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Good morning!  Welcome to the DKos Sangha weekly open thread.

This is an open thread for members of the DKos Sangha and others who are interested in discussions concerning how we integrate our progressive political activism into our spiritual practice.  If you have observations about the political discourse of the week, or about practice, or about anything else related to walking a spiritual path through the political world, if you wish to share, or if you seek support, or if you simply want to say hello, please do; this space is for you.

If you would like to write a diary for the DKos Sangha, please let me know.

If you care nothing for spiritual practice and only wish to denigrate and disparage, please do so elsewhere, and respect that this is a community diary for the DKos Sangha.


When we are having a conversation with someone, our conditioning, the thoughts in our head, ego, tends to start telling stories about what we are hearing; there is judgement, labeling, the taking of sides, etc.  And sometimes the thoughts in our head that arise in reaction to what we are hearing start going off on their own, and you then realize you are no longer even hearing the words the other person is saying.

If your conversation is in a restaurant or similar public space, your attention may be distracted by people passing by, or sounds coming from the kitchen or from children.

A few years ago I attended a workshop where the teacher shared an exercise in listening.  The group divided into pairs.  The exercise was simple.  For some period of time (I can't recall the specified period, maybe two minutes?) one person talks about, shares, something of importance to them, perhaps something that has been troubling them recently.  The other person listens.  Then at the end of the time period, the second person repeats what was heard; but in the excercise, this repeating of what was heard is not a reinterpretation or a summary or a gist, but as closely as possible a word for word retelling of what was heard.

For the speaker, when hearing the listener recount what was heard, there is the experience of having been truly heard.  And for the listener, there is the practice of being fully present and fully focused on the words that are spoken.

In day to day interactions with others, we don't need to repeat back word for word what was said to us by those we meet with; but when we share a conversation with someone, we should be completely present and completely focused on what they are saying.  And when we are, it changes the experience for both.  You can often tell when someone isn't fully listening to you, especially when you see their eyes looking around the room, following those who are walking around, and only occasionally glancing back at you.  But your experience is changed when you realize the person you are speaking with is fully focused on your words.

And when you truly listen, when you are present, when separation falls away, when egoic conditioning isn't making up its own stories in your head, when your heart opens to the person you are with, when you listen compassionately, no judgment, no guilting, the experience is transformational.  This is meditation in action; it is taking your practice off the cushion and out into everyday life.  And it is heart opening; you are giving fully, welcoming unconditionally, when you truly listen.

The reactive conditioning that seems to chatter away ceaselessly in our head separates us from the experience of now; the running commentary is the reality of our world instead of the actual world.  Waking up from this illusion, this separation, is a fundamentally different experience of what it is, or can be, to be human.  Our meditation practice can introduce us to this experience of now; mindfulness practice like be fully present with simple things like washing dishes takes us a little further into the experience.  And listening practice takes us further still, breaking down the barriers of separation between us and the people we meet with.

The next time you have dinner with a friend, be present, fully, compassionately.  And listen.


Enjoy your day!

Originally posted to DKos Sangha on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks, Dave. Very nice diary, (6+ / 0-)

    an excellent reminder of how important presence to the moment is. Listening like that is a deep acknowledgement of the other person's being, giving them space to be themselves and show they are appreciated.

    I've been engaging in another form of listening, but more passively: sacred music. It's an easy way to add beauty to my life, as I work at home and get out little. Here's a link for you and anyone interested:

    Sacred Music

    Just press the widget's forward button under the "Listen Live" heading. Enjoy!

    PS. I sometimes forget to stop by here, sorry! If I miss a day and remember later, I usually go back to read but don't comment, then.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:21:36 AM PDT

  •  Good morning, dave. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, annieli

    I have participated in listening exercises like the one you describe.  It is a profound gift for both to really hear and to really be heard, instead of the typical situation where we overwrite what the other person is saying with our own narratives.  And, sometimes "hearing" and "being heard" are done with a smile, a touch of the hand, or an embrace.

    Thank you, once again.  I so appreciate your providing this space for us to gather.

    •  Good morning, and thank you Joy. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, annieli

      Yes, the listening exercise was indeed a wonderful gift.

      Your phrase "we overwrite what the other person is saying with our own narrative" is a great way of putting not only what typically happens in conversations but also what tends to happen generally for most people in their day to day lives; the tendency of reactive conditioning to compare, critique, fault; essentially replacing our immediate experience with a ghost written, heavily opinionated, and excessively filtered narrative.

      Love one another

      by davehouck on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:29:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My experience at a nursing home (3+ / 0-)

    I take my cat to a nursing home once a month. I see this as an extension of training: as dana, I am sharing my furry cat with people who have very restricted lives and who are helped by being able to touch an animal.

    This is also about being present. It is important to be present to the cat, to perceive her communication. She relies on me to keep her safe, to make the experience a positive one.  Cat generally likes the visits, and snuggles up with people in their beds, but she does not like being touched in certain ways, and looks to me to tell people better ways to experience her. We work together as a team.

    It is also about being present to the elders. Often, no one else is visiting, or is visiting that day, and they have no other opportunity to talk. I realized one recent visit that I was resisting, fiercely, listening to the elder who was talking to me. I need to uncover the source of that resistance.

    •  I love this; thank you for sharing (3+ / 0-)

      There are a couple of things that you've written here that connected with me.  Your observations about the residents recall my own observations when I was much younger working in a nursing home.  That you take the time to do this seva is wonderful.  And I love how you explain that being present makes a real difference in the experience of what is going on now.  Being present with your cat, being present with the person you are visiting, creating a space where things are possible, a space where healing, sharing, warmth are possible.

      And then the second part; paying attention to the resistance that arises within us, and knowing that the source of this resistance is something unfinished - unresolved karma held in the body, something that needs to be met, touched, invited in to the heart where it can be allowed to dissipate.  And the important role that others play in uncovering this unmet karma, that it may finally be released - deepening our experience of now.

      Love one another

      by davehouck on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 07:00:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The "powers that be" gave us 2 eyes, 2 ears and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, davehouck

    one mouth.  What does this mean?

    We should listen twice as much, see twice as much, and speak speak half as much...

    Very hard to do, least that what my wife tells me about myself...  A very smart lady, indeed...  


    A very good diary to ponder... and try to put into practice in our daily lives.  

    Nice one.



    Beer - Helping White Guys Dance Since 1842.

    by LamontCranston on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 10:08:41 AM PDT

  •  dKos is deep and wide... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm glad to find a Buddhist community here!

    This is a most excellent diary, thank you for writing it. I know I've commented a bit late after it's publication, but I'm relatively new here and still feeling my way around.

    Most appreciated.

    •  Hi Joe; welcome to Daily Kos and to ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... the DKos Sangha.  Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to comment.

      This Sangha isn't just Buddhist.  Though it draws from various traditions of Buddhism, it also draws from Advaita and Yoga traditions; and more broadly finds beneficial teachings, teachers, and practices within other traditions as well, including Sikh, Sufi, Hindu, Native American, etc, and some that are outside established traditions.  All of this is loosely included under the heading Dharma.

      Each person's path is unique, and the teachings, teachers and traditions, the dharmas, that are most beneficial to each person will be unique to that person and will change over time as they move along their path.  This sangha recognizes and honors these differences in our paths and the dharmas each of us finds of benefit.

      We try to publish a new diary each Sunday morning around 10:00 or so.

      Thanks again, and enjoy your day!

      Love one another

      by davehouck on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 05:34:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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