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How Do I Listen?

Several year ago, I watched a PBS show about a branch of neuroscience called Contemplative Mindfulness. Rudolph Tanzi is central in this work which grew out of research by Richard Davidson, Ellen Langer, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Mindful practices have been with us for centuries and informed Jesus’, the Buddha’s and Mohammed’s teachings. Mindful listening begins with me listening to the other, moves outward, and is eloquently described by Hafiz, a Sufi poet. Mindful listening requires humility those teachers emulated in lived practice as the servant as leader.

In a world that seems filled with ego and narcissim, listening to the other is essential to healing the world and each human. I am re-reading Ivan Illich and authors who use his work. His best known book is Deschooling Society, which was originally titled The Dawn of Epimethean Man and Other Essays. The title was changed by the publisher, something Illich regretted later.

Illich was a priest and his writing, including about education, was informed by The Parable of the Good Samaritan. His understanding was we do not get to choose who are neighbours are. Instead, others we encounter depend on us to listen and demonstrate compassion, dropping our ego in the process. It also fits with Epimetheus who was more comfortable with uncertainty than his more famous sibling, Prometheus.

Encountering the stranger as neighbour comes both with reward and risk. The words hospitality and hostile are linked etymologically.

How

Do I

Listen to others?

As if everyone were my Master

Speaking to me

His

Cherished

Last

Words.

Here is a Mary Oliver reading I Happened To Be Standing and an inteview with her. You have to wait until the end to get to the listening aspect. Being mindful weaves its way through the poem.

A Shining Lamp

A Shining Lamp.

When we live in right ways, we are shining lamps for the world and others in the world. Being compassionate allows us to reach past our ignorance and support those in need, sentient and non-sentient, in the moment.

This theme of being a shining lamp crosses cultural and religious boundaries. Jesus referred to lighting a lamp and not hiding it. When we live a life revealing who we are touching the world in compassionate ways, we bring others into the light. Being aware and present in the world allows us to feel world’s needs. We become one in those needs sharing with all phenomena in new ways. Our ignorance falls away pushing past human imposed boundaries between each other.

 

The Donkey

I was not sure I would post tonight, but as I read comments left on don’t worry, be happy I came across one from Valerie. Valerie suggested a poem by G. K. Chesterton. We regard the donkey as a beast of burden, but it serves a literal and figurative purpose in the Christian world and perhaps beyond.

Literally, the donkey, that simple beast of burden, carried Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This simple animal symbolically in the Middle East of Jesus’ time was an animal of peace. Today, figuratively we recall Jesus used this beast of burden as his mode of transport elevating it.

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
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