The need for control seems to be a lifelong battle and struggle for many of us. We look upon the actions of others and indeed our own actions with the eye of judgment; ever watchful that we do what in our minds we perceive as being right. when we do not act in accordance with our point of view of was right, we then feel guilt, propelling us into a cycle of negative behaviour.
It is much easier to point our lens of focus – our lens of judgment – toward the actions of others. This ease of looking at others as opposed to ourselves is the initial, natural supposition in the way we view life, as one of course cannot look at their own eye with their own eye. And so we look at others. Indeed we only know ourselves by how we know and what we know, from others. Everything which enters into the eye and to the mind creates our perception of truth, reality, and who we are.
But there still seems to be something, some pervasive voice telling us that what we see is not how life should be. There are socially agreed upon notions of morality and proper behaviour which we learn in early childhood, demanding that we judge the world outside of thinking skull. In conversations of religious, political, or scientific topics we listen to what a person is saying to determine whether or not we agree or disagree. But what they are saying is not what we agree or disagree with; rather, our own interpretation of their words is what we are attempting to reach a conclusion towards. And so we are not really listening to them at all but to ourselves – to our own chatter in the skull.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Master with great insight into “deep listening”:
In our interactions with one another, how can we truly listen to what each other is saying? How can we pause our judgments in order to more deeply investigate, inquire, and truly hear what another is saying? I might even go so far as to say that we may never reach a point of making a judgment about what another human being has said, unless we only hear what they superficially are saying. Conversation is a lifelong relational journey we take with one another. If our initial inclination is to make a judgment about what another says, let us ask ourselves, what is important?
Is it important that I let them know my judgment, my conclusion about what they have said according to my own interpretation, or is it important that I investigate what they think with them?
Is it more important that I do not judge, but place myself in their shoes to understand what they are saying as we learn from one another?