Shambhala Sun | January 2014
The receptive state of listening is a kind of auditory
meditation, says SAKYONG MIPHAM. It is an important way to gain wisdom and insight. But it’s not easy.
It is said that when the Buddha first taught, two deer
approached, knelt down, and raised their ears. The two deer symbolize
the act of listening, a sublime way of being present in the moment. Their
perked-up ears represent keen attentiveness, their kneeling bodies relaxation
and respect. The receptive state of listening is an important way to gain
wisdom and insight. It is auditory meditation.
True listening is not always easy. It is a skill we develop.
In this era of technological expertise and emotional unavailability, all too
often there is more speaking than listening. We are not really conversing but
merely exchanging rhetoric.
For a genuine dialogue to occur, speaking and listening must
both play leading roles. Conversation is a dance and play between two
interlocking human minds, which naturally creates harmony. Therefore, having a
good conversation is an art that benefits oneself and others.
In the art of conversation, two people are equal partners.
When one is speaking, one is more active; when one is listening, one is more
receptive. A conversation where someone is speaking but no one is listening
fosters disharmony—within the conversation and within the relationship. Thus,
in order for the conversation to be healthy and productive and to grow, both
participants need to take turns listening.
One reason we have conversations is that often we just need
someone to hear what we have to say. However, in a world where we are
constantly encouraged to indulge and gratify our own desires, it can be
difficult to find someone to listen, because that means focusing on the other
person rather than oneself. Unfortunately, we are creating a culture in which
everyone is expressing themselves but no one is listening.