Listening
December 2014 Graduate Meeting

Video for this meeting:
The Art of Being Heard by Susan Piver [16 min]
The Sacred Art of Listening by Tara Brach [19 min]

    Right speech involves listening from the heart, that is, you give your full attention to the words of others and listen without judging, preparing a response, or comparing. Listening from the heart means that you listen with an attitude of compassion, kindness, and humility.
           - from Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt

    ...listen…
    I do not know if you have ever examined how you listen, it doesn’t matter to what, whether to a bird, to the wind in the leaves, to the rushing waters, or how you listen in a dialogue with yourself, to your conversation in various relationships with your intimate friends, your wife or husband…
    If we try to listen we find it extraordinarily difficult, because we are always projecting our opinions and ideas, our prejudices, our background, our inclinations, our impulses; when they dominate we hardly listen at all to what is being said…
    In that state, there is no value at all. One listens and therefore learns, only in a state of attention, a state of silence, in which this whole background is in abeyance, is quiet. Then, it seems to me, it is possible to communicate.
    …real communication... can only take place where there is silence.
           - from J. Krishnamurti Online

    When … someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good… When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to reperceive my world in a new way and go on.  It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens, how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.
           - from A Way of Being by Carl Rogers

    ...What evidence is there that we’ve adequately empathized with the other person? First, when an individual realizes that everything going on within has received full empathic understanding, they will experience a sense of relief. We can become aware of this phenomenon by noticing a corresponding release of tension in our own body. A second even more obvious sign is that the person will stop talking. If we are uncertain as to whether we have stayed long enough in the process, we can always ask, “Is there more that you wanted to say?”
           - from Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

    Poor listeners, underdeveloped listeners, are frequently unable to separate their own needs and interests from those of others. Everything they hear comes with an automatic bias: How does this affect me? What can I say next to get things my way? Poor listeners are more likely to interrupt: either they have already jumped to conclusions about what you are saying, or it is just of no interest to them. They attend to the surface of the words rather than listening for what is “between the lines.” When they speak, they are typically in one of two modes. Either they are “downloading”—regurgitating information and pre-formed opinions—or they are in debate mode, waiting for the first sign that you don’t think like them so they can jump in to set you straight. All these behaviors were abundantly on display in the health care debate.
    Good listening, by contrast, means giving open-minded, genuinely interested attention to others, allowing yourself the time and space to fully absorb what they say. It seeks not just the surface meaning but where the speaker is “coming from”—what purpose, interest, or need is motivating their speech. Good listening encourages others to feel heard and to speak more openly and honestly.
    Deep Listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience.
           - from Deep Listening by David Rome

 
Closing Thoughts

     The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. Only he who listens can speak.
           - Dag Hammarskjold

God, Speak to Me

"God, speak to me"
And the meadowlark sang
But the man did not hear.

So the man yelled
"GOD SPEAK TO ME"
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the man did not listen

The man looked around and said,
"God let me see you"
And a star shone brightly
But the man did not notice

And the man shouted,
"GOD, SHOW ME A MIRACLE!"
And a life was born
but the man did not know.

So the man cried out in despair
"Touch me God, and let me know you are here!"
Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

- anonymous