Why is it so hard to listen deeply? The answer is rather simple … our ego-mind inserts itself into all of our activities. So when we listen, we filter what we hear through our ego-minds. Because our mind is thinking about what we are listening to, our perceptions, opinion, etc. are brought to bear and so although we hear the spoken words, we really don’t hear what the person is saying, the deeper meaning of what he’s saying.
And because we don’t listen deeply, or in a real sense at all, what we say in response to what was said to us is often not truly responsive or helpful at all. Indeed, it can often be quite irritating to the original speaker because he feels from the response that he hasn’t really been heard or listened to.
Obviously this is not a good situation. So how do we go about learning to listen deeply, which means free of our ego-mind?
I have to be honest and say that I am still struggling with this. One reason why this is so much more difficult than freeing ourselves in other ways from our ego is that listening doesn’t usually agitate us, so there’s no red flag that tells us that our ego is active and we need to take a breath or chant to break its hold. Turning my will and my life over to my true Buddha nature and embracing all aspects of my being and experience, while effectively removing the catalyst for emotions arising has not brought me to a point where I routinely listen deeply free of my ego.
I am aware of the “problem” and that certainly helps. I meditate on this, imagining situations and being aware how I can respond mindfully, not from my ego. And this has helped. But I have a long way to go. Short of a lobotomy, I don’t have an answer yet! All I can say is that it’s important to be aware what an important issue this is in having good communication, whether within the family or the workplace. And that good communication is vital to peace and happiness.