In the last blog, concentration and meditation were compared and contrasted.
In this blog we look at the relationship between meditation and listening.
A key skill to the practice of (interfaith) conflict resolution is listening. It is also key to cultivating the meditative disposition. Like the Chinese sage, you may have noticed that we have one mouth but two ears. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying : “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
Listening is not merely hearing words. It is a holistic reception - a total listening of body, heart and mind to what is being communicated. There is the surface and the depths, the spoken and the unspoken; the affect or emotional tone; the attitude and its root beliefs that all need to be listened to. There is also appreciating the significance of situation or context in which communication occurs.
Deep listening precludes the busy preparation of one's next response...
Deep listening precludes the busy preparation of one’s next response. Letting go of the distraction of competing thoughts, of rejoinders, of the need to have the last word, is part of the discipline of listening. Only then can the movement of thought lead into new cognitive territory. Rehashing the known reinforces the ego and subtly closes out the other. Appreciating the other’s point of view, rather than competing with it, involves a temporary suspension of judgment and an opening towards self-transcendence.
Authentic communication is an opening up, not a closing down. Words are too often used to build walls rather than bridges. Be aware of when conversation strives to shield with an intimidating edifice, and when it actually reveals the subject, inviting the listener to join in a common awareness. Those epiphanies are communication morphing into communion.
The measure to which we are capable of such listening is the measure to which we can listen to our interior self. The outer and inner movement are one. The conscious psyche orientates itself to the unconscious psyche. This is what meditation is : relaxing the conscious awareness so it can receive the impress of the unconscious. The benefits, unsought, undesired, are tremendous.
Our interior teacher lies below and beyond the structures of consciousness...
Our interior teacher lies below and beyond the structures of consciousness. There are many, diverse exterior teachers in the world, experts in their respective departments of specialised knowledge. But the interior teacher guides us to esoteric knowledge, which is generalised, philosophical and whole-of-life. Communicating - nay, communing - with the interior teacher is a source of contemplation. For the believer, it is a participation in divine mysteries.
Conscience, the voice that tells us right from wrong is also associated with the interior teacher. When we fail to hear this voice, we lapse into amorality, and ultimately into depression and despair.
Wisdom is the interior aspect of knowledge. Understanding is the exterior.
Wisdom “hears” the interior teacher, and intuits pure ideas inspiring the whole spectrum of human conception. Understanding enables us to enter into meaningful exchange with what others know, including experts; to identify who knows what they're talking about, and to what degree.
Next time we discuss how knowledge, one of the fruits of meditation, is the marriage of wisdom and understanding applied as opinion and skills.
We also discuss another fruit, creativity, and the fourfold creative process.