Are you a good listener?
What does it mean to be a good listener?
How do we cultivate the sacred art of listening?
Listening is the clearest display of our communion with God. A bad listener does not enjoy the intimacy that is available in God's Loving Presence. A good listener has the capacity to be in ever present communion with the One who has created us.
Listening is the only real sign of respect that one person can show to another.
We all have met good listeners and feel the connection that they made with us through their capacity to listen well. It made us feel respected when we were listened to.
In the wondrous pages of The Urantia Book we are told that Jesus was a "charming listener." (171:2.4) It is written that Jesus "listened with interest." (167:2.4) He always listened "attentively." (164:2.3) And, not just "attentively;" he listened "attentively and sympathetically." (127:5.5) Jesus provides the premier example of what it means to be a good listener, as he listened "carefully" (127:2.2) and "with patience." (146:3.1)
How could Jesus be such a good listener? Because he truly cared for and respected the person to whom he listened. That respect was the result of his vision of each person as an infinitely beloved son or daughter of the Eternal God of all existence!
What can learn from Jesus? We can ask the hard question: am I good listener? If not, what can I learn from Jesus that would improve my capacity to be a good listener?
We can see that he listened with interest, attentively and sympathetically, carefully and with patience. That is a tall order for our small, but growing minds and souls!
Our minds are forever distracted, forever impatient, forever inattentive, waiting for our opportunity to jump into the current of conversation, without having really listened or respected the person speaking. We are afraid we will lose our thought. We are afraid that we will not get to share our wisdom. We are afraid.
Imagine the Creator of our Local Universe listening to you as Jesus listened. What possible response, but to seek to emulate his ability to listen. For in truth, God listens to us in that manner every moment of our existence. How should we respond?
As the beings we are, we are ever so prone not to listen attentively and sympathetically, not to listen carefully and with patience. Agree?
In the last, perhaps most important point in Jesus' discourse on prayer it is written that:
Jesus taught his followers that, when they had made their prayers to the Father, they should remain for a time in silent receptivity to afford the indwelling spirit the better opportunity to speak to the listening soul. (146:2.17)
Our listening should allow for silent receptivity. Whether it is in our prayer or worship, or in our conversations with others. We should allow that critical moment of silent receptivity, without which we have not adequately listened to the person speaking to us, or, more importantly, we have not adequately listened to the indwelling Presence of God. The two are connected. As we allow silent receptivity, we demonstrate respect for the other person and we also allow for the wisdom of God to speak to our own listening soul.
Jesus went on to teach that:
The spirit of the Father speaks best to man when the human mind is in an attitude of true worship. We worship God by the aid of the Father's indwelling spirit and by the illumination of the human mind through the ministry of truth. Worship, taught Jesus, makes one increasingly like the being who is worshiped. Worship is a transforming experience whereby the finite gradually approaches and ultimately attains the presence of the Infinite. (146:2.17)
Thus, the supreme commandment of the universe, to be increasingly like God, is best approached in silent receptivity, in an attitude of true worship. When we listen attentively and sympathetically, with care and with patience, we are stepping into the domain of worship wherein we are transformed by God's indwelling and gracious Presence. It all begins and ends with sacred listening.
Now that is something worth listening to!