Paying attention

The problem with thinking is that it causes you to develop illusions.  And thinking may be such a waste of energy!  Who needs it?*
(Nassim Taleb)

In his book The Last Word and the Word After That, Brian McLaren identifies the community of knowing.  It’s really a community of unknowing because each member encourages and is encouraged to explore and attempt more.  When the group ceases to do this, either they must be challenged to step up or members must leave and find or form another community.

I recently came across how difficult it is to be openly listened to in a possibility of exploring way in a group just like this.  One person offers input, the others listen openly and reflect back but do not give advice.   This felt unnerving, a different kind of experience for the one inputting.

When we are being deeply listened to, our thinking is taken to new places, places we have not had to go to before when others have produced the answers for us.

Those listening were equally honest, confessing how hard it was not to deeply listen, not to make their ideas the centre of the conversation or follow distracting thoughts out of the room.

These words from Richard Rohr, identifying the kind of disorientation likely to be personally experienced when moving from the past to the future, provide a description for moving into deeper listening:

‘You normally have to let go of the old and go through a stage of unknowing and confusion, before you can move to a new level of awareness or new capacity.’**

This being with others in an increasingly open way is unsettling, as Nassim Taleb points out what’s normally going on:

‘We unwittingly amplify commonalities with friends, dissimilarities with strangers, and contrasts with enemies.’^

These commonalities, dissimilarities and contrasts probably have little basis, “heuristics and biases”* we tell ourselves and they must be broken through with deeper listening.  Rainer Maria Rilke knew how hard this is:

“for one human being to love another … is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks … the work for which all other works is but preparation”.^^

Rilke is positing the closest of all human relationships but the work of relationships are true for all.

To listen deeply, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – because it will take all – creates the new environments we need to move into futures we cannot imagine on our own.

We have to go to the difficult places, counsels entrepreneur Jim Rohn:

“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow.  Go where the expectations and demands are high.”*^

Uncanny are surprising things that can change and grow us:

“The uncanny is always crouching, ready to spring.”^*

(*From Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness.)
(**From Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now.)
(^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(^^Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: How to Break Up with Integrity.)
(*^Jim Rohn, quoted in Benjamin Hardy’s Willpower Doesn’t Work.)
(^*Tom Cunning, Quoted in Charlotte Bosseaux’s Dubbing: Film and Performance.)


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