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You can practice deep listening in order to relieve the suffering in us, and in the other
person. That kind of listening is described as compassionate listening. You listen only
for the purpose of relieving suffering in the other person.
We generally think of listening as a passive act, as if we are a tabula rasa (blank slate), open to whatever words leave the speakers’ lips and cleanly fall upon our open ears and inquiring mind. A more accurate statement might be that, “we don’t listen, never have and never will!” What we fail to take into account when we consider the complex phenomenon of listening is what is really going as a listener: We listen through a myriad of filters based on our past experiences, sense of identity and beliefs, from there we are listening to see if we agree or not, or we are preparing our rebuttal or just spacing out and thinking about how this person or conversation reminds us of someone or something from the past. It’s no wonder that there is so much alienation, divisiveness and separation in the world...
When we understand that our past is always influencing and shaping how and what we hear, we have an opportunity to become an active co-creator in generating a non-violent way of listening, connecting and communicating. Instead of just passively “listening to” what the other is saying we can begin to influence the conversation by proactively generating an active non-violent listening filter to how we listen. How do we do that? We generate in our selves an active “listening for” love, compassion, understanding, aliveness and common commitments! Can we listen with the intention of relieving suffering in the speakers heart? Can we listen from a place of loving awareness?
I want to appreciate you without judging. Join you
I recently had a friend, who I love very deeply, refuse to communicate or clean up any miscommunications with me, leaving me wondering what it could be that was causing this person to be so angry with me. From my perspective I did nothing but love, support and honor them in every interaction, and yet in spite of many attempts to connect and understand I was met with hostile, evasive and closed door responses. My first response was to be angry, I wanted to retaliate, felt victimized, misunderstood and abused. Then I remembered a line from one of my favorite songs, “It’s all love or a calling for love.” Even if this is not true it is in the best interest of everyone to hold this way of listening, because I know that what I see in other says more about me than them. To understand the actions of another is to better understand ourselves... So I try to listen for understanding, which is a non-violent approach to listening. And in reality aren’t all of our actions somehow rooted in the longing to love and be loved?
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to
an understanding of ourselves.
It is my longing to be loved, appreciated and seen that generates irritation in me when another doesn’t respond as I think they should. How often do I trade truth for my longing to be loved and seen? Can I continue to love another who has judged me, slandered me, shut me out and refused to even try to work things out? Of course I can! In fact that is when it is most challenging and important to generate a listening for love and understanding. It’s easy to love when it is reciprocated. Whatever is causing the other person so much pain that they cannot even face you is a call for love. This is a person that is in pain and needs to be met with love, even if they are unable to receive that love at this time! This act of loving means that there is more love in the world -- instead of feeding the myth of separation we become generators of love... This expands to loving our enemies and those whose beliefs do not match ours. How else will we ever have peace on the planet?
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence, but also internal
violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
I was appalled by the outpouring of gleeful celebration and revenge that erupted with the killing of Osama bin Laden. Regardless of what anyone has done, murder is not the answer, revenge is not the answer. It only leads to more murder and revenge. What led him to act as he did? Why is he considered a freedom fighter to so many people in the world? How have our government’s policies and actions led so many people around the world to hate us? How many innocent children, women and men have lost their lives in this conflict? These are the kinds of questions we need to be asking ourselves… Not celebrating violence! This can only bring more separation, more hatred and more violence.
I want to invite you all to participate in a program that my Conversations co-host Stephanie VanHook and the good people at The Metta Center for Non Violence (www.mettacenter.org) are rolling out this month. It is called Love Your Enemy: A Campaign to reclaim Human Dignity Through Nonviolence. Please read the letter following this to find out more. It is an opportunity to practice Non-Violent Listening in our own lives and empower us all to live in a safer, saner and more compassionate world... We can go beyond the illusion of separation and divisiveness and create a world that works for all life. It starts with us, right here and right now. I hope you will join me in this life altering practice of Non-Violent listening...
With Love and Blessings,
We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.