The power of listening. Quality is everything.
What we listen to determines whether we create a wall between ourselves and the outside world or open ourselves to the possibility of a universal family. Inherently we are very good listeners, exemplified by how carefully we listen when the mind speaks to us through suggestive thoughts. Rarely do we doubt, talk back to or ignore the mind. For the most part, we obligingly carry out instructions that silently come to us from the mind through thoughts, making us akin to programmable robots. While we are transacting with the world, the faculty of listening is very much turned on but is tuned to the mind’s frequency. Rarely do we listen with complete attention when someone else speaks. However, when the topic of conversation switches to salacious gossip, the mind eases its grip and rests, and we consciously become very keen listeners. The quality of our speech although very important, it is secondary compared to the quality of what and who we listen to.
The uncomfortable truth about us is that we are generally self-centered. This stems chiefly from the survival instinct that has a strong presence in our lives from the first cry to the last gasp. Impeding the flow of air into the lungs for a few minutes, depriving the body of food or water for a day or denying the mind of sensory pleasures for a week brings this survival mechanism to the forefront regardless of the external situation. While this primal process of self-preservation is constantly working in the background, we create an external veneer of sophistication through our speech, mannerisms, clothing etc. For example, food which is a bare necessity may be partaken in fancy restaurants amongst finely dressed individuals, at home or from a food cart on the street. Whether food comes from a fine dining establishment or from a vendor on the street the body treats it as a means of survival. The origin and place of consumption of the food are never registered by the cells of the body.
Once the need for food is taken care of, desires grab our attention. Having a desire does not by itself make us self-centered. It is virtually impossible to be desire free. Going from fulfilling our personal whims and fancies to spreading happiness by considering the wishes and desires of others dilute the power of desire to keep us trapped in our sense of individuality. Trying to experience something over and beyond our basic survival needs can either be liberating or extremely confining. If those experiences are limited to the mind and the senses, it confines us to body consciousness. The body then becomes like a temporary oasis in the middle of an endless desert, life energy in the body becomes subservient to the mind. If that aspiration to experience extends beyond the confines of our individual self, the physical body becomes like a tiny seed in a forest full of trees. Just as a forest has no defined boundary wall made of brick and mortar, our skin ceases to be a barrier to our awareness.
The power to rule over others can be highly intoxicating. The mind is drunk on this power and we freely oblige. Just as we learn from the company we keep, we surreptitiously mimic the mind’s behavior and attempt to exert our self-proclaimed authority over others. However, true power comes when we are able to be masters of our own mind and hold our tendency to impose upon others in check. When our mind starts to listen to us, the whole world will then pay attention to what we speak. This is true soft power, it is beneficial to the world and importantly inflicts no harm in the process to ourselves or others. Sustaining the intensity of this inner power requires selfless love. However, when our hunger for power leaks into the world, love is sheltered and only caters to our individual self. When this strength is retained within and the mind falls under its control, love freely escapes into the wider world. The energy of this unconditional love elevates us towards a higher plane of existence that does not depend on physical comforts. Love that is sheltered to our individual self, in comparison, brings us back to the basic needs of food, shelter and primal desires.
When we are able to unshackle ourselves from the need for excessive physical comforts, satiating desires and the need for power the “chase” is over. There is no further need to chase time into the past or the future. Just as the sound of an alarm in the morning changes our state of awareness from sleep to the waking state, time functions as an alarm that goes off every second, try to awaken us from the external dream to the internal reality. However, we fail to heed this alarm until it is too late. By “listening” to time every moment, we automatically stop listening to the mind which speaks from the past and talks about the future. Nature and the world around us and converses in the present tense. Our listening power is greatly enhanced by paying heed to the quality of the present moment.