• The act of hearing attentively
  • Hear with intention
  • Listen and pay attention
  • Pay close attention to; give heed to

Listening is different from hearing (perceive (sound) via the auditory sense). Hearing is just as passive bodily function whereas listening is active, or should be. When we listen to a lecture, on a subject we are actually interested in we give our full attention to the topic. We are actively involved in the subject. We take in everything that has been said and process it carefully.

That’s all very well when we’re talking about a subject that is of interest to us, like learning a language so we can travel, or gaining a new skill for our job, but what if we are talking about a subject that is important, but one which you have no real interest in?
You see, we listen when it affects us personally, when the topic being discussed is related to “me.” My education. My job. My family, My security. My home. My pension. My holiday. My future. My children’s future. If it’s me your talking about, then I’m interested. How can this benefit me? I’m listening! But the world isn’t just about you it’s about me and you. It’s about six billion people living on a small planet, somewhere in a place called space (the unlimited expanse in which everything is located)

But everything has to start with me, doesn’t it? Even changing the world! It’s no one else’s responsibility, is it? Oh yes, I forgot, actually it is someone else’s responsibility – anyone who likes, because I’m too busy doing the “me” stuff.
Ok, I’m sorry, I’m not being fair to you, but what I’m trying to understand is whether we only listen to things we’re interested in, which to be fair, probably doesn’t include saving the planet, and everyone who lives here.

Most people, including me, have to survive. We have to go to work to pay our bills, our credit cards, our car loans, our mortgage or rent and we have to eat. We work hard and long, and we are stressed by the end of the day. We are tired, and the last thing we want to be thinking about is someone else suffering in a faraway country, someone we will never meet.

“Benevolence is a hobby for the rich” you shout! “I don’t have time to concern myself with saving the planet, it’s hard enough getting by on my own without worrying about someone starving in africa, why doesn’t their government look after them?”

And I would agree with you to some extent. Your responsibilities are primarily to your family and to your kinship group, and you must look after yourself before you can help other people.

Who will listen to me? Who will read this book? Will they listen to what I have to say? Do they care? Is it important enough to those who read this book to actively listen, or will they put it down because the subject matter doesn’t interest them?

And this is the great problem. If you have paid money for this book, it means you actively sought it out because you were interested in the subject matter. If you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t spend your hard earned money on it. It’s as simple as that.

Can I ask you a question? How do you get people to listen to you, if they don’t think what you are talking about is interesting? When I started writing this book, I realised that, potentially, the only people who may listen, were those who were already interested in people, the mind and the planet. If you just go to work every day, don’t give a damn about anyone else but yourself, and go through life using everything and everyone just for your own benefit, why would you buy a book like this? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Do you think politicians will read this? How about murderers, rapists, warlords, army generals, hooligans, drunks, drug addicts, fast food corporation directors, people who drop litter, shopaholics, criminals, supermarket shoppers and bosses, car drivers, or even fried chicken lovers. This book is not for these people! They wouldn’t buy it, or read it, and even if they did, they may put it down rather quickly, because this is not a book about something they’re interested in; it’s a book which asks them to look at themselves. It’s a book which questions the “me” and asks: “How do I affect the other people in the world by my actions?” and they may start to feel that they need to change something about themselves.

I am convinced that if you buy this book, you are already open to change, and that is such a pity, because the people who should read this, aren’t interested. But I cannot force them to read this book, anymore than I can force anyone to do anything.

If I force you to listen to me. Are you really listening, or are you merely hearing?

The only time people listen to things they aren’t interested in, is when it affects them personally. You can talk all you like about war, climate change, compassion, and love, but it’s only when a bomb explodes, or a tidal wave destroys a city, or a member of their family is murdered, that people take notice. It takes something cataclysmic to invoke the desire to listen, the desire to change. This doesn’t mean that the people will suddenly try to understand everyone else, and get to the heart of the problem, it may only strengthen their resolve; as In the following example.

A bomb was detonated in the london underground a couple years ago, by supposedly muslim suicide bombers. Scores of people died and were injured in the blasts.

Do the government and the people decide that they must try to find out what would cause a human being to blow themselves up, and kill other innocent human beings? No. They invoke even greater security measures, everyone is afraid of anyone from a muslim country, and the police are given greater powers of arrest; thereby creating more tension, more fear, and more hatred of people who look and dress differently to themselves.

So yes people did listen, but they listened to the government spokesmen, the media, and anyone else who had a negative opinion of “muslims.” They didn’t want you to explore it for yourselves, they presented the “facts” in the knowledge that everyone is afraid of life, and offered a solution to protect you.

What I am trying to uncover here, is that actively listening does not mean believing. I want you to listen to what I am saying, but I don’t want you to blindly believe it. I want you to explore it for yourself, not in the way a government presents evidence, and then says “make up your own mind,” but to explore every topic with an underlying feeling of love and compassion for everyone, and everything on the planet. Only then can you find out the truth of it all.

Listen passionately by all means, but then test it against the principle of compassion, and you will soon see if what is being said (by anybody) meets this requirement. You will not just be able to make up your mind, but you will see the real truth behind what is being said, whether it is you, your president, your media, your friend, or your teacher speaking. If there is no compassion in what is being said, then you will know it can never be the truth.

Listen with compassion
Explore with compassion
Understand with compassion
Act with compassion

By alan macmillan orr

´the natural mind – waking up



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