Blessings to All.
Meditation: My the Light of the One God of All Fill Our Hearts and Minds,
May the Holy Spirit of Peace and Truth Be With Us, May Love Be in Our Hearts
and Compassion Be Ours and Guide Us Throughout the New Year.

I was recently reading Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Really Growing Up by Norman Fischer. He writes about what it really means to listen and I found I wanted to share his words with you as I think listening is fundamental to affecting world change... What if we or the UN for example consciously adopted this approach? Some of us try to, but we so often fall short, me included ... Love Jessika

by Norman Fischer

"Listening with full presence, and with as few preconceptions, notion, or desires as possible, to what was said and to what was not said ....

"Listening is magic: it turns a person from an object outside, opaque or dimly threatening, into an intimate experience, and therefore into a friend. In this way, listening softens and transforms the listener.

Listening is basic and crucial because it is the soil out of which all the fruits of our human relationships grow. Listening takes radical openness to another, and radical openness requires surrender. This is why listening is frightening, although we don't usually think of it that way. It requires a fearless self-confidence that most of us have never developed.

Self-confidence isn't egotism. Egotism is being stuck on yourself, insisting perhaps quite unconsciously, on seeing everything through the lens of you own interests, your own intelligence, and your own views, capacities and opinions. With too much egotism, listening is impossible. True self-confidence is different; it isn't confidence in your own superficial self, in your cover story, your views, capabilities, and resume. It is, on the contrary, the willingness to suspend all of that for a while, in favor of faith in yourself that goes beyond the surface of who you are. When you are truly self confident, you are flexible with regard to ego: you can pick up ego when necessary, but you can also put it down when necessary in order to learn something new through listening. And if you find you can't put ego down, at least you know this is so. You can admit it to yourself. It takes profound self-confidence to be humble enough to recognize your own limitations without self blame. If you can do that, very soon you will be able to listen.

The next time you are in a conversation pay attention to your listening. Don't go on automatic pilot. Instead, reflect on what is actually going on. Chances are you will notice that more often than not, when another person is talking you are not listening. You may be more or less hearing what the other person is saying, getting the general drift, but you are also probably also preparing or anticipating the remark you will soon be making in rejection of or agreement with what you are hearing. Maybe you interrupt, maybe you lose attention or think about something else, or maybe, or maybe your mind wanders gently off to no place in particular. Daydreaming is a habit so unconscious that it is much more prevalent than any of us realize. Since you are so often not actually listening but rather are absorbed in your own mental habits, you are probably missing out on something, some piece of information, some discovery about yourself or the other person or the world, some news.

What's usually in our minds isn't really news. It's the residue of what we've learned, or hoped for, or feared, or been hurt by. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are almost always strategizing when we engage in conversation with others—trying to find the advantage to protect ourselves from something foreign or unknown. We aren't listening at all. If we want to survive with some happiness, however, in this world of difference—a world in which we are constantly confronted with one utterly different and unknown person after another (even those we know and live with for many years are sometimes utterly unknown to us)—we had better study the art of listening.

To truly listen is to shed, as much as possible, all of your protective mechanisms, at least at the time of listening. To listen is to be willing to simply be present with what you hear without trying to figure out or control it. Too listen is to be radically receptive to what occurs. To do that, you have to be honest with yourself. You have to be aware of and accepting of your preconceptions, desires, and delusions— all that prevents you from listening. But you also have to be willing to put these preconceptions, desires, and delusions aside so that you can hear what the speaker is saying for what it is. Because truly listening requires that you do this, listening is dangerous. It might cause you to hear something that you don't like, to consider its validity, and therefore to think something you have never thought before, and perhaps never wanted to feel. This feeling might make something happen within you that never happened before. This is the risk of listening, and this is why it is automatic for us not to want to listen...

Listening requires beginner's mind...."

Taking Our Places : The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up

by Norman Fischer
(excerpt posted without permission -hopefully he won't mind) p.42-43.

Norman Fischer is a Zen priest, teacher, poet, former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, and founder of The Everyday Zen Foundation
, an organization created to broaden the reach of engaged Buddhist practice. Norman Fischer leads retreats and workshops across the country and in Canada and Mexico. He is the author of Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms, and has published several books of poetry. In addition to giving Zen lectures and retreats, he leads Jewish meditation classes and is also actively involved in interfaith dialogue.

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