Living into mystery, embracing the questions

If all we bring is "I know this",
we fail to notice a nuance.
Making us a perpetual novice.

In order for us to relate to others in a truly authentic way, we need to quiet our egos and listen without expectation and judgement.

On page 53 of "The Practice of Spiritual Direction" by William Barry and William Connolly, they explain, "to try to contemplate means to try to let the other be himself or herself or itself, to try to be open to surprise and newness, to try to let one's responses be elicited by the reality of the other.

In "Just Use This Mind", Master Miao Tsan, demonstrates how the mind creates our "reality."  On page 161 he states, "new ideas are interpreted through past experiences, so the mind continues to operate under its old pattern, which makes it difficult to learn and change."

In the NAMI Family to Family (National Alliance on Mental Illness) class on empathy, we learn that empathy is "the intimate comprehension of another person's thoughts and feelings without imposing our own judgement or expectations."

Dr. Kerley talks of open and honest questions being questions that we don't already have an answer to or that do not lead the other in any direction.

I've been catching myself zoning out when I am really interested in what the other is saying. My brain starts developing a response that gives an illustration of how I have experienced the same or some other anecdote that basically says I understand. What I am realizing is that I keep missing an opportunity to learn more about why the topic is important to the other, what can I learn from this encounter, are they looking for more than validation they may get from an anecdote I could share?  If what I am trying to do is show empathy by relating how I've had similar experiences, it is more empathetic for me to just listen, and especially not jump ahead or have any expectations about what I am hearing.

When learning how to quiet my ego and listen, I can open doors to deeper understanding and knowledge. I've been practicing Contemplative Prayer for a while now but it is just beginning to teach me that listening the same way to myself and others is an extension of this prayer.