An acquaintance of mine remarked that he had noticed something about himself: He used to have a lot of conversations in which he was trying to “fix” the other person. They were talking, he was listening, but all the time his mind was working, working, working on how to fix their problems, give them advice, tell them what to do. That was his idea of a conversation.
Now, he said, he just listens. He tries hard to really understand what they are trying to communicate. Maybe he asks them to explain or clarify. Maybe he repeats back what he thought he heard, and then asks if that is what they meant. But he’s trying not to do anything else except listen.
The difference is quite remarkable.
Later I recalled some things I have been taught, such as there are no thoughts, there is no thinker — there is only thinking. That makes no sense at all to me. I can’t fathom it. It makes me feel like a tiny grasshopper with a very long way to travel still.
But when I considered that act of listening as if there were nothing but the listening — the hearing alone is all — I had a little short moment of aaahhh … He isn’t there. Only the action, the act, the listening.