A while ago I visited some friends in Haarlem, The Netherlands. By chance, I was invited to an open meeting one evening where everyone was encouraged to share their understanding of living a spiritual life – or some similar topic. I was curious, since the format was a little similar to the Aurora Gatherings we coordinate here in the UK.
About a dozen or more of us sat in a circle. Someone began talking and very soon both newcomers and regulars participated in the conversation. Now, my Dutch is not so good, I can just about ask for the peanut butter and say ‘thank you’ but that’s about my limit. As for following deeply profound discussions about the passage of the soul through Life and death… well, actually, I have to admit here that I kept losing the thread until I the next time I heard a familiar word or two. After about twenty minutes my concentration was floundering. I wondered what to do.
I had noticed some people seemed to be clearer while others just seemed to lose me as soon as they opened their mouths. I was confused since I could not distinguish the difference in their vocabulary with the others that I could just about follow.
It was a nice atmosphere, so I thought I’d just appreciate their collective presence and not worry about missing the meaning of their words. It occured to me to go the whole hog and disconnect my ears and stop listening for words and instead listen to how my heart was responding to the conversation.
I was bowled over.
A soon as I turned off the stream of unfamiliar sounds which were all but meaningless to me, I could easily turn inwards and ‘listen’ to the feelings in my heart as they spoke.
It was a lightbulb moment.
What had seemed like a dull and hazy black and white picture with muffled sound suddenly turned into a vivid, full-colour with dolby sound surround experience. When each person spoke my heart responded accordingly. Some spoke sincerely and earnestly about the matter in hand, but my heart only heard a faint whisper of reality conveyed. When others simply spoke from their hearts my heart sang or glowed in response.
I soon discerned that while the words may have been similar, my heart told me immediately if the words ‘rang true’ to their hearts and experiences or whether someone was parroting from what they had learned in books or had absorbed from other’s spoken words.
I was fascinated how simply by switching over to listening to my heart responses, gave me a totally different perception of the world. I could immediately discern how in touch each person was to their inner reality or how caught up others were with the world of intellectual concepts and beliefs and had forgotten to keep in touch with how their hearts felt as they spoke.
So, for the rest of the evening my heart ‘sang’ or waited patiently for the next person to finish talking from their intellect.
This experience was not hard to do, it was simply that it had never occured to me not to listen with my ears before. Try it for yourself sometime when you hear a foreign language being spoken and listen to how your heart feels to their conversation.