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Are you Listening?
Overactive Intellectualism to Meditative Being
To listen. To truly listen. BREATHE.
Listening is an act of surrender. The greater the surrender, the deeper the listening. One who Listens to the utmost is in Yoga, meditative perfection.
In our busy, day to day, hustling and bustling lives, it is easy to become so constricted in our thoughts, our emotions, our time, and our patience that even hearing ourselves becomes a struggle, let alone listening. When we hear ourselves or someone or something, we are simply recognizing sound, whereas listening is a practice of absorption of oneself one way or another, or totally, in the fullness of the thing happening. When we are too filled up with content to even recognize the sound of life, we have lost ourselves.
Let’s extend out the act of listening to greater see what is being offered here. At all times, the average man or woman has a constant stream of thought running in their head, like a movie reel spinning, each frame on the reel being projected into the front of ones attention by the light of awareness. These thoughts are cyclical just like the reel, follow one another by habit and organized reaction. The more intelligent a person is, usually the more reels are moving simultaneous before the before that light, making them capable of holding awareness and attention on different or even contradictory thoughts concurrently.
When we are allowing our attention to be welded to this reel of thought, we are releasing control of ourself, our sovereignty, to reactive and manipulatable patterns of behavior. But, when we recognize, when we see or observe, this structure, we are then aware that thought is not the fullness of life, that we are more than simply thought. We become aware of the other, the observer.
In exploring the realms of ourself that lie outside of thought, we can find where true listening exists. When we direct our attention inward toward that light that shines upon the reel of thought, we see the infinite observer. We see the source of experience. That light is awareness itself. It has no other attributes. It is simply aware, and observes. As you pass within the realm of awareness, you are beyond and outside the domain of thought. In this realm, one is unreactive. You are not rendered dumb, but rather are so absorbed in the full expression of witnessing life in its immense and ineffable beauty that the gross language we humans use is like a toddler trying to paint the Sistene Chapel or carve out The Thinker. It is simply a rough, unrefined, inaccurate, and inappropriate tool once you have seen beyond the limits of the realm of thought.
This is the furthest extent of listening. To become. It is listening as being. It is perfect Union with the object of ones attention. When in perfect listening, there is no separation, only a clear, sharp, and endless recognition, a knowing beyond words, thought, study and effort. It is perfection of union, Yoga.
Let’s bring this down to earth. Most people are unable to grasp the experiential knowing of perfect listening. The proof of this is in how you, the reader, are likely either having thoughts invade your mind while reading or listening to this, or even are attempting to read or listen in-between, around, or through that reel of thought that is refusing to quit. If you have any interest in experiencing what it is that is being spoken of, you might first read…
…as it is fear, doubt, ignorance and confusion that are the downfall of human liberation from self-imposed limits. If you are speaking to yourself when reading this, ask yourself after every line, “did I listen to this?,” or “did I catch the meaning of this?,” and thus build a mechanism to begin holding yourself accountable to truly pay attention to whatever it is you are trying to engage with, rather than be giving the reel of thought control of your response or even your attention. From there, one can begin to delve into the practice of absorption.
Let’s bring this even further down to earth. Listening is a practice that never ends. One encounter with something greater than your ego and you will never be able to go back to a state of ignorance. Once you know, you know. But, without this experience, why, how, and in what way can people benefit from listening a bit deeper? Firstly, people around you will appreciate and Love you if you lend them your time, your patience, your suspension of judgement, and your compassion, which are all components of perfect listening. When you can offer those you encounter in this life a place of solace, respect, dignity, catharsis, and free expression, you are offering to them a place where they do not have to wear a mask. Where they can be, and even find, themselves. By listening in this way to others, you will also discover deeper awareness of yourself, while you widen the rivers of compassion, patience, and other virtues in yourself. By listening, you will find your shame and guilt and fear and pain, and you will be able to heal and forgive and sit with equanimity, and you will find yourself changing with no more effort than it takes to see, to feel, to be.
. . Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.
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What we are discussing here is meditation. It is Yoga. There are many paths to get to meditativeness and Yoga, but here we are speaking on listening, to focus on this, become this, and be washed in it. Meditation is absolute clarity. To meditate is to be in absolute clarity. Yoga is union. To be in Yoga is to be in absolute union. Today, these words are used to describe actions, but neither of these words mean action. They are closer to inaction than action. They are indicative of action without action, movement without movement, and infinite mind, which is beyond the realm of thoughts, from which action is derived. As the Buddha said….
“Thought is the forerunner of all action. All action is led by mind…”
Thus, when someone says, “I’m going to do Yoga,” what they really mean is, “I’m going to practice the refinement of body and mind in the ways that bring me closer to Yoga.” When someone is sitting in a quiet room “meditating” and another comes into the room making a racket, and they say, “I’m meditating, can you be quiet?,” what they are really saying is “I’m practicing silencing my mind, so I might become meditative.” The language we use is very important, so as we don’t water down that which is beyond words and thought.
Contemplation is another, less lofty, suspension of thought for the purpose of knowing. To contemplate is to sit with. To look upon something clearly.
A contemplative posture might be considered as a man sitting in a field, staring at a flower. He does not ask with his thoughts, but rather stares with an observant mind. He suspends judgement and pays attention to his thoughts and all the activity under his observation. He does not cross over to meditative absorption and perfect union. He may yet find much in his contemplation. The still mind reflects the stillness and that which moves.
There is a sound in silence. It is quiet and it is loud, a whisper in a crowded room, a shout from a cloud-covered peak.
The sound in silence,
is loudness not measured.
The note ripples like crystalline water,
roaring a mighty ululation.
Careening down tenebrous catacombs of mind,
marching into the infinite sea.
The sound in silence,
is for the listener.
About a decade ago, I was introduced to Rainbow Gatherings. While there is certainly much to enjoy at these happenings, the greatest thing I have seen there, are listening circles. When I arrived to these circles and counsels, I was impressed with the level of respect, patience, discipline, and compassion that several of those present offered to the others. I saw people listening deeply, together, as witnesses to others expressions. While not all the people were as adept as the few who sat contemplatively, there were many who were very close, and fewer who were very far. A decade later, and I fully contend that listening circles are the most advanced form of growth, besides reclusion and monkhood, and finding a spiritual teacher of the highest order. I encourage all who can, to sit in listening circles, also called counsels, at a Rainbow Gathering, particularly the Annual Rainbow Gathering.
If you are one of the many who have difficulty slowing down and stilling the mind, I have an offering for you. It is a breathing technique that is very simple, and can be done in any circumstance, to focus the mind, calm the body, and relieve stress and tension. This technique can be used at every level of advancement in one’s skill, and will ever and always offer rewards.
Eyes closed, take 3 deep breaths, in through the nose, slowly, then release all the air in your body from the mouth, as much as is possible. Focus intensely on this. When all the air has left your body, hold, do not inhale. Hold as long as you can without risk of fainting, then inhale as slowly as possible through your nose.
As you advance in this, you may find that your body wants to move in various ways. Allow this, following your body’s instruction. You may begin to feel more acutely where tension exists and be able to focus your breath, expanding and contracting these particular areas. And you may find that you are becoming more aware of the stream, the reel, of your thoughts, allowing you to contemplate, especially during the exhale and hold.
Finally, allow yourself as many deep breaths as you wish to return your body to normal, but slowed, breathing rhythm.
The source of a cluttered mind is attachment. Fear, Ignorance, Confusion, and Doubt make a mind sticky, like flypaper. Thought is the flies. The more flies get stuck, the less room for other flies, and less space for anything else.
Deep listening is a practice in becoming less sticky, even to becoming frictionless. Less friction, less chance a thought may catch in your mind and become stuck, unable to continue on its way. Listen deep, to the silence, in all its whispers and avalanches. Develop an infinite awareness, a controlled attention, an undisturbable clarity.
There are many who believe themselves intelligent. They record a great mountain of libraries and data to astound. Without pause, they can recite 10,000 things. They can do many things along many processes amd functions. They are like encyclopedias, but if you ask them how they came to know these things, they can only provide who gave them the information. They did not come to know by asking questions and curiosity, but through memorization and regurgitation. They are a canvas that has been painted by others, and they accepted this, even if unconsciously.
There are others, who believe nothing. They question the fundamental nature of everything, without needing answers, and without doubting anything. These ones take no pleasure in recording what others have said is Truth, but instead contemplate upon life in all its myriad and wonderful ways. They question the knowledge and certainty of others, in an innocent quest to get to the bottom of the nature of existence, and any of its various forms. These ones listen intensely to the World, and quickly learn to recognize the disingenuous from the sincere, the Truth from the lie, the attachment from the liberated. They are an empty canvas that only they will paint if they choose to do so, and once the act is done is without a mark.
The quiet people of the world, the listeners, aren’t necessarily silent. They are not only monks in Himalayan temples, or introverted poets trying to place their reflections in the gross language for rhetoric. They don’t always refrain from speech, action, and expression. Many of the most quiet, the deepest of listeners, are the most expressive, and patently so. We simply need look at our historical icons of perfection, such as Jesus and Buddha and Adiyogi. Many have come like atom bombs, reshaping our species and our planet.
To be a deep listener, means to see past the illusion, to recognize it, and the other. To realize deep discernment. The process is one which removes attachment, clutter, sin, friction, fear, doubt, confusion, and ignorance, and produces stillness and equanimity and infinite compassion.
The intellect is running in high gear in our species. Listening is largely forgotten. Our children have been indoctrinated for generations in the practices of memorization and regurgitation, obedience to authority, and thinking only what they are told to think.
We must remember and invest in listening and giving our children the gift of listening.
Thus, it is each one’s duty to become masters of their thoughts, their mind. Once a mind is mastered, the world is mastered.
And Be Free
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