Tower of Babel

Shhhh…listen.  There is one word that can improve all of our lives immediately:  communication.  It begins with listening.  It takes patience, and courage, to live in the quiet space of listening to understand.  It is a discipline.  It is not easy to let go of entrenched habits, our words and demeanor are tools of self protection…but we are sunk when we use them as weapons.  Who is brave enough to become an active listener — and hear what’s being said?

The ancient story of the Tower of Babel offers one explanation for the linguistic and cultural differences of the human race and the subsequent conflicts arising in the “confusion of tongues”.  The city of Babel united humanity with one language. In time, humility and reverence were lost. In their vain glory the people began to construct a tower that would reach heaven to show their power.  In their arrogant and egocentric behavior, they began to fight with one another.

The tower of power manifested the worst of human traits. God was fairly miffed at the mess the people had made, and  took away their ability to communicate by creating different languages.  The communication button was reset…everyone had to begin again. People disbursed across the earth, split into separate factions. Instead of learning cooperation, all communication broke down,  conflict and chaos ensued.  And here we are, in modern times, where it seems we are still harvesting those bitter fruits.

In Chinese philosophy, shin, the word for mind, is represented by the character for heart. In Taoist & Zen thought this means higher awareness comes from thinking holistically, encompassing logic and emotions.  We need to talk — and we need to listen. With intelligence, with compassion.  Our dear friend, Maria Seddio, at Corp Talk, teaches the mantra: “conversation is the cure”. Simple, but not simplistic. Healing will only come through a calm, compassionate and rational discourse.

Here are some tips for you.  Start with the next voice you hear:

  • Be clear in what you say.
  • Let it be more of a dialogue, and less of a monologue.
  • Honor the other person. Really hear what is being said, don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
  • Don’t make judgments about a person or a situation based on limited information. Even better, don’t judge.
  • A solipsistic world view is a closed system. Expand your consciousness: let go of your “truth”.
  • Listen, listen, listen.

The world is in crisis.  Do you have the courage to communicate?  Listen, and speak, as if your life depended on it. It does.

The aim of better listening is not to hear more,
but to hear more clearly,
especially the call toward consciousness.
~David Hykes

Toni Tan

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In her new book, Healing The Sacred Divide, Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World, Dr Jean Raffa takes us deep into the place where two circles overlap, an ancient symbol of healing and wholeness. This is the space where we intersect, you and me, your ego and my ego, your masculine, my feminine, your country and my country, your religion and my religion. It is the mandorla, an almond shaped contact point where the overlap has the potential to expand. The the greater it grows, the smaller the divide. Closing the gap is the opening of doors.