500 BC. He talked about love and all the rest of it, long before Christ, long before. And he preached for fifty years and he had two disciples amongst many who really understood, not intellectually, understood him, lived with him, comprehended his depth, his beauty, and they came every day to listen to him. They didn’t say, ‘Well, I’ll just listen to you, I’ve got it all’, and went away, they came because there was beauty in what he was saying. And these two disciples died before he died. You understand what it means? I wonder if you understand what I am…
So, sirs, and ladies, do you want to learn how to listen? And the art of seeing, seeing something, the trees, the hills, the mountain, your wife, your friend, whatever it is, to see it as though for the first time, not the routine. To look at the familiar face, and look at it as though you are meeting it for the first moment. That can be possible only when all the memories that you have accumulated about that person drop away and you can look. You understand? And we went into the question of learning. If you have gone into it you will find out what it means. Learning which is not merely the accumulation of knowledge, and acting from that knowledge, therefore that action is always, ever incomplete, and therefore it always brings regrets, confusion, misery. And we said there is a different way of learning which is not the action of memory. We went into that a little bit. So if you want to learn this thing you become terribly serious - even for an hour!
—Excerpt from J. Krishnamurti:Third Public Dialogue in Ojai. April 1979
After a time I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all of its own. I started to attend to its strange and beautiful texture, which of course, it was impossible to express in words. I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence, which compelled me to enter my interior world and around there. Without the distraction of constant conversation, the words on the page began to speak directly to my inner self. They were no long expressing ideas that were simply interesting intellectually, but were talking directly to my own yearning and perplexity.