Tag Archives: Larry Baker

Quote of the Day – February 20 2012

“Effective listeners remember that “words have no meaning – people have meaning.” The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we often misinterpret each other’s messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved.”
–Larry Baker

Well, I believe words do have meaning. Still, I agree with L Baker that you need to listen not only to the words but beyond the words to the heart that speaks them. Not just listen with your ears but listen to your heart. This has been a lesson long in coming to me. Funny thing is that the clues and pieces were there all the time. My favourite story that of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant that I’ve used a lot to illustrate how everybody has part of the truth is all about what happens when people WON’T listen to each other.

Blind Men and the Elephant
poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the ElephantIs very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘Tis clear enough the ElephantIs very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

If those ‘wise’ men had only listened with compassionate hearts to each other, they might have figured out they all had a part of the same thing. Too often we focus on the part of what someone else says that we most want or expect to hear, so if the person is someone whom we have problems with (and we all know those people, usually they are the ones who manage to tell us what we most need to hear in a way we just DON’T want to hear it, then what we hear will cause us problems. We may look for the insult in their words. If they say something that disagrees with our most cherished beliefs than we may very well feel ourselves insulted. I know I have.
Sometimes when an idea of ours has been challenged, we feel exposed and vulnerable, The Emperor who’s new clothes so fine that only the wisest of sages can see it has actually been tricked into walking around naked. How dare they? Yet if we listen, we hear that that is not so at all, we have not been insulted, our clothes are there (tho there is much to be said for being comfortable with nakedness and vulnerability), just a belief has been challenged. Can we refute the challenge, either through our thoughts or through research? Perhaps or possibly we may learn something new. We may come out of the conversation with clearer understanding than we entered it. I know that for me there has been many a time where that has been the case. But only when I listened. Blessings, G

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The Compassionate Heart Listens by G A Rosenberg