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The Listener

The listener is a false intruder. Real listening is done with an open heart and all-encompassing attention.

By Ilie Cioara
Translated by Petrica Verdes

The Poem

Each person carries within himself a cunning listener:

An arrogant intruder, annoying and nagging;

His presence obstructs listening, which is purity,

Complete understanding, clear serenity.

When real listening occurs, the whole being is passive,

Attentive, perfectly open, silent therefore inactive;

There are no expectations, nothing to be accomplished,

In its wholeness ‒ alert listening.

Is it really possible to experience such a state?

You will find the answer within yourselves, after persistent attempts;

Do not despair at any time, for in each of us are written

Endless possibilities ‒ clear, certain and precise.

Entertain no doubts, put your whole energy

Into this crucial achievement. Do not reject

Anything you hear. Encounter everything

With an open being - be one with what you listen to!

If what you hear is false, the false does not affect you;

It passes you by, it does you no harm.

If what you hear is the Truth, in that Sublime moment,

The wall of the “self” is pierced ‒ in you, there is a moment of light.

By persevering in listening, the old man starts to crumble

And one day ‒ a surprise day ‒ all mysteries are revealed;

When the individual is liberated, he attains Immensity,

The Supreme realization ‒ being one with Totality.

A natural question appears: How does the listener come to exist?

How does he create an erroneous way of listening?

He is, in fact, a fiction, which appears automatically

From the thought processes of the personal “self”.

Notice how the listener becomes self-important

And regards the world with disdain and arrogance.

Behold, someone is speaking. He immediately barges in

Distorting every meaning. Listening stops.

When there is a listener who criticizes and accuses,

The individual listens to the self and acts through the self.

The connection is broken, each encounter is empty,

Thus it is impossible to reach Truth or Love.

Knowing this, another question follows:

How can we escape from its influence?

Every time it appears ‒ encounter it

With a total attention, without any imaginary purpose.

This silent meeting dissolves it, totally,

What is left is pure listening, integrated in the present;

Listening ‒ watching are not different from one another,

They operate the same way ‒ in every circumstance of life.

The Commentary

In order to explain more clearly what the “listener” is, we will first discuss listening, as it can be associated with watching and tackled in the same manner.

The right listening is performed through the unconditional passiveness of the mind, with our heart and being completely open. We don't anticipate any ideals and, therefore, there arc no expectations to fulfill any result.

This article is reprinted from the book The Silence of the Mind.

The lucid, all-encompassing and spontaneous Attention is the only instrument offering the possibility to correctly make this experience. Intellectually, it is easy both to explain and understand listening.

Yet, practicing this simple non-action can encounter several difficulties which, with a little persistence, can be easily overcome. Each individual has the capability to completely fulfill this psychological attitude, absolutely necessary in the adventure of knowing our own being.

Therefore, we listen and watch, with our full attention, both the movement of the external world as well as the world of thoughts, images, emotions etc. The simplicity of the contact with everything we hear or see creates the passiveness of the mind.

In this state of stillness, the whole being, in perfect oneness, in a timeless state, watches, listens and understands perfectly, by living experience, without creating any memory baggage. Through understanding, transforming action stems spontaneously and undermines the authority of the personal ego.

Let us mention an example of listening which is deeply significant. Here we are, for instance, listening to someone who talks and talks ‒ mentioning all kinds of miscellaneous facts: good or bad, real or imaginary facts, truth and lies, according to the programming of the person's mind. All of these flow through us, like the water of a river, without any obstacles. It is a simple way of listening: the mind, attentive and lucid, is in a state of passiveness. The real, true things determine us to live them and feel their reality. The untrue, false things pass through us without affecting us in any way.

Let us come back to the subject of this poem: the listener.

In the moment, as the challenge of life demands a state of attention from us, an intruder appears! This intruder analyzes, judges, interprets according to his own knowledge, accumulated through culture, experiences, past events etc. Therefore this apparition ‒ the listener ‒ in a ceaseless activity, makes listening impossible. Fueled by old experiences and knowledge, through interpretation it distorts the newness and freshness of life in constant change from one moment to another.

Because of this undesirable intrusion, we are unable to encounter the beauty of the aliveness in its eternal movement, nor creative Love with its priceless riches.

Also because of this unwanted fiction, we are not able to encounter happiness without any cause, to which, consciously or unconsciously, each inhabitant of planet Earth aspires.

A natural question follows: What do we need to do in order to get out of this dead-end situation? Nothing or almost nothing! Completely identified with the flame of attention, we just listen to and watch the movement of this fiction, without pursuing any goal or any purpose.

This simple meeting with the annoying intruder spontaneously disintegrates it, without leaving any traces. In thepsychological void that presently ensues, we are attracted into the Sphere of the Absolute, we become one and melt with it, thus discovering the divine reality of our being.

But let us explain this subject from a different angle.

“Self-knowing” is set into motion by the reactions of the conditioned mind, under the name of listener or knower. When faced with the flame of attention, this intruder dissolves instantly. In the void thus created, all that remains is all-encompassing pure listening or pure watching. In this circumstance, we manifest ourselves as a state of pure Consciousness, without cause and timeless.

This article is reprinted from the book The Silence of the Mind.
Text copyright © 2011 Ilie Cioara, Pretrica Verdes.

Photo by Michelle Valberg.

Ilie Cioara (1916‒2004) was a Christian mystic who lived in Romania. He wrote 16 books.

Related reading on this site


Ilie Cioara, The Silence of the Mind

The Silence of the Mind

By Ilie Cioara

Let me start this review by saying the same thing everyone else has said about this book who's had a good look at it: it’s excellent. The depth of seeing that the author had was tremendous. One of the problems in Nonduality today is that the language has become so common that it fails to surprise or shock us into hearing what is really being said. It’s not so easy to bypass the truth with these poems. It’s the opportunity to really HEAR something ancient in a fresh way. —Fred Davis

See it on Amazon.

This page was published on September 6, 2016.


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