One of my favorite quotes about listening comes from J. Krishnamurti who said,
“If you are listening to find out, then your mind is free, not committed to anything; it is very acute, sharp, alive, inquiring, curious, and therefore capable of discovery.”
What is the trickiest bit about that sentence?
The first word: “If”.
Because we rarely listen to find out.
Instead, we listen with half our mind elsewhere, or to see if we agree, or so we can offer our own experience once the other person has finished speaking.
What else make the above quote so interesting?
The idea of listening to discover something.
Because very few of us ask the above question (Ahem: “Why?”) from a place of genuine inquiry.
Instead, we ask “Why?” to gather information that supports our existing theory, idea or perception.
But what if we changed that? And, more importantly, HOW can we change that?
Simply, but not easily.
There is a Sanskrit word, “Pranavah” that denotes a category of special words: ones that have fresh meaning each time you say them. (What’s an example? “Hallelujah”)
I’m utterly enamored of this idea.
So enamored that I began thinking of other words and/or phrases that—with a bit of mindfulness—might also be included.
“Why?” was one such example.
Imagine asking “Why?” as if you were asking it for the first time: without a preconceived idea of the ‘correct’ response.
Then listen, listen, listen.
I think you will be surprised by what you discover.
(What other phrases do I recommend saying as if you’ve never said them before? “Thank you” and “I love you” both come to mind…)
Krishnamurti pops up a lot around here. If you’re interested, take a look at, “To Know is to Be Ignorant” and/or “The Problem, If You Love It, Is as Beautiful as the Sunset”