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The Art of Listening

Café-Salon Philosophique #48

November 20, 1999

No. of Participants: 10

Evening's Topic: "The Art of Listening"

Samuel started the evening's discussion with a couple of thought-provoking questions, "Do we know how to listen?" "How many of us are able to fully listen with our eyes and ears at the same time?"

"There is a BIG difference between hearing and listening," someone said. Hearing can be selective. We hear what we want to hear, and form our own opinions. Listening is the Art of giving FULL attention to the one who is "thinking and talking out loud."

Many times, we are so busy forming thoughts and ideas in our own heads, about what we want to say, that we don't listen to what the speaker is saying.

The first question for the evening was, "What is listening?" Damien began with saying, "Listening is reflecting the what is." "What someone says gives me a reference point for comprehending and forming my own ideas and opinions."

Samuel says, "If we are a good listener, we understand what the person is trying to tell us." Jeff acknowledged that he has a hard time "silencing his brain" long enough to fully listen to what somebody is saying. He tries to "push his self out of the way" in order to hear what others are saying. He tries to "catch himself from thinking while he is listening."

Carl believes he is an open-minded listener and tries not to "jump to conclusions" and tries to forego "judgements" about what one is trying to say.

Samuel then asked, "What do we listen with?" Carl answered, "Of course our ears!" Samuel asked, "Why do we listen just with our ears?" Is it possible that we could listen with other parts of our body?

Mary agreed with Carl. She tries to "move her self out of the way to listen;" and like Damien, "uses what people are saying as reference points for thinking about her own perspectives for speaking on a subject."She says she worries about, "What am I gonna say? How am I going to say it?" She becomes anxious when it gets close to her turn to speak. She thinks there are other areas of the body for listening. For example, she "listens with her heart."

Samuel says, "listening can get smeared by our conditioning as humans." He then asked, "How many of us listen to our selves?"

Frank commented that it is possible, "If one can empty the mind of words and thoughts, then the body is alive and able to listen to others." Damien admitted that he doesn't "listen to him self." He finds that he "dreams up nonsense." He tries to "empty his head" by writing it down on paper, sometimes not trying to make sense of it.

Carl doesn't listen to the self in a group. He feels that one needs alot of time and space alone in order to learn about the self. He says that he does reflect and realize what he "should have listened to." "One has to be very honest with the self in order to hear." Hal differentiated between hearing and listening. He said, "hearing is a mechanical process, listening is understanding the meaning of what the self and others are trying to communicate."

Samuel then asked, "Can you be blank?" "Blankness is a natural way. It's the spiritual state of being in "wonder " as if one were a small child.

"What is the difference between listening and hearing?" Samuel asked. Jeff said, "You can't shut off the ears." They still hear. The eyes you can open and close at will. If you close your eyes, you can go beyond the surface. It takes honesty and effort to look beyond the superficial.

"Fear is what keeps us from being honest. We use it as a mask. We worry about, "What if" something happens? We fear the subconscious, we learn not to trust our own thought processes. We are conditioned to suppress or depress new ways of thinking by using anger or fear."

Samuel has observed that when people don't like something, they tend to "brush it under the table" and don't want to "face it" at the moment. We "tune out" and don't listen. We use our emotions to protect the self. And from what? Our self!

Damien says, "Fear is a mask." "It allows you to deny anything." "It is a pretense."

Jeff then read the "Fish Story." Mary finds at times she is like the fish. She fears seeing her self, which keeps her from exploring the big, vast ocean. She feels like the "fish who is biting her own tail." She would like to "explore" below the surface.

Hal says, "knowing and understanding" eliminates fear.

Samuel says when we don't understand, we "declare war." His performance piece, "Black and White" which can be seen on his video - "The Silent Outcry - The Life and Times of Samuel Avital, reflects the "inner struggle" between the two sides of ALL of our selves."

"People tend to create problems where none exist." We have a choice to listen or not. We can continue in denial or fear if we so choose to do so. Many people are uncomfortable with change. We have a tendency to breakdown and destroy so that we can remain "secure."

We are not taught how to REALLY listen to what others are saying, let alone our selves.

The next Café meeting will be held December 4, 1999 at The Boulder Bookstore, 1107 Pearl St., Boulder, CO. Start time is 6:30 p.m. Bring an interesting topic. Invite your friends!

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."


- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

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About LCDS

LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.