Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Art of Listening

"All the world is a stage, all men and women merely players, each has his exits and entrances......" truth echoed in the words of author- philosopher William Shakespeare.

All of us are playing our respective roles thus unwinding the tapestry of human life. Born with innate artistic tendencies, the whole life is welcoming us to unlock our inbuilt faculties, prompting us to deliver our monologues,our dialogues and soliloquies, clothing us with our costumes ,guiding us through diverse acts and scenes from prologues to epilogues!

Our first stage,that of a new born baby, untainted by the games of the mind, our art flourishes in full bloom. It is a stage which reflects our true and pure nature, when we can smile, a half moon smile in wrinkles of sleep without any particular reason; a stage when we can listen to the drama around with our whole being , unperturbed by its sounds and furies.Then as a child, still upholding shades of innocence, we plunge on to a deep search, our tiny eyes deciphering every twist and turn, unable to comprehend everything around. We are now transformed into a curious listener, listening with rapt attention to the various stories that unveil the undiscovered and untrodden roads ahead.The gates of adolescence invites us to a maze of mirrors, where we stumble and dash upon our own reflections , confused ,frustrated , puzzled , trying to fix the missing jigsaws. Fully surrendered to the power of the mind, now we are audience to only our own mind drawn conclusions. Surviving the maze now, an adult, a victim of worries and anxieties which wring your neck with spondylitis, a slave of a mind created world. Twilight years, which promised peace and relaxation have left you weak, dragging you back to the immobility of childhood yet unable to smile, the untainted smile of your true self.

The art of listening, an inherent trait in us gets buried and fossilised under the mantle of life. When we listen to someone, we no longer listen to them but only to our own judgements and prejudices which is non stop played in us. We might be physically present, but our thoughts have taken us else where.I remember sitting in my physics class, staring at my teacher but mentally in an Utopian world.

The art of listening also reminds me of an episode in the Indian epic, Mahabaratha. The warrior hero Arjuna is chatting with his pregnant wife Subhadra, speaking to her about certain war strategies he has mastered. Surrounded my enemies from all sides, Arjuna seems to be the only one who could penetrate and successfully exit from the army formation known as
"Chakravyuha". His wife dozes off to sleep, but the unborn baby in her womb is still awake intently listening to his father's interesting stories.When Arjuna finds his wife fast asleep he stops midway and his unborn son, Abhimanyu, is unable to grasp this special technique fully. Abhimanyu turns out to be a great warrior like his father, and in the battle of Kurukshetra,
he is able to enter into this Chakravyuha formation, the result of his listening to his father from his mother's womb. As he was unable to listen to the whole story due to his mother's sleep, he was handicapped in releasing himself successfully from the formation in the battle field and embraces death with honor.

The greatest gift we can give someone is to listen. Let us cultivate this art. When we listen, let us do so with our full being, only then arises true communication. It is not only a gift to others but also a gift to ourselves. I have not yet mastered this art, but I'm sure that it can enhance and enrich the quality of life. So lets practice the art of listening and master the art of living.


indianshawls said...

nice blog

Rajeev S said...

Nandu, you have struck again on a right topic. listening skill is critical for success in every walk of life. Most fights in society can be attributed to people not knowing the other side. Had they listened to the other side, the fight could have been averted. The Buddha has said "At the bottom of things, most people want to be understood and appreciated". Only listening skills can enable people to understand others better. What generally happens is, instead of listening to what is being said to them, people listen to what they are going to say, and prepare for it. This results in people losing the context of what's really happening. For success, listening has to be made a culture. Very thoughtful topic nandu, and your writing is incredible. Looking forward to more...

Cynthia said...

Nanditha, thank you! What a thoughful, sincere and timely post. We're so busy these days that we are losing some of the most important facets of life and living such as listening. Lots of us hear but not many of us listen. I talk to my students about that all the time.

When I finished reading the story I was sad to hear that Abhimanyu dies because he didn't hear the rest of his father's battles :(

Vidhya said...


Lovely post...Isnt it rightly said that the more you listen.. the more you learn? And yes.. Its LISTEN and not HEAR!! I really enjoyed reading through this one.

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comments.

Sindhya Govind said...

A very thoughtful post. I really enjoyed reading it. As 'myvision' rightly said, if people listened to each other, most fights in the society could be thwarted. Listening to the other person will help us to learn about others, understand their feelings and thus you will be able to communicate more effectively to them. Most importantly, you should also listen to yourself, your inner self.

dharmabum said...

it is a world of instant gratification - and listening is a dying trait. sad, but true.

beautiful post.

Bharathy said...

Wow...so beautifully knitted!!the story of abhimanyu with the need of listening skills..Absolutely thought provoking,Nanditha..

Susan said...

So true, so true. We frequently receive others' words through our own filters (and fears) and miss what may well be a valuable perspective. Listening well doesn't mean we have to embrace every different opinion that comes along, but it's an important discipline as a foundation to objectively make those distinctions. Great post, Nanditha.

Priya said...

A good thread. Listening is more important as it enables us to understand how well we ourselves or others undestand each other pretty well. A good listener always wait than someone who only hears.

Bharathy said...

Wow!!! nice of you to add me one among those selcted links,nanditha..Thanx a loot!!!:D..

Nanditha Prabhu said...

India shawls,
thank you for visiting.

my vision,
yes , listening should be made a culture.And most disasters can be averted if we have a keen ear for everything around us.

Cynthia, so you are a teacher? great to know that! A great opportunity to motivate and inspire!

thank you for visiting!Yes there is a lot of difference between "hear" and "listen".

Thank you dear!for your warm comments!

I wish we could revive this dying trait!

thank you!

Thanks Susan,
yes, words first pass through our mind created filters and what we perceive might not be the truth!

welcome! keep visiting... and droping your comments.

Pradeep Nair said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Art of listening is not a gift a number of people have. Sometimes I feel, this world itself would have been a better place if people who mattered also had the inclination to listen.

I have blogrolled you.

harimohan said...

that was a wonderful post ,listening is an art we all have forgotten ( that includes a physician me ,though in palliative care listening is most vital )
an excellent blog