Intentional listening can open a path to truth and dispel illusions.
Let us consider the challenge of “stress”. Stress is experienced in a variety of forms –– a sense there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it is a common form. Stress is experienced when one is in one place, required to do a particular thing now, but wishes to be somewhere else doing another thing.
We could say stress is brought on by the illusion of not enough time. Perhaps it is our perception that leads us to believe this. Because in fact, there is only exactly enough “time” ever available to us. Contemplative listening shows us this is true.
When a drum is struck or a string is plucked, sound arises in that moment. The actions of the hand –– striking or plucking, do not produce sound some time in the future. These actions cause, what is perceived to be, an immediate result. Well …
… in fact, there is the moment to moment development of continuous air pressure disturbance that occurs from one “microsecond” to the next as the sound of the plucked string arises, is sustained, and then fades away.
But the development of any sound, from initial impulse through final fade into inaudibility, only occurs in the present moment. This is truth.
Consider the absurdity of plucking a string but not hearing the pluck until some time in the future. If such an occurrence was observed it would be felt as falsehood and dismissed out of hand immediately as a dream or conjuror’s trick. Think of the experience of watching a video where the sound of the voice and the movements of the mouth are not synchronized. Disconcerting. A falsehood.
This shows us the only true time is now. Permutation of form arising from formlessness proceeds from one present moment to the next.
Contemplating the truth of the plucked sound is a portal to peace and an antidote to stress. One could carry a rubber band in one’s pocket and when the illusion of “not enough time” arises (and with it the body sensations of stress) simply stretch the rubber band between thumb and fore finger and pluck it with the other hand.
Notice the sound arises (and vibration is felt) in the moment in which the string is plucked. Hear and feel the simple truth of this reality. Experiencing the truth of “time” in this way is a simple but powerful antidote to the misperception that somehow there is not enough “time”. While plucking the rubber band contemplate the unreality of plucking now, but hearing later.
Extend this practice of present moment listening-awareness to listening to others while in conversation. The results are quite remarkable. Often, “listening” to another is more about anxiously wanting to be able to speak again and drive one’s point forward. We see this in the rude habit of “speaking over” another while they have the floor and are presently speaking. This is not listening to another, now, in the moment. This is acting on the urge to inhabit a future time when ones own voice can be heard again.
What might occur if one was to give one’s full attention to the person speaking to you? We can say for certain your neighbor would feel more “heard” and would relax from the struggle of trying to reach the “you” that is not truly present because your mind is really future-focused.
Only moment to moment presence while conversing can establish a ground of true communication. And through instantaneous communion (in the glint of the eye) truth is experienced –– free from the “time based” challenge and falsehoods that arise through dualistic language that proceeds from one word symbol to the next, meaning only communicated (and imperfectly so) after a string of noun and verb concepts have been laid out and assembled by the listener.
Listen each and every moment when you are in conversation. Do not try to inhabit the future moment when you can speak again. Listen to your conversation partner as their voice forms the sounds of their speech –– each and every moment a new evolution and development of sound. You will be giving up nothing but gaining everything …
… Your mind will still integrate the nouns, verbs and adjectives spoken by your neighbor. You will still “catch their drift” and reassemble their spoken words into sentences with meaning. But by focusing, with intent, on the moment to moment truth of vocal sounds arising and falling away, by becoming aware of the gaps between words, one can place oneself in the only moment that has ever existed and will ever exist, the Now.
And when you do this, you heal the wound of “time” that separates one from one’s true self and from one another. You heal the illusion of “not enough time” that leads to stress and anxiety.