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Listening While Speaking

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I’ve noticed that when most people begin speaking, they stop listening, thinking that their turn to listen comes when they stop speaking and someone else begins to speak. During their speaking, forgetting as they do to listen, they become broadcast stations, transmitting listenpre-recorded messages to their audience of one, two, or a thousand.

Broadcasting is not authentic speaking. In order to speak authentically — and effectively — we have to listen while we speak. Actually, we have to listen before we speak, while we speak, and after we speak.

What do we listen to, and for? We listen to the silence that precedes our speaking, we listen to what we say and how we say it. We listen to the place from where our words come. We listen to hear if we are speaking our truth, or if we are lying. We listen to our body and how we feel while we’re speaking. We listen to our body. We listen to our breath. We iisten to the silence between and behind our words. We listen to our audience. We listen for the effect we are having. We listen to what is going on around us. We listen for the level of attention in our audience.  We listen to the passing of time. We listen to the stillness or commotion in the minds of our audience. There is virtually no end to what we listen to and for.

Listening is really awareness. When we speak, we have to reamain aware. Most people are not aware of what they are saying and how they are saying it, not really.  They do not listen. It is the degree of our real time listing, our in-the-moment awareness, that determines the quality, the authenticity, and the true impact of our speaking.

Speaking and listening are not two separate activities, or functions. They are one. In order to listen and speak as a single unified form of communicating, we need awareness. Awareness and silence are the same. So our speaking needs listening, and they both depend upon silent awareness.

It’s when our speaking merges with listening that silent awareness becomes our first language, our mother tongue. And in this language, though we do use words, our listening, our awareness, is so keen that what we actually do is transmit awareness, presence, openness. Of course, we communicate our “message,” but when we do that while listening, truly listening, communication becomes something rare, wonderful, exhilarating.




Authentic Writers

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

I think the major responsibility of authentic writers is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Of course, it’s just Allen Ginsberg - 1979their truth, but nonetheless, one must tell the truth without fear of judgment, rejection, or reprisal. Writers don’t write afternoon tea-cakes of politeness and political correctness; they write rowdy rum cakes soaked with truth. This is why writing is so hard. It requires a courage and fearlessness to be truthful that’s too much for many people. Writing holds the same secret as baseball. In the movie A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks explained the secret of baseball to Geena Davis, “Baseball is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it. The hardness makes it great.”

Writing challenges us to question everything. Writing demands that we not settle into complacency. Writers are spiritual warriors, in that they are willing to confront their demons, and also find their ecstasies. One of our great American poets, Allen Ginsberg, wrote, “The censorship of language is the censorship of consciousness.” Writers can’t afford to censor their words, because they would be censoring their consciousness — which would be artistic and spiritual suicide.

I admire any writers who are fearless and tell the truth. I admire the writers who are unafraid to break with tradition and the social conventions of their day. I lived for a time in Paris, where I hung out in cafes reading the French symbolist poets like Baudelaire and Rimbaud, because they used language that was unique and startling, and they made me think of new things. They, like other fearless writers, invite the reader into new and wondrous worlds of possibilities. They constantly ask the reader to grow beyond what they already know, and dare to imagine great new things. I loved Kurt Vonnegut because his mind was just so ironic and original. I also liked to read the mystics from around the world. I loved the Sufi poet Rumi and others whose whole purpose in writing, or singing, was to discover and express more and more truth and shake the fixed-point-of-view people awake.

That’s why he said, “However you think it is, it’s different than that.”

Here it is: to be a successful writer, to be a real human being, you’ve got to tell the truth. That’s a wild ride. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Just life and ain’t it a beauty. And if none of this makes sense, okay, just ignore everything and head on out to the center of some as-yet-un-named and un-tamed universe and call it your own.


Speaking with Awareness

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I’ve noticed that when most of us speak, we go a bit unconscious, and tend to default to auto-pilot speaking from 5 Principles logohabit and compulsion.

It’s a good idea to gift wrap each word in awareness and hand them, one at a time, to our audience with care and attention to detail. Our speaking becomes a means to transmit essence and energy when we speak with awareness, when our eyes stay bright with presence.

What we say is important, but less important than we might think — once we begin to gift wrap our words with awareness and care. Speaking in this way does not compromise spontaneity and flow and poetry. We become great poets and connectors, because we no longer speak from habit and compulsion.

This is how our speaking becomes a kind of loving, even love-making. This is what I call speaking truthfully.