By Harold Boulette
“To let oneself go, be quiet, receptive, appears to be the condition under which such contact with the Cosmic Life may be obtained. ‘I have noticed that when one paints one should think of nothing: everything then comes better,’ says the young Raphael to Leonardo da Vinci. The superficial self must here acknowledge its own insufficiency, must become the humble servant of a more profound and vital consciousness. The mystics are of the same opinion. ‘Let the will quietly and wisely understand,’ says St. Teresa, ‘that it is not by dint of labor on our part that we can converse to any good purpose with God.’ ‘The best and noblest way in which thou mayst come into this life,’ says Eckhart, ‘is by keeping silent and letting God work and speak.’” ~Evelyn Underhill
Most experts will tell you that one of the biggest difficulties in communicating with others is that we simply don’t listen. We listen only in a very superficial way when someone else is speaking while our minds are occupied with figuring out what we are going to say when it is our turn to speak, or something else about ourselves. We don’t really want to know what the other person has to says, we want to know how it can benefit us. We tend to always put ourselves at the center of everything.
Books that seek to teach people how to speak and motivate other effectively inevitably advise the speaker to make a point of noting to the audience how the subject matter will benefit them. No matter what benefit the speaker may have received from the advice he is sharing, the audience only cares about how it will benefit them and, if the speaker can’t tell them, they label the talk boring or irrelevant. While this is understandable to some degree, think of how much valuable information you may be missing out on because you look at it wearing the blinders of “How does this benefit me?”.
Perhaps even worse, we will often ignore what a person has to say because of their appearance. If the person is not dressed well, or is unattractive, we somehow think they have nothing meaningful to say and miss out again.
This is even more true in spiritual studies than it it in in material ones. When you are learning something about the world of matter, you are working in the realm of ego, of the material brain/mind, and so it has little reason to object or try to block this communication. That is not the case when you start to study the spiritual realms. The ego cannot understand the spiritual, it can’t understand anything that is not physical except in a very abstract and general way, so when you try to study such things, it not only resists, it will often do its best to stop you. It will try to convince you that you have more pressing matter to take care of on the material level. It will try to convince you that spiritual communication is dangerous. It fears that you will ignore it of you start to listen to your soul. It will give you a headache, stomach ache, or make you feel very tired. It won’t let you relax and listen and, if you can’t listen, you can’t communicate effectively with the spiritual levels and the spiritual beings that dwell there.
Some spiritual schools teach that the only way to get around this problem is that the ego must be totally destroyed. That is nearly impossible to do, and ill advised anyway. The person who succeeds in destroying her ego may indeed become very spiritual, but will be totally unable to function in the hectic, dog-eat-dog material world. We need to be able to function in both worlds, at least most of us do, so that is not the path to follow. What we need to to is learn to quiet the ego, to push it into the background (get thee behind me, Satan!) when we are engaging in spiritual activities, but not destroy it. We need to be quiet not just by keeping our mouths shut, but also by keeping the mind quiet. If you have ever tried, you may find it impossible to do, but if you keep practicing, you will eventually succeed, with God’s help. And once your cup (mind) is empty, the great hidden knowledge of the spiritual realms can fill it.
A variation of this article was previously published on the Solar Wind blog.