… listen with the qi … This qi is an emptiness which is receptive to all things.  The Way is understood through emptiness.

Zhuangzi, 369-286 B.C.

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Do we listen?  Do we hear?  More to the point in the present age is this: Can we listen?  Is listening lost?

Think about the inordinate frustration you have witnessed or experienced in your personal life.  Think about the disagreements, the times when you wondered to yourself, while you once again repeated what you said yet another time: Am I talking to myself, here?

Think about arguments that ensue when you are not heard, and how when you are not heard you feel alone, alone and apart from a loved-one who you depend upon, to whom you have given your soul.

Believe it or not, seeing gets in the way of hearing.  Better blind, than deft, Dear Friends.

What do I mean?

When we see, we think we know.  Worse yet, we form from sight “a point of view,” opinions which soon become our “preferences” which we must defend at all costs, for they are upon what we build our “certainties.”

The first casualty of this: hearing.  The tragic fatality: listening.  The collateral losses and consequences are then cumulative: relationship, family, community, separation, loneliness, isolation, intimacy, anxiety, despair.

Then the Lord God said, “it is not good that man should be alone …”

Gen 2:18

In seeing there is illusion.  In hearing there is not.

Listening is essential to Word/word – to speech and most importantly to receiving another; reception of another is the most intimate, valuable and essential thing we do in human existence.  No reception, no human contact, no intimacy.

In listening we house another in our sacred interior, in the sacred emptiness within us, in our heart and in our soul.  Our listening brings another to where God resides in us.  Listening mediates God like nothing else can.

In listening, the God in us joins the God in another.  Words are the Word – delivered by the breath God gives each of us.

It is in listening, not seeing, that we find and hold truth.

Listening requires, in the present age of image, appearance and the exterior, that we close our eyes and dismiss our preferences, our always superficial ideologies – which are, by the way, only prejudices, ignorance, fantasy and asocial, relation-stopping foolishness.

The ancient Greeks valued listening because they understood that others, in their words, brought “tidings” and that these gifts warranted their attentive listening.  Mutuality exists in this, fellowship too.

Think about it: Do we not rather expect that God listens to us, receives our prayer, our plea, our voice?  If we are made in God’s image is it not also our responsibility to listen?

Shalom.

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