The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening


I feel I can relax more and more deeply into myself. Yet, at the periphery, there is an unassertiveness, a trembling that can cloud the blissfulness of life. “Beloved master, does my ego need nourishment? My God! Prem Rajya, I wonder whether you have been listening to me. Every day, morning and evening, I’m telling you to drop the ego and you are asking me a great question: “Beloved master, does my ego need nourishment?” And you are also saying, “I feel I can relax more and more deeply into myself. Yet, at the periphery, there is an unassertiveness, a trembling that can cloud the blissfulness of life. Does my ego need nourishment?” That will destroy whatever relaxation you have, and that will stop your growth going inwards. It will make your trembling more strong and the cloud that is covering the blissfulness of your life will become darker. Nourishment of the ego is against your authentic being; it cannot help you in any way. It can only destroy you destroy you as you are destined to be by your nature. Ego is a false mask; it will hide your original face. Don’t ask for its nourishment. In fact, cut off all nourishment to it. Let it die. The death of the ego will be the beginning of your real life. The more the ego becomes strong, the less is the possibility of any realization of yourself. Little Ernie was taking a walk in the park with his father, when suddenly a bee settled on a rock in front of them. Just for spite, Ernie picked up a piece of wood and smashed the bee, whereupon his father said, “That was very cruel, Ernie, and for being cruel you will get no honey for a year.” Later, Ernie deliberately stepped on a butterfly. “And for that, young man,” said his father, “you will get no butter for a year.” When they returned home, Ernie’s mother was fixing the dinner. Just as they entered the kitchen, she saw a cockroach and immediately crushed it. Ernie looked at his father mischievously and said, “Will you tell her, Dad, or shall I?” Your question really makes me wonder how you have been listening. And perhaps this is the state of many of you. You listen to what you want to listen, not what is being said. You go on continuously interpreting according to your old prejudices. Your mind is continuously interfering; it does not allow what is being said to reach to your heart. What reaches to you is something else, distorted, disfigured, maybe so distorted that it is almost the opposite of what has been said. One has to learn very earnestly the art of listening. It is a difficult art, and the greatest difficulty is that everybody thinks he knows it. Just because you can hear, you think you can also listen. And these are two differing things, so different that unless you start listening you will never know the difference. In the dictionaries they mean the same thing, but in actual life hearing is only because you have ears. Listening happens when just behind your ears there is no noisy mind but a silent, receptive alertness. If there is continuously chattering mind behind the ears you only seem to listen. Then there are going to be misunderstandings. I myself was very shocked when I came to know that psychologists have discovered that the mind does not allow ninety-eight percent of information to reach you. It only allows two percent; ninety-eight percent is simply rejected in many different ways. Either it gives it a new color, a new meaning, or it misses it deliberately, takes it into a different context where the meaning changes. But the distortion percentage is ninety-eight percent. The two percent it allows without distorting, because it agrees with its old structure. So it listens only to itself. Those two percent are agreeable to the mind and so it immediately allows them in without creating obstructions, without creating arguments, doubts, misinterpretations. And language is vulnerable; each word can mean many things. The mind has the capacity to choose any meaning it wants, any meaning that fits with it. The art of listening is based on silence in the mind, so that the mind does not interfere, it simply allows whatever is coming to you. I am not saying you have to agree with it. Listening does not mean that you have to agree with it, neither does it mean that you have to disagree with it. The art of listening is just pure listening, factual, undistorted. And once you have listened then comes the point whether you agree or not, but the first thing is to listen. If you listen to something which is true there is no question of disagreement. If it is untrue, naturally you have to disagree with it. But your agreement or disagreement should come not from the prejudiced mind, but from the unprejudiced heart. Listening is from the heart, and hearing is from the mind, it is very superficial. And because the heart is deeper, any word that enters you first has to encounter the mind. Before it reaches the heart, the mind has done many things with it. A man is standing at the bar and another guy walks up to him and says, “Are you Joe Smith?” The man says, “Yes.” The guy says, “Were you in Chicago a few weeks ago?” Joe says, “Just a minute,” and takes out his notebook, turns some pages, and then says, “Yes, I was in Chicago a few weeks ago.” The guy says, “Were you in room two one three?” Joe looks in his notebook and says, “Yes.” The guy says, “Did you meet Mrs. Wentworth in room two one four?” Joe looks in his notebook and says, “Yes.” The guy says, “Tell me, did you make love to Mrs. Wentworth?” Joe scans his notebook again and says, “Yes, I made love to Mrs. Wentworth.” The guy says, “Well, I’m Mr. Wentworth and I don’t like it.” Again Joe looks in his notebook and says, “You know, that’s funny. I did not like it either.” This is what you call hearing. He agrees perfectly, but he hears only what he wants to hear; he understands what he wants to understand. And this is almost our everyday situation. At least here with me, you have to change this pattern, you have to be utterly silent because things are being said to you which can bring a transformation in your whole life. Here you are not learning geography or history or philosophy; here you are learning the very art, the alchemy of transformation. It is not collecting knowledge and information and becoming more knowledgeable. The effort here is just the opposite: to make you less knowledgeable and more innocent, to the final point where you can say,”I don’t know anything.” Just like a newly born child, you are pure consciousness, unscratched, unspoiled. This is the state of a sage, of a wise man. His life has a completion. From childhood he began and he moved the whole circle of life. Back he has come again to the same point that he has left in his childhood, the pure consciousness which knows nothing but reflects everything. He is capable of understanding everything exactly as it is without any distortion because he has no prejudices to distort. The state of the sage has no preconceived ideas to mix and to mess and to disfigure. There is a story in the life of Lao Tzu. I have loved it very much… He used to go for a morning walk deep in the mountains very early before the sunrise when it was dark and there were still stars in the sky. And he used to go to the peak from where the sunrise was the most beautiful. And he would stand there sometimes for hours, just watching the sunrise, listening to the birds, seeing the trees dancing with joy and life, opening their flowers, releasing their fragrance. And then he would come back. One of his neighbors used to come with him. And he knew that Lao Tzu did not want to talk at all, because that would be a disturbance in his deep communion with nature. He had told him, “If you don’t use any words not even hello, you can come. Silently you can join me, silently you can follow me, silently we come back; there is no need to say even goodbye. Words have to be completely dropped if you want to come with me.” The neighbor loved it. He had never thought that things can be so beautiful because he had never seen the world with such a silent peaceful mind, and with such a beautiful man who must be vibrating his silence and his blissfulness to the neighbor. Because they had been doing it for years now, the neighbor had completely forgotten that it was a strange type of morning walk. People go, and they talk and they discuss and they argue. They don’t look at the trees, they don’t look at the disappearing stars, they don’t look at the rising sun. They are so much involved with their minds that who is there to look at all the beauty, all the joy of existence, the life again coming back from its sleep as the sun has set the day before. There is everywhere celebration, in the trees, in the flowers, in the birds. The man was immensely grateful to Lao Tzu that he allowed him to be with him for so many years. Lao Tzu said, “But I had implored you not to use language. Why are you using language today after so many years?” He said, “A problem has arisen. A guest is staying with me and he also wants to come tomorrow.” Lao Tzu said, “The condition you have to tell him. He should remember that nothing has to be said on the way, then he can come.” And the guest thought, It is a strange condition. Not a single word, not even hello, not even a goodbye when departing…! But his host said, “He is a very different kind of man and he will not relax the condition. So please forget all your etiquette and mannerisms. Simply come with me, remain just like a shadow, and the experience is tremendous.” The experience was tremendous. When they reached to the highest peak from where they could see the sun rising just underneath, deep down in the valley, he forgot the condition; it was so beautiful. He had never seen such a thing, not even dreamt it. He was so overwhelmed that he said to Lao Tzu, “It is so beautiful.” Lao Tzu looked at the host. Suddenly the guest remembered that words are not to be used. Nothing was said. But as they reached home Lao Tzu told his neighbor, “From tomorrow don’t come.” He said, “But you are punishing me too much, and I have not spoken a single word. This guest is new; he does not know you. And he has also not said much, just that it is a beautiful sunrise.” Lao Tzu said, “You say it was just a little? That fellow is very talkative. Although he was not saying I could hear his chattering mind. All the way he was chattering: This is beautiful, that is beautiful, and finally, he asserted. Does he think that we can’t understand beauty, that he has to tell us? I was present; you were present; he was present. We were watching the same sunrise; what was the need to say anything? No, he is too talkative. And because you brought him, and you disturbed my morning, from tomorrow nobody comes with me.” The neighbor finally persuaded him and he allowed him back after a week, but told him, “Never ask if any guests can come. They don’t know how to be silent; they are too new. I have never felt any difficulty with you, because not only do you not say anything, you don’t think anything.” Thinking and speaking are not basically different. In front of a silent man, whether you think or speak it is the same. Thinking is talking with yourself inside. People don’t hear it because they are engaged within themselves; they don’t hear even when you talk to them. How can they hear your inner chattering. But a man like Lao Tzu, in the deepest meditativeness, is able to catch your chattering almost like whispering. Even that much is a disturbance and you will not be able to listen to what is being said. Gautam Buddha used to initiate people, and the first thing was for two years not to use language at all. Naturally, two years is a long period, and if you don’t use language, slowly your inner chattering also stops because it is getting no more nourishment from outside. How long can you continue playing football on your own? You need a partner. Slowly, slowly you become fed up repeating the same things, because what new information will you be getting? You have repeated the old information many times. I have heard… People were waiting in the waiting room of a railway station. The train was late. A man was sitting on an easy chair and everybody was interested in watching the man. Sometimes he will giggle, sometimes he will even laugh loudly, sometimes he will throw something away. Everybody was silently watching and wondering what he is doing. Sometimes he will make a bad face as if something bitter has come into his mouth, and sometimes he will smile so sweetly. Finally they could not contain themselves. The train was getting later and later and that man was weighing heavier and heavier on them. One of them gathered courage and went to the gentleman and asked, “You have to forgive us, but everybody in the waiting room is interested to know what you are doing?” He said, “Doing? I’m not doing anything. I’m just telling jokes to myself.” They said, “That makes sense why you sometimes giggle and sometimes laugh. why do you sometimes throw something and make a bad face?” He says, “When I hear some old joke I throw it away.” Now if you are telling jokes to yourself, all are old. From where are you getting new jokes? And how long will you deceive yourself? If for two years you have to sit silently just telling jokes to yourself, by the time two years have passed everything is old. You will be throwing with both the hands, and not a single giggle! After initiating anybody into sannyas the first thing Gautam Buddha used to say was, “Now for two years be completely silent. Do not use language. If you want water then show the symbol; just be dumb. Act dumb, as if you cannot speak, so you are showing that you need water or you need food. You can point to your stomach when you are feeling hungry. Use symbols as if you cannot speak.” Two years were a long time, but after two years people were so calm and quiet, so radiant, so full of energy. Your constant chattering is destroying your energy. So Buddha used to remind them, “Now your two years are over, you can use language just if it is necessary. But now you are capable of listening to what I am saying.” But many of his disciples even after two years did not use any language. The silence of being dumb… and symbols were working perfectly well. They have survived the two years just by making symbols, the very essential. You cannot talk philosophy in symbols; you cannot argue for or against God just by symbols. You can ask for water, you can ask for food, you can ask for shelter; you can say that you are feeling feverish or you are feeling cold or you are feeling too hot just small day-to-day things which can be counted on your ten fingers. Only then do you become capable of listening; otherwise you only hear. And if you are capable of listening there is nothing left for you to do. In that silence you will be able to see without any argumentation within you what is right and what is not right. The right immediately makes you so joyful and the wrong immediately makes you sad and aloof. It is a totally different kind of differentiation than mental talk: “This is right; this is wrong.” On what grounds can your mind say, “This is right”? It is your prejudice; it is your preconceived idea. But the heart has no preconceived ideas. It simply sees clearly. It has eyes but no ideas. It has a clarity but no prejudices. With that clarity it can see where the door is and where the wall is. It does not have to think about it. Only a blind man thinks, Where is the door? Only a blind man starts finding the door with his walking stick. You don’t do that; you don’t even think about the door. If you want to go out, you know, you see. There is no need of thinking, you simply go out of the door. It is not because you are not thinking that first you try to go through the wall, and then you think about where the door is. And after a logical syllogism you decide, “This must be the door.” This kind of process does not take place when you have eyes. Silence becomes your eyes. Silence becomes your criterion of what is right and what is not right. And the decision that comes out of silence transforms you. You don’t have to do anything. Mahavira, another contemporary of Gautam Buddha, a man of the same height of consciousness as Gautam Buddha, has made two divisions of people who attain to truth. One division he used to call the shravakar. It means one who is capable of listening. Shravan means listening, and shravakar means the listener, one who is capable of listening in the sense I have defined listening; one who need not do anything else, just listening will be enough. If you have a master with you, a man who knows, then listening is enough. If you don’t have a master with you naturally listening will not help. Then you have to be a sadhu. So these are the two categories who travel towards truth. The sadhu means the monk. He has to follow certain disciplines; he has to perform certain austerities, fasting, praying, chanting, the reading of the scriptures. He has to do a thousand and one things which for the listener are not needed. The art of listening is the simplest method of transformation. Copyright© OSHO International Foundation, Switzerland www.OSHO.com/copyright OSHO is a registered Trademark of OSHO International Foundation

78 thoughts on “The Art of Listening

  1. Watch the preview video here https://youtu.be/ocfxD68J2jc
    Click the "🔔 Set Reminder" button to watch the full length video on Sunday! 💕

  2. 🙏
    I have subscribed you but I am extremely disappointed and unhappy with you :

    1. Osho was never conservative in his thoughts, he never meant his teachings for selected bunch. He could have never thought of copyrighting or patenting something of his own. But in the name of Osho you show your meanness.

    2. Your second last uploaded video viewed by hundreds of thousand viewers dates back to 4 years. Last uploaded video of 11 odd minutes is less than a week away. Now we can expect your next video in 2023.
    Good justice with your legacy.
    🙏

  3. Deberían poner los subtítulos en español para poder disfrutar de todo el contenido de este gran maestro de vida 🤷🏼‍♂️

  4. Art of listening by osho is based on japji saheb 8th paudi by guru nanak….he says with listening devta(gods),sun, planets born…..Sunna is the first kla likes shri krishna has 16 kla's…..Sunna is the first and foremost due to which every klaa is born…..

  5. Dear volunteer, appreciate your effort to bring out osho talks in such a sophisticated way. Nothing is free in this world. Why would this be free then? When i will be able to afford it, I will take the paid subscription. Till then i have subscribed here. Thank you for the Videos.

  6. 💕Like, share and subscribe the video and channel. Click on 🔔 button to get regular updates.💕

  7. I didn't get the joke "Mrs. Wentworth".Can someone please explain? I'm extremely dumb to understand a joke!

  8. Osho, master of masters. He literally changed my life. READ HIS BOOKS, if you haven't. They're fascinating.

  9. Very very important and principally truth!! Why we need to speak……why are we educated to listening? is it not more simple to be…we are eternal…. thanks osho!!!

  10. QUE RELAGO MARAVILLOSO, MUCHAS GARCIAS POR MANTENER ESE LEGADO MAS VIVO QUE NUNCA, MAS EN ESTOS DIAS DE TANTA AGITACION MENTAL!!

  11. That cockroach joke 🤣

    Dont bother listening to the words, if you really watch his eyes throughout you will be enlightened

  12. Thanks airing and sharing the outstanding vid.Pulchchritud of the Master and your endeavors.Bliss Namaste_ Vanakkam

  13. How long will it take to make available this tresure-trove you're sitting on. Osho International?

    Please release the long discourses in English; it will position Osho to his rightful place; you are doing him a disservice by blocking english content on youtube….

  14. Este fue el primer video que vi y lo borraron hace muchos años aun recuerdo el inicio parece que no me has estado escuchando

  15. நான் தினமும் உறங்கும் முன் ஓஷோவின் உரைகளை கேட்டு விட்டு தான் படுப்பேன். என்னுடைய மாஸ்டருக்கு பணிவான வணக்கம்.

  16. Can someone complete this sentence for me? "You listen with your heart and…" thanks

  17. A true guru should never make fun of his students. Eckhart Tolle would never do this. I am shocked by Oshos ego. So ironic….

  18. El verdadero maestro, no es aquel que responde tus preguntas.
    El verdadero maestro es aquel, que te lleva al lugar donde no hay preguntas. Gracias maestro Osho.

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