"It is better to be interested than interesting."
I've been chatting to Ronnie Apteker by email for the past few weeks, and a couple of gems have risen to the surface. What’s been twirling around my head though is the advice that guides him, something that a wise mentor said to him that speaks to hearing the world.
It the quote about being interested and listening. Deep listening. Being so absorbed by what the other person is saying that you depart your own shore and travel into their story.
I have been thinking a lot about listening today and whether we listen enough or whether we listen in the right way, and what happens when we start to listen deeply.
As a journalist it is part of my job to listen. More so, to listen to what is said and not said – to listen beyond the speaking. Then as a parent so much of what I do is to listen. What I have found is that the way in which I listen changes the relationship I have with my world, and the people in it. Deep listening opens doors. It enables me to walk far into the story of the other. Whether that's my son, step-daughter, husband, a person I am interviewing or a stranger I am talking to.
We're all busy people so there are times when you have conversations that are drowned out by your own 'self talk'. The laundry list of things you need to do, the books you are reading, the response you are formulating in your head and so it goes on. Then the ego is a big mitigation against listening. Of course our egos are dynamic – up and down – growing and receding like the swells of a tide. When the ego is high then often meaningful listening gets drowned out by your own self-talk or sense of your own importance. When this happens listening becomes even more difficult, or at time impossible.
Fortunately life is a great leveler and the school of hard knocks helps to control the ego together with other practices like meditation, service and of course deep listening.
The amazing thing about surrendering the self to listening is that it creates a crucible in which you are changed and can be changed. But rather than reading what I have to say, listen deeply to what Pauline Oliveros has to say about the subject.
A composer, humanitarian and pioneer in the field of sound, Oliveros says that listening can be quantum:
"Deep Listening is listening in every possible way
to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense
listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, or one's own thoughts
as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening represents a heightened state of
awareness and connects to all that there is. As a composer I make my music
through Deep Listening.
Deep Listening is active. What is heard is changed by listening and changes the listener I call this the 'listening effect' or how we process what we hear. Two modes of listening are available - focal and global. When both modes are utilized and balanced there is connection with all that there is. Focal listening garners detail from any sound and global listening brings expansion through the whole field of sound.
Listening shapes culture locally and universally. Listening is directing attention to what is heard, gathering meaning, interpreting and deciding on action. Quantum listening is listening to more than one reality simultaneously. Listening for the least differences possible to perceive - perception at the edge of the new. Jumping like an atom out of orbit to a new orbit - creating a new orbit - as an atom occupies both spaces at once one listens in both places at once. Mothers do this. One focuses to a point and changes that point by listening.
Quantum Listening is listening in as many ways as possible simultaneously - changing and being changed by the listening. I see and hear life as a grand improvisation - I stay open to the world of possibilities for interplay in the quantum field with self and others - community - society - the world - the universe and beyond.
Our improvisations will soon include accelerated artificial evolution - hybrid humans - new beings born of technology - new challenges, consequences, dangers, freedoms and responsibilities - all of this in addition to the life we lead through the habits of our own traditions.
How will we meet the genius of more rapidly evolving interactive cultures? - A genius of culture that could give us freedom of perception, physical and mental limitations. Will we stop the evolution with destruction and annihilation or embrace it courageously to go forward into the new world we are creating with all its edges?"
Read the full article by Oliveros here.