On social media there are all sorts of little phrases and saying and most are so anodyne and even saccharine, or blatantly obvious and hackneyed that most of the time I’m almost blind to them. However, occasionally one pops up, and it may very well be blatantly obvious and hackneyed but it lodges in your mind and you being to see or understand different aspects of it. It may superficially remain a truism, but it might still be true – and meaningful
The quieter you become, the more you hear…
This is a phrase from Ram Dass the American spiritual teacher. It triggered many thoughts in me, including memories – memories of being very young and walking through a wood probably with my parents. I was told to be really quiet so i could hear the birds and the animals – ‘cock your ears! someone said and I had a very physical sensation – probably imaginary, of my little ears actually stiffening to attention and opening to catch every little chirp and rustle.
I grew up in the era of TV cowboys and Indians as they were then called. I was always an Indian, and I’d read in one of my adventure books that they could walk through a forest and make not a sound and leave not a trace, and I used to practice trying to do that – what an odd child I was! I can almost see myself creeping along, ears cocked trying to be as quiet as i could and listen as hard as was possible.
Having lived a busy working life full of noise, music, city sounds I’d never really thought about silence and being silence. I guess the nearest was when it was exam time – for me as a student and then for my students, sitting in silent classrooms and halls concentrating as hard as possible and trying to conjure some answers from the questions on the exam paper.
It’s not just being quiet so other people can give their opinions and have their say, nor being quiet to listen to some particular noise, music for example. It’s being quiet just to listen.
The first time I can remember experience quietness and listening was when I was doing Tai Chi many years ago. At the end of the practice we had to lie down with our eyes shut and just be quiet but have our senses tuned to properly be aware of what we could feel, smell and hear. Since then I’ve experienced other similar practices and tried to find that quiet… and the most difficult part is not being silent but quietening my mind. One of my Buddhist teachers called it a monkey mind, and that’s just what it’s like – no quiet in my active – maybe over-active mind!
Seeing that little phrase, the quieter you become, the more you hear… has reminded me that I do need to make time to find that quiet, and to remind myself what I hear.