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Listening in

What do you do for a living?
Why? So you can pretend like you’re interested?

– the movie, ‘fightclub’

I am walking downhill on this beautiful Sarahan road and come across a Gompa, a Buddhist monastery. As I walk in, the door is open and the room inside is perfectly silent; encompassed by a fragrant incense. The water bowls are neatly lined up as an offering to the Perfect One -Gautama Adi, the Buddha.

I look into his eyes and feel his deep love. I pay silent homage to his offering to the world- unbounded kindness for all living and non-living beings. I feel a little something in my heart thinking all he had done for so many. A little tear rises from my heart and waves into my eyes, as I swallow a gulp in gratitude. I see one monk sitting on the left in the large empty hall. He is getting ready to chant. I went close, took a deep bow and sat down in the hall to meditate.

Neither of us feels the need to exchange words — greetings, names or intentions. I sit on the hard floor, close my eyes and he starts to chant. After some time, he starts to sob really hard in between his chanting. He cries really hard for about twenty seconds, and then resuming his chanting with an even fine breath with renewed intensity. I lose my mindfulness and feel a sharp twitch in my heart. The tear of compassion that I had felt earlier- erupts into a tsunami—rising with forceful vigour. I realize myself starting to mirror his emotions, although- unsure of what I was mirroring. In split seconds, my mind interjects and I immediately start to guess the reasons for his outburst. Did I do something to make him cry? Was he in some sort of personal grief? Did he read something in the scriptures that moved him so much? Should I get up and offer him water? I quickly discerned that finding out the reason for his outburst would definitely satisfy my curious mind, but might not do much in listening to his heart in the present. Without words, we are already talking and feeling.

I am listening in with care, but without projecting the cravings of my intellect.  I switch my meditation from watching my breath to actively sending out waves of love for him. I sit for, which seems to be a very long time, as he is still chanting. I realize he had stopped sobbing somewhere along the way. I get ready to stand up and leave. My western courteous mind tells me to go out and bid him farewell, but my heart tells me that was unnecessary to exchange words with someone who I already had a profound connection with. The foundation of our communication is compassion and is beyond logic and outside the scope of formal exchanges. One that is empty of labels, and full of love. On the walk back, I feel incredible joy. I am thankful for being given a human life and such a wonderful faculty of listening- the capacity to tune into someone’s heart, without exchanging words. I am grateful for the astounding gift of listening—listening without judgement, the capability to share feelings, and to be present- without seeking to logically understand fellow human beings.

I wondered about how other people’s happiness invited tears of joy in me and how their sadness left sadness in me. I went from chattering to listening when I asked my mind to take a break from the driver’s seat and handed over matters of the heart–to the heart.


2 thoughts on “Listening in

  1. I certainly understand you being moved by the experience.
    Compassion and love are traits to be cherished and nurtured. And Buddha’s doctrine advocates both. But am a little curious as a certain disconnect is evident. I remember you expostulating on maintaining equanimity at all times (in Peo, remember ? when I started nodding off at the end 🙂 ). Obviously, material desires are to be quelled. But I came across this in the Gita:


    So maintaining equanimity in the face of _anything_ is the True Path. Or that’s the conclusion I came to. 🙂

  2. Good point.

    There is a polar opposite difference between feeling love or compassion versus experiencing a negative emotion (like anger, fear etc)—which is bound to disturb the equanimity of the mind.

    The capacity to feel deep compassion and love, the capacity to love all more than yourself helps dissolve the ego. The ego is a great barrier to realizing equanimity. Thoughts have this affinity to attach themselves to the ‘I’ or the ego and thus distrurbing your equanimity. The less you identify with the ‘I’ the greater the equanimity 🙂

    Words from the Gita or Buddha are merely pointers to phenomena. To realize these things and sort these things out, one has to do rigorous self-enquiry via meditation. See if you can read this book called the ‘way of zen’ by alan watts. It worked for me.

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