TRUE LISTENING IS WORSHIP
With the sense of hearing, we listen to creation. One of the great thresholds in reality is the threshold between sound and silence. All good sounds have silence near them, behind and within them. The first sound that every human hears is the sound of the mother’s heartbeat in the dark waters of the womb. This is the reason for our ancient resonance with the drum as a musical instrument. The sound of the drum brings us consolation because it brings us back to that time when we were at one with the mother’s heartbeat. That was a time of complete belonging. No separation had yet opened; we were completely in unity with another person. P. J. Curtis, the great Irish authority on rhythm and blues music, often says that the search for meaning is really the search for the lost chord. When the lost chord is discovered by humankind, the discord in the world will be healed and the symphony of the universe will come into complete harmony with itself.
It is lovely to have the gift of hearing. It is said that deafness is worse than blindness, because you are isolated in an inner world of terrible silence. Even though you can see people and the world around you, to be outside the reach of sound and the human voice is very lonely. There is a very important distinction to be made between listening and hearing. Sometimes we listen to things, but we never hear them. True listening brings us in touch even with that which is unsaid and unsayable. Sometimes the most important thresholds of mystery are places of silence. To be genuinely spiritual is to have great respect for the possibilities and presence of silence. Martin Heidegger say that true listening is worship. When you listen with your soul, you come into rhythm and unity with the music of the universe. Through friendship and love, you learn to attune your self to the silence, to the threshold of mystery where your life enters the life of your beloved and their life enters yours.
Poets are people who become utterly dedicated to the threshold where silence and language meet. One of the crucial tasks of the poet’s vocation is to find his own voice. When you begin to write, you feel you are writing fine poetry; then you read other poets only to find that they have already written similar poems. You realize that you were unconsciously imitating them. It takes a long time to sift through the more superficial voices of you own gift in order to enter into the deep signature and tonality of your Otherness. When you speak from that deep, inner voice, you are really speaking from the unique tabernacle of your own presence. There is a voice within you which no-one, not even you, has ever heard. Give yourself the opportunity of silence and begin to develop your listening in order to hear, deep within yourself, the music of your own spirit.
Music is after all the most perfect sound to meet the silence. When you really listen to music, you begin to hear the beautiful way it constellates and textures the silence, how it brings out the hidden mystery of silence. The gentle membrane where sound meets silence becomes deftly audible. Long before humans arrived on earth, there was an ancient music here. Yet one of the most beautiful gifts that humans have brought to the earth is music. In great music the ancient longing of the earth finds a voice. The wonderful conductor Sergiu Celibidache said, ‘We do not create music; we only create the conditions so that she can appear.’ Music ministers to the silence and solitude of nature; it is one of the most powerful, immediate and intimate of sensuous experiences. Music is, perhaps, the art form that brings us closest to the eternal because it changes immediately and irreversibly the way we experience time. When we are listening to beautiful music, we enter into the eternal dimensions of time. Transitory, broken linear time fades away and we come into the circle of belonging within the eternal. The Irish writer Sean O’Faolain said, ‘In the presence of great music we have no alternative but to live nobly.’