“When I (Osho) became a professor, this was my first thing…. Every year for one month I was not teaching anything. For the first month those who wanted to participate in my classes had to learn how to LISTEN.
It was complained against me that,” this is not part of the university course, syllabus; nowhere is it mentioned that for one month we have to learn to listen.”
The vice-chancellor asked me,” What is this, that you ask students just to sit and learn to listen for one month?”
I said,” Yes. What can I do? I am carrying the whole burden of your society. This should have been done in their earlier stages; it would have been easier.”
” But, he said,” they all hear perfectly, their ears are perfect.”
I said,” It is not a question of ears. You can hear something while you are thinking inside; then that thinking gets mixed with your hearing – it is contaminated, corrupted. Then what you carry as if you have heard it is not what has been said. It is something else; it can be even just the opposite.“
” You have prejudices inside which go on screening everything that passes through your ears. They prevent all that is against their prejudices, and they allow only that which supports their prejudices. Now, this way at least you cannot understand philosophy. I am not concerned about other subjects, but in my subject, it is impossible, because philosophy basically is an awareness of a problem from all its aspects.”
” If you already have a mind about it…. For example, if we are discussing God and you already think that you know God is, or you know that God is not, then you cannot understand all possible aspects: what it will mean if God is, what it will mean if God is not, what it will mean if we simply remain indifferent to the question, what it will mean if we conclude that it is impossible to know whether He is or not and we remain agnostic? And there are hundreds of other implications; but these are only possible to think of if you don’t have a predetermined idea.”
In the beginning it was very difficult for the students to sit for one hour silently listening: the birds outside, any noise – some professor shouting, some car passing, some airplane zooming – and you just listen. Nothing has to be done – just pure listening.
Many of them left before the month was finished. If thirty started, it was almost certain that only ten would be left. But those ten have remained grateful to me; not for what was taught after that one month but what they learned in that one month. What was taught was good to get the certificate but what they learned in that one month of silent listening became a new way of seeing things, of feeling, of being.
I call a person an individual if he is capable of listening.
That means, if he is capable of being in a state of meditation.
Then he is no longer a person, he is an individual.
You cannot in any way force him to do anything that his consciousness does not allow. He would rather die than take a false step. Death does not matter; what matters to him is remaining true to himself.
Your alertness, your awareness, your meditativeness functions almost like sun rays for dewdrops: all that is false evaporates. You need not decide what is right and wrong; the wrong disappears of its own accord, and what is left is right. This is a totally new way of existing.
For listening, something more is necessary than just having ears: a certain kind of silence, a serenity, a peace– the heart standing behind the ears, not the mind. It is the mind which makes you almost deaf, although you are not deaf – because the mind is constantly chattering, it is a chatterbox.
Just sometimes sit in your room, close your doors, and write down whatsoever comes into your mind just to see what goes on in it. Don’t edit it – because you are not going to show it to anybody, so just write down exactly what comes to your mind. And you will be surprised: just within ten minutes you will see that you are not sane; your mind is the mind of an insane person. Just somehow you are managing, covering it up, not allowing anybody to know what goes on inside you. And you have become experts, so much so that it is not only that you don’t allow others to know what goes on in your mind, you yourself don’t see it. And it goes on, yakkety-yak, yakkety-yak. Because of this constant mind, making noise… although you are not deaf, you cannot listen. You can hear.
Listening needs a silent communication.
Research in depth psychology have come to very strange conclusions. One of the strangest conclusions is that although it has always been thought that the mind is the medium to connect you with the world – it is a bridge, a mediator, a window – the researchers have found that this is not the case. Mind is a barrier, not a bridge; it is a window, but a closed window not an open window. It is a censor for whatever passes in front of you. And the most surprising fact for the researchers has been that ninety-eight percent of what you hear is not allowed in; only two percent reaches to you– that too, in a distorted form.
If there are ﬁve hundred people here, that means there are ﬁve hundred versions of what I am saying. If you are asked afterwards to give a report in short of what I have said, you will ﬁnd ﬁve hundred different reports contradicting each other. They were all eyewitnesses; they were all present here!
It happened: one English historian, Edmund Burke, was writing a world history and he was very ambitious. He wanted to make a complete history of the world – from the very beginning, when life started as a ﬁsh in the ocean– up to now; the whole world, whatever has happened … And he had devoted almost his whole life to collecting all kinds of facts and ﬁgures.
One afternoon he heard a shot behind his house. He ran– there was a crowd– a man was lying … he had been shot. He was not yet dead, but he would die at any moment, so much blood had gone out of his body. And there was a crowd– they were all eyewitnesses. In front of them, the man had been shot and the murderer had escaped.
Edmund Burke enquired from different people, and he found different versions of what had happened. They were all eyewitnesses, and their descriptions of the happening were so different. Many were so contradictory that he could not believe it was possible. And then a great question arose in his mind,” What am I doing? I am writing the history of the world from the times when life arose in the ocean as ﬁsh, and then all the transformations of life up to the man of today, and I cannot ﬁgure it out – just behind my house I have heard a shot, eyewitnesses are present, and yet I cannot ﬁgure out what has happened. Of what value is my history?”
He dropped the whole project. He never looked again at all the collected material for which he had wasted almost his whole life. Many of his friends said,” This is not right – just because of a small incident.”
He said,” It is not a small incident. It shows that all that I am writing is only my prejudice, my opinion about something for which I don’t have any eyewitnesses. And even if I had eyewitnesses, it would be of no use. Something happens behind my home; I hear the sound of a shot, I run there in time– the man is dying, the crowd is standing … and everybody has a different story to tell! Now, what can I say about Confucius? What can I say about Moses? What can I say about Krishna? – whether these people ever existed or not?”
No, history is simply not possible. And it is true, you can see it. For three hundred years this country was under the slavery of Britain. British historians have written about the last three hundred years’ history, and Indian historians have also written … and they don’t agree on any point. The rulers have their own opinion, their own prejudice; the ruled have their own opinion, their own prejudice. How can they agree? Who is going to decide who is right? There is no third party which is neutral.
This is almost the situation of everybody. Your religion is your interpretation, your convenience, your comfort. What you hear, you hear only selectively – whatever suits your purpose. If you are sitting here with a predetermined mind, that you know already what is right and what is wrong, you cannot listen.
So, the ﬁrst step is, start meditating and create the space of silence, so that when you sit here you can really be available to me– not holding anything back – so that I can reach to your heart. But if you remain closed, there is no way.
I cannot interfere in your being unless you invite me. Without your invitation and your openness and receptivity, interfering with your life is against the very fundamental rights of every human being.
Everybody should be left alone in his individuality. Unless you invite me, I will stand at the door and wait for you; I will not even knock at your door, because even if I knock you may open the door unwillingly. It will be pointless – you will still be resistant.
If you are waiting for me with open doors and your eyes are looking far away in the distance, waiting for me … and as I come closer to you– as you start hearing my footsteps – you rejoice, then there is a possibility of communion. Then I can say something. Or it may not even need to be said … just being in my presence may be enough – something may start changing within you, without anything being said.
This is one of the paradoxes of existence: you sit here for years, hearing, and you don’t hear a word. And I am saying to you,” Sit here silently, there is no need even for me to say anything and you will hear it. You will hear the message, because the message is of silence, it does not consist of words.”
Osho: From Misery to Enlightenment: CHAPTER 21. MY MESSAGE – A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (Excerpts)
Osho: The New Dawn: CHAPTER 15. YOU FOOL AROUND– THEN LEARN THE LESSON Q 2 (Excerpts)
हम लबों से कह न पाए उन से हाल-ए-दिल कभी
और वो समझे नहीं ये ख़ामुशी क्या चीज़ है……………… निदा फ़ाज़ली
ham laboñ se kah na paa.e un se hāl-e-dil kabhī
aur vo samjhe nahīñ ye ḳhāmushī kyā chiiz hai…………….NIDA FAZLI
I couldn’t confess my feelings in words to her
and she couldn’t understand my silence.
1942: A Love Story (1994). The film was released sometime after the death of the music director, Rahul Dev Burman. The film received five Filmfare Awards. This is the first Indian film to use Dolby Stereo. This beautiful song was written by Javed Akhtar and sung by Kumar Sanu.
(560) Kuch Na Kaho – Kumar Sanu – 1942 A Love Story (1994) – YouTube
1 thought on “Silence: Art of Listening.”
This is such a meaningful read! Being a listener is indeed tough. It’s not just being attentive but open, prejudice free absorption. I think we need to cultivate this early on.