Words are the shell. They feed intellectual knowledge. What lies in the middle of words is the seed that, if presented and embraced in a certain way, will take us to the place we seek. But words in and of themselves are worthless, like so many knickknacks we may collect and leave on a shelf to gather dust, if we are unable to move beyond them.
For the purpose of making a point, I’m going to offer a distinction between hearing and listening. We’ll regard hearing as the mechanical process of sound hitting the apparatus that then filters through to register in our brains; within whatever paradigms we’ve already developed. The brain quickly sorts the sound or series of words into what appears to be the relevant slot in order to determine logic. However, when something is boxed in, other things are locked out.
Listening is the process whereby we are able to admit a further awareness than the one first taken in through the sonar signal. Listening actively ignores cognitive dissonance, if there is any, to see how there may be relevance—instead of involuntarily determining how there isn’t.
After all, if we’re on the spiritual path, we can trust that there is much we don’t know. These mysteries are hidden from us until we are ripe. The paradox is that we frantically attempt to know in order to surrender to the place of not knowing! The other paradox is that there are no mysteries because the cues are surrounding us all the time. We’re just too tied up to recognize them.
In order to be open to the deeper awareness, the possibility resident in the word-seed, we need to be in a state of receptivity. Instead, we more often take the words, and through our limited education, create conjectures that lead to certain expectations of what is meaningful, good, right and true.
Expectation is related to control. Control is related to fear. When we control, through convoluted strictures, the nature of our comprehension, we merely exhibit our fear. Our fear-based, narrow understandings are released through the mind like so much perfume, and we only notice what we expected coming back to us through the attraction of what we emit. In this way, we generate our own limited happiness, disappointment, sadness, anger, confusion and general heaviness. We perpetuate this process automatically—unless we consciously seek to break the cycle.
Too often when a spiritual teacher is speaking to a group, I have seen some of those present scribbling furiously in notebooks or journals, thereby splitting their attention. How can we write and really listen at the same time? I have also heard people ask a plethora of questions, or make comments, most often having little to do with the real depth of the words given.
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