Memorabilia: Just Listen

This is a photo of a  quote taped on a friend’s favorite spot, her desk.

We read it so many times, make up meanings and meanings change depending in our moods.  For most time we make fun out of it.

Just listen

An ant goes round and round without
rest
Like all beings in the six realms of
existence,
Born here and dying there without
release,
Now becoming a hungry ghost, then
an animal.
If you are searching for freedom from
this suffering
You must hear the sound of one hand.

These are still resonant words.
Take a break from the clamorous rat
race of modern life.

Just listen.

She was searching for freedom from suffering is the focal point of this quote.  Freedom means death.  And we both just listened for it to come.  And it did come for her and I did not hear it coming.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  Well, it’s actually a sign for the deaf.  You raise your hand or hands and start shaking them up in the air.  This is how the deaf clap their hands. No sound.

This is how it is

sunday snippet

As my prayer become more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.

–Søren Kierkegaard, quoted by Joachim Berendt in “The Third Ear,” translated by Tim Nevill (Shaftsbury, England: Element Books, 1988).

Wisdom from our summer 1990 issue on attention |Parabola Magazine
Photo Credit: Randy P. Martin