The Power of Listening
September 25, 2012
Jobs were scarce during the worldwide depression in the 1930s. In a small Midwest town in the United States the telegraph office announced they’d be hiring a new telegraph operator. On the day of the interview, sixty hopeful men packed the waiting room. To relieve their tension, most of the job applicants joked and chattered loudly with one another. One man, however, sat quietly alone near the office door.
Suddenly the quiet man stood up and walked into the office. A few minutes later, the office manager came to the door and announced, “Thank you all for coming today. We have hired someone for the job.”
Why was the quiet man hired?
While the other men were talking, the office manager had tapped out in Morse code, “If you hear this message, come in and accept the job.” Only one man was calm enough to hear the message.
Paramhansa Yogananda was once asked why his most advanced disciple, Rajarshi Janakananda, progressed so quickly on the spiritual path. Yogananda replied, “He knows how to listen.”
Listening brings attunement; Swami Kriyananda has defined attunement as harmony. Meditation is one of the few human activities where one isn’t imposing his will on the environment. As one progresses in his meditation practice, he feels a growing sense of soaring self-offering to God.
When the great woman saint Anandamayi Ma met Swami Kriyananda and other disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, she was pleased to see how soft and open they were. True discipleship, Swami Kriyananda once said, makes one receptive to all of life—even a tree.
The disciple who constantly listens is always learning and expanding his consciousness. There is an amusing story about President Teddy Roosevelt, who was a great man and did a lot of wonderful things for the United States. But he also had a big energy and always wanted to be the center of attention.
Teddy Roosevelt planned to go hunting in Africa once his presidency ended. Hearing that a famous English big-game hunter was in the United States, Teddy wanted to meet him to learn about Africa. They eventually met in the President’s office for a two-hour conference. As the dazed Englishman was leaving, a curious reporter asked the famous hunter, “What did you tell the president?” The exhausted visitor replied, “I told him my name.”
Teddy Roosevelt’s need to put himself forward prevented him from learning about hunting in Africa.
Calming the emotions leads to love and communion with higher realities. Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The calmer you grow, the more you will see the reflection of the universe within you.” All good things come from stillness, and in sustained stillness, deep listening is possible.
Listening is sincerity. The mind and will are powerful forces; one’s energy naturally flows toward the object of his concentration. When the yogi concentrates on God, the yogi’s whole being moves toward the Blessed One and invites His loving response.
May your yearning for God draw you quickly to Him.
In divine friendship,