Saturday, October 25, 2014

Listening To The Universe

A previous blog posting (“Thinking Versus Listening,” October 9, 2014) focused on the subtle but significant difference between “thinking” with our mind versus “listening” to that inner voice that exists within each of us.  Once we are skilled at listening to that inner Self, we then open ourselves to listening on a much broader scope.  Listening to God and all of the Universe.

In whatever form we choose to envision and name that greater Spirit, the God/Universe that surrounds us “speaks” to all of us often.  In re-action to our requests and calls to the Universe; in pro-action to help guide us to our greater purpose and benefit – even when we may not realize we need such guidance.  Yet there are many who believe God talks to no one, that those who claim such communication are at best delusional, at worst self-indulgent frauds.  And they can be quite vocal in their condemnation and disdain towards such claims.

For those who confidently accept that the Universe speaks to them, the vehicle(s) for such communication can come through different sources.  Some “hear” the words directly in their thoughts, but as a separate and distinguishable “voice.”  That voice may be sensed as from God, from one’s own “guides” or angels, or from known family or associates that have previously passed on.  For some, the words come through the hand, dictated into written form.  Alternately, the words may come through other people, perhaps in a formal “channeling” style of speech.  Or perhaps just a simple sentence or two someone says in seemingly normal conversation.  In those instances, there is just something about the essence of the words, said in that particular moment, that forcefully grabs our attention.  Somehow we just know something important was said, so we listen closely, interpret carefully, and act accordingly.

God speaks to us in the medium, language and style that are unique to us.  Not in some ancient biblical-speak or divine-speak, or in some Hollywood imagined-speak, but in the everyday conversation that is natural to us.  It is all customized to each of us individually.  At times that may cause us doubt its authenticity, or wonder if we are having an imagined conversation with our own Self, and so we are required to learn to distinguish carefully between the two.  But all great spiritual teachers speak in the language of their listeners, and so does God.  God does not speak Hebrew to an Argentinian; God speaks in Spanish.

Absent the spoken/written word, the Universe draws on every imaginable method and opportunity to communicate with us.  Life events; our successes and failures; people moving in and out of our life journey; events of nature.  These forms of communication are subtle and can be easily skipped over.  They require us to “listen” with sensitive eyes/ears/mind, but they are equally valid and powerful aspects of “divine speech.”  They require us to sharpen our instinct of recognition, be constantly alert for such messages, and recognize the patterns of synchronicity that occur in our life.  Things truly do happen for a reason.

To hear God, we must be willing.  Not just desirous, but truly open and willing.  Willing to hear no matter what the message may be.  Because it will often be a message that we do not really want to hear in that moment.  God tells us What we need to hear, When we need to hear it, in the dosage we are able to absorb.  The long-term goals and outcomes may or may not be made clear, but the steps and timing to get there are typically maddingly vague.

There are also times when the conversation ends, for however varyingly long a period.  The Universe does not speak when there is nothing new to say, or when there would only be repetition of what we have already chosen to reject, or when the time for new conversation has not yet arrived.  Or we may hear silence when we are being called upon to make our own decisions and chart our own course in order to demonstrate and experience what we have spiritually learned to date.  God is a guide leading us to our fully realized self, not a dictator specifying exactly what we are to do.

Ultimately, we have to believe we can have a dialog with the Universe in order to actually have such a dialog.  If we do not believe this is possible, then we will only hear the silence we expected in the first place.  God is always having a one-sided chat with us through some forum or media.  The only question is whether we choose to hear and participate in our half of the conversation.  If we do so choose, we open ourselves to an unending wealth of spiritual conversation and connection with a Universe far beyond our daily knowing.

©  2014   by Randy Bell           

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thinking Versus Listening

“I think, therefore I am.”  (Rene Descartes, philosopher)  It is the classic Western statement about where the Self resides.

It is in the mind that the concept of “I” exists.  At least for most of us, most of the time.  In the mind is where we believe resides the essence of “me” – my memories, imaginings, and beliefs.  It is the storehouse for my accumulated facts, knowledge, and the conclusions that I have drawn.  It is where I “control” my life – my decisions, logic, moral code, ambitions.  From these, my mind then triggers my actions.

To exercise that mind, we “think.”  We “talk” in the quiet of our minds, walking through a story or a lecture to ourselves.  It is a very active and engaged action.  The sense of “I” is present throughout this thinking process; the word “I” itself is often heard.  “I” am very much in control.  Or so we think.

But this form of “thinking” is typically a self-fulfilling, gratuitous activity.  Often, we unwittingly lead ourselves though rationalization to where we had already decided to go.  We edit our personal stories as we choose to remember them.  Many of our beliefs are in fact cloned from the beliefs of various authority figures we have encountered along the way.  We think we are making our own decisions, and believe we are doing something “new.”  Yet we remain decidedly a creature of habit, repeating thoughts and actions in an endless repetition.  We change the surrounding scenery on the stage of our own personal drama; our plot remains unchanged.  We think we are in control of our minds; in reality we are more often the captive of our mind acting on its own.

Knowing this, in our spiritual pursuit we acknowledge the reality of our subservience to the mind instead of our illusionary domination.  And in that recognition itself, we begin our first steps in reasserting the true “I” that we really are.

“If we don’t know who we are, we will never know how to live.”  (Rev. Billy Graham)

We do this by setting aside “thinking” – the proactive activity.  We give up creating thoughts.  In its place, we learn the skillful art of listening to our mind.  We separate ourselves from thinking and become the passive observer of what the mind thinks, a listener to the thoughts we already have.  We picture ourselves as a separate but good friend of our mind.  We listen – as we would with a dear friend – as our mind speaks to us.

As a good listener, we hear our friend’s thoughts and offer no commentary.  We make no judgments about what we hear; all thoughts are acceptable in that moment.  We do not rush our friend’s words; we wait patiently for the next thought to come in its own good time, when it is  ready.  We ask timely and pertinent questions only to obtain clarity for a better understanding – to benefit both our self and our friend.  We offer opinions only when asked, and never try to impose our will or perspective on our friend.  We do not put our own words into our friend’s thoughts.  We do not write and tell our own story; we hear the story that is unfolding before us.  We understand that we are simply an audience of one, facilitating our friend’s desire to be heard.

And what do we then hear?  Maybe a single word.  Perhaps a short phrase.  On a rare occasion, a complete sentence.  Those small fragments open a window of insight to us, a window to which we will patiently but continually return as that view continues to wondrously expand and illuminate.

It takes a lot of work and practice to know how to listen to your Self.  But when we stop to truly LISTEN to our mind, we stop creating more thoughts, more add-ons to the “I” we are constantly creating.  Instead, we get to know the “I” that is already there.  No additional layers are needed.  No new illusions need to be tacked on to my “I.”

It is in talking that we do.  But it is in listening that we learn, understand.  The “I” that is created from one non-stop thought after another is an I that never really grows, never really changes, never finds its own destiny.  The “I” that evolves from informed listening is the knowledgeable I, fully aware of his/her true being.  And that being, freed from the dominating confines of its thoughts, becomes now free to be “thine own true self.”  The soul.

A good friend, who is a deep listener with no personal agenda other than your own, is a friend to treasure.  Can we be such a friend to our Self?

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”  (Ram Dass)

© 2014 by Randy Bell