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Proverbs 18:13


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The proverb of the thread title is......


He (or, in loving memory of Myron....... :P , SHE ) who answers a thing before they heareth it, it is a shame and a folly unto them."


This seems to me to have far reaching implications, which concerns what we may understand by the word "hear". What is it to genuinely HEAR something?


Often I have read, on various forums, the testimony of ardent Christians, who state that "all eternity is not long enough to understand the riches of Christ". Yet, given what is also posted, apparently just five minutes of absorbing the message of a Jack Chick Tract is sufficient for another Faith to be disposed of and flung into the waste bin.


Again, there seem many who argue that a Faith must be "believed in", that the heart must be given to it, before its scriptures become discerned and understood. Yet, alas, again, those same people are prepared to tell those of other Faiths the import of their scriptures, insisting that they mean this and not that.


So it goes on.


So what is it to truly "hear" something? Confucius said, "Shall I teach you how to know something? Realise you know it when you know it, and realise you don't know it when you don't." This seems simple enough, and yet.............


For those who might suspect at this juncture that I am building up to yet another Thomas Merton quote, your worst fears are now to be realised! Here it is, drawn from The Cistercian Quarterly Review 18......



The basic and most fundamental problem of the spiritual life is this acceptance of our hidden and dark self, with which we tend to identify all the evil that is in us. We must learn by discernment to separate the evil growth of our actions from the good ground of the soul. And we must prepare that ground so that a new life can grow up from within us, beyond our knowledge and beyond our conscious control. The sacred attitude is then one of reverence, awe, and silence before the mystery that begins to take place within us, when we become aware of our inmost self. In silence, hope, expectation, and unknowing, the person of faith abandons themselves to the divine will: not as to an arbitrary and magic power whose decrees must be spelled out from cryptic cyphers, but as to the stream of reality and of life itself. The sacred attitude is then one of deep and fundamental respect for the real in whatever form it may present itself. The secular attitude is one of gross disrespect for reality, upon which the worldly mind seeks only to force its own crude patterns. The secular person is a slave of their own prejudices, preconceptions, and limitations. The person of faith is ideally free from prejudice and pliable in their uninhibited response to each new movement of the stream of life. I say "ideally" in order to exclude those whose faith is not pure but is also another form of prejudice enthroned in the exterior self - a preconceived opinion rather than a living responsiveness to the logos of each new situation. For there exists a kind of "hard" and rigid religious faith that is not really alive or spiritual, but resides entirely in the exterior self and is the product of conventionalism and systematic prejudice.


I have changed a few words to make Merton a good PC guy, and I would not myself make such distinctions between "sacred" and "secular", but the heart of the words, that often any true guidance comes from beyond our conscious choices and decisions, that we can only seek to prepare the ground, seems to answer to my own experience.


So for me, to "hear" is not to mull over and then come to a conclusion based upon our current dispositions, however deeply we seek to reflect at length and as wisely as we can, but more to "prepare the ground" and then open to the words of another, of another faith, of another path without deliberate judgement, and allow the words to rest, thus allowing the "divine" to dispose of them as "he" wishes.


Anyway, what do others think? What is it to truly "hear" a thing?

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It often seems like a most difficult thing to do. Listening and hearing that is..............


To allow a flow from within rather than an analyzation . For me during brief moments of pure listening, i find it later often necessary to satisfy the mind or maybe just a portion of it, (BTW do we have a mind of our own?) by trying to make some intellectual sense of the flow if you know what i mean especially when it opposes our conditioning. Of course the noise of mind is so great at times it is most difficult to truly listen or hear a thing. Such seems to be the 'curse' <_< of having what we think of as our mind. Well, its not really a curse :) or is it? :P



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I recall (from many moons ago!) a communications class in which we learned that communication involved the message, feedback, and clarification. I guess for me, when I "hear" something of importance, especially if I want to dismiss it just to be contrary, :blink: I try to find either clarification or affirmation. If its something I really want to "hear", I am especially careful about clarifying. Mainly because I would rather be uncomfortable than be wrong. :P


But I don't think that's how many people think - that is, many would rather be wrong than be uncomfortable. That's why IMO people act before "hearing" or "hear" what they want to in order to act in the way they already have decided to act.

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I just remembered a little story relevant to this thread, about the guy who goes to his rabbi about his marriage problems. The rabbi tells him to go home and really listen to his wife for a couple of months; to listen to every word she says. He does this, then returns to the rabbi, who asks him if things have improved. "No, not much" he says regretfully. "Well then , now go home and listen to everything she doesn't say" responds the rabbi.

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It seems to me the idea of being 'open ground' is good...many of our communications problems do seem toa rise to not being just open to hearing, really hearing and comprehending, what someone is actually saying....


To 'hear' what we want to hear, expect to hear, are preconditioned to hear, instead of just the pureneww of what is actually to be heard, makes me think of the confusion between information and implication, that tobe honest we are all probably prone to at times. We tend to assign "meanings" to things we hear, orfor that matter see, that are interpretive out of our preconditioning rather than factual. We tend to 'read meanings into' things we see and hear, meanings that are beyond what we actually literally 'heard' or 'saw.'


That preconditioning is the spoiler for that state of open ground....as when the sower's seeds of wheat fell upon the prepared ground, the resulting seedlings and crop that emerges should ideally be of the same nature as the seed sown. But if within that prepared ground there lay seeds of other things, weeds, tares, the crop that springs up will not be purely ofthenature of the seeds deliberately sown by the sower. When we "hear", recieve, the words of another, if the ground upon which they are sown, our mind, is cluttered with preexisting seeds of other things, the 'crop' we harvest, what we thing we hear, thing the other is saying, can be distorted.


If, to use an obvious example, a wife already suspects her husband is being unfaithful, she is likely to 'hear' something more, ascribe additional meaning, to his words,when he calls to tell her he has to work late at the office again tonight.



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