“Those who love may listen; but it is extremely rare to find a listener. Most of us are after results, achieving goals; we are forever overcoming and conquering, and so there is no listening. It is only in listening that one hears the song of the words.”
Yesterday I was at Goat Rock Beach in California, a rocky beach, and each wave threw pebbles around my feet. As each wave washed back out, running around the pebbles and carrying them, it made a sound like a huge rainstick—a washing sound, a whooshing sound, and inside all the rocks clicking together. I lay down for a little while and listened. This morning around six, a dog barking. I didn’t particularly think, hurray, a dog barking, but there was something itself in the barking, something full and real in the wash of the sounds. Something lovely.
I think I disagree with Krishnamurti. I think there are listeners everywhere. I think there are lots of ways of being a listener, and if you look for someone who listens like you do, all the time, you probably won’t find one. Listening can mix in with everything. And I love the idea that listening can come from loving. I find it really useful to think about my bustling habit of “overcoming and conquering” as something that precludes listening. So this morning, at eight am, I’m listening to the memory of the ocean and the barking. I’m listening to the traffic outside and the teapot warming. I’m glad for the chance to sit with this. I don’t mean that I’m listening to the “meaning” of these sounds—sometimes it’s nice to think, ah, yes, that vroom of an engine is someone going somewhere, and I hope they’re well. I’m listening to the sounds. The teapot’s getting louder. Water starting to shake inside. My arm brushes against the chair. And that’s not quite what I mean, either. I mean listen. A bubbling. A rustling. A brushing. A breathing.