Summary Episode 5: Grinding and polishing away all the detritus and negative karma: using people around us especially those who point out your shortcomings (messengers) in daily life; marooned in visual dimension oblivious to many others – powerless, you think. Your inner gem: applying abrasion, putting the tarnished gem to the grinding wheel. Clearing away the tight grip of conditioning, culture and family so that you can uncover your True Nature but still carry on in social life. Listening to the universe and all around us. Detachment.
Modern developed societies have largely forgotten how to listen. Instead, they are besieged by an endless inner dialogue created by multiple voices from mass conditioning and mass media. Added to this is the obsession with wearing earphones to listen to something of their choice so that external interferences and influences can be blotted out.
As we go about our daily life, we can observe people listening to something other than reality most of the time. It is very difficult to wake them up or make contact. In fact, there is so much radiation emanating from societies across the globe constantly echoed by mass media that we are inundated, and that may be the reason that so many people retreat into bland pop culture or broadcasters’ egocentric prattle seeking a ‘mindless’ distraction – over-stimulation.
Today, looking and visual consumerism have taken the place of sincere listening almost completely. The allure of visual images grips modern developed peoples because they are instantaneously gratifying: images haunt, are considered to be worth a thousand words, and beg to be acquired. The sparkle of a gem on a wedding finger, the designer emblem on an accessory, the message shouting from a fashionable t-shirt, a shopping mall beckoning with its million choices, hundreds of TV channels……not many people can resist such fancies. Disturbingly, most of us think this is reality.
The visual field is most certainly not where we can connect with our True Nature because it is external, and it is eminently measurable, calculable, judgeable, subject to a million conditions and whims of ‘the mind’ – that dead, limited repository of thousands of years of knowledge, culture, conditioning and socialization. All of the above are abstract and therefore interpretable. If we examine closely, we can see that Mind can only supply the known: it is apprehensive of the unknown. Our True Nature flourishes beyond what is known.
The consciousness or greater awareness, on the other hand, is concrete because it is composed of energy, and it is well-known that energy is impossible to destroy. In fact, the energy of sound is concrete and not up for interpretation. It touches us directly and we embrace it or reject it according to the condition of our own energy. This is the main way into our True Nature.
Indian philosophy says there are 3 dimensions of listening: the first, is intellectual, listening with reason so we are always ready to either attack (criticize) or embrace (accept); the second, is through the heart and feelings – emotional listening if you will – no analysis is needed, and no analysis of sound is actually possible because it is whole, total, flowing, so it is impossible to be an observer – we have to participate, to make a relationship; and third, existential or through our being – body, mind and spirit – and the unknown, so we must trust or have faith because it is impossible to make a relationship with what we are hearing.
The first two are partial listening, but the third is total and demands a surrender, a dissolving of all dualities. We become one with what we are listening to: there is no ‘me’ or ‘self’ engaged in an act. If we listen with reason there is conflict. If we listen with emotions there is sympathy and vulnerability. But with total deep listening, there is no duality, only an amalgamation. This is our True Nature. And so music and sound are known for their qualities of healing.
The greater awareness out in the boundless field of consciousness is where we can learn to listen and look without any separation, without interrupting or interfering with our natural disposition. But it is the mind that we can use as a potential bridge to walk out into that field. However, the mind must be integrated with consciousness to create such a walkway and this is only possible through sincere meditation and reflection. So, contacting our True Nature entails clearing away many obstacles and clutter from that bridge so that it is possible to move.
The way in which we listen to the world and consciousness will help to clear away the detritus concealing our inner diamond, our True Nature. By closing down the dominant visual sense and avoiding over-stimulation, we can gradually move from the outside to the inside which is the universe, reality. Listening is a way of centering, sound being attracted to our core or not, to our essence or not, to the nucleus of our personal energy or not.
To get a glimpse of our True Nature, we can experiment with listening. Maybe we are listening to contrived music, or natural sounds, or even to the voice of someone close to us talking. But if we remain aware, we can check what the mind does. It may be tempted to criticize or to have the last word – this is intellectual. Or it may well up with emotion – anger or passion – this is emotional. But both of these modes of listening separate us into the receiver and the transmitter. When we listen existentially, we become one with the sound and the ‘I’ or ‘me’ vanishes: we are neither spectator nor participant. This is non-duality at its best. And this gives us a glimpse of our True Nature and the way we are integrated into the Universe.
Next, Episode 7 the impermanent and desirelessness. These two fundamentals of spiritual training sharply awaken us to the reality that our bodies and all matter are perishable, another truth which enables our True Nature to come into play. However, most of us are firmly attached to such delusions basically because we are afraid of death, another unknown. And if we are afraid of dying fully, we are afraid of living fully.
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