“How do you listen? Do you listen with your projections, through your projection, through your ambitions, desires, fears, anxieties, through hearing only what you want to hear, only what will be satisfactory, what will gratify, what will give comfort, what will for the moment alleviate your suffering? If you listen through the screen of your desires, then you obviously listen to your own voice; you are listening to your own desires. And is there any other form of listening? Is it not important to find out how to listen not only to what is being said but to everything – to the noise in the streets, to the chatter of birds, to the noise of the tramcar, to the restless sea, to the voice of your husband, to your wife, to your friends, to the cry of a baby? Listening has importance only when on is not projecting one’s own desires through which one listens. Can one put aside all these screens through which we listen, and really listen?”  — J Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti, who died in 1986 at 90, was a philosophical and religious speaker. Indian by birth, but adopted by Annie Besant, president of the Theosophical Society, as a child, and promoted by her as the leader of the new world order that the Theosophists had predicted would come. In 1929 he renounced that claim, and spent the next several decades traveling globally to speak about religion and philosophy, without identifying with any one religion, or ideology. I had the good fortune to hear him speak in Madras in 1984.

It seems that the art of listening is diminishing in direct proportion to the increase in the speed of information, and the shortening of our collective attention span. All too often, we listen to respond, not to hear. In order to engage in productive dialogue, and to understand others, we need to work past that tendency, so that we hear not only the words, but the meaning behind them.

The mindful listening image came from a presentation found on Slideshare.net on Listening Skills http://www.slideshare.net/jgerst1111/listening-skills-10244219  

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