Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > ListeningToGift


Listening to as Gift to Others

The Response of Empathic Presence

Apr 11, 2007

Saying For Today: Prayerful Silence is practice-ground for learning how to deeply and fully listen to others. After all, if you cannot lovingly listen to your own heart, how can you offer that gift to another person?

Wisdom Story

A group of frogs was traveling through the woods. Two of them fell into a deep pit.

The other frogs gathered around the pit. On seeing how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never be able to get out.

The two frogs ignored the comments. Instead, they tried to jump up and out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop. They assured the two frogs they were certainly without hope.

One of the frogs took to heart what the other frogs were saying. He gave up. Soon, he died, collapsing to the ground.

The other frog continued to jump as high as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled for him to stop the suffering and just die.

He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs asked, "Why did you continue jumping? Didn't you hear us?"

Said the frog, now reading their lips, "Oh, I'm deaf. I thought you were encouraging me to keep trying to get out."


This Sufi tale tells of the power of words of encouragement. We are on Earth, together, to listen and speak to the good of other persons.

Our voice is a sacred trust. We can build persons up, or we can tear them down with words.

Why are words powerful? Words are not only sounds or expressed thoughts. Words are communications of energy. When I speak to a person, I am giving, am offering, a specific quality of energy.

We cannot speak rightly and well, building persons up, if when listening to them we get embroiled in our own inner emotions in response.

As taught in Buddhism, we must cultivate the Inner Observer, or the Witness. This is the capacity to listen fully to the person, but to listen as a witness to her words, thoughts, and feelings.

What does this allow? First, she truly feels~knows~she has been listened to, not just heard. There is a big difference between listening to and hearing. Also, you can respond to her, rather than react. Reaction is the selfless projection of your feelings and thoughts upon her, rather than the offering of feelings and thoughts that reflect the need she expressed in her words, approach to, or feelings toward you.


Christ is called the "Word." Christ models this listening to gift we give others. He did not come in some reactivity to us (as too much ultraconservative theology teaches). Christ came~and comes~as a lovingly detached, full God-Presence, reflecting back to us our already-longing to know Unconditional Love and our True Nature as divine sons and daughters of the Father, or Source of Life. Christ came to fulfill our deepest need and yearning.

God joins with the language of our hearts, even before we speak and more accurately than we can speak.

Christ continues this intimate listening and reflecting. How? Through the Spirit of Christ, the holy Spirit, within the heart of us each and all.

We participate with the holy Spirit's inner listening, when we practice loving, patient, and caring listening to the other person.

This is one reason we need to practice prayerful Silence daily: such practice is not just about some higher spiritual consciousness or union with God. Prayerful Silence is practice-ground for learning how deeply and fully to listen to others.

After all, if you cannot lovingly listen to your own heart, how can you offer that gift to another person?

Suggested Reflection

1) Who models for you this sacred trust of listening?

2) What in the above writing encouraged you? Informed you? Challenged you?

3)What is the relationship between practicing Silent Prayer and your listening to and with other persons?

4) Are there unresolved emotional issues in your heart and mind that need healing for you to be a better listener and responder to other persons? If so, why not name them now, pray about them, and begin a plan to address them and work toward healing?


See next page for details on OneLife Ministries, Brian's book An Ache for Union, and material pertaining to sources used in the writing.

Feel free to submit a query. Thanks! Brian K. Wilcox



See next page for Invitation to writer's contemplative village, purpose of OneLife, data on ordering author's book and upcoming devotionals 2008, and material on citations.


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