Archive for the 'hearing' Category


April 7, 2014

I think self-consciousness gets in the way of our clear hearing of internal guidance, of the voice within.  I think those among us who are the least self-conscious may hear the most clearly.

On the other hand, such people may lack the ability to communicate to others what they hear.

Does it matter if they can’t?

It matters if they have difficulty communicating with others if they can’t get their needs met, it matters not at all if they can’t communicate to others their spiritual perceptions — they are for them, after all.

Somebody long ago cottoned onto this phenomenon and decided to try to find that point at which spiritual insight and human communication are as symmetrical as possible.  He wanted to hear the insights he couldn’t have.  (And yes, this is one of my “spiritual stories.”)

He thought he could be helpful (and powerful) by sharing the insights.  Instead he succeeded in accomplishing something else, and that is our world today.

Filling an empty space

November 21, 2013

There’s a phenomenon that occurs with some people who develop substantial hearing loss in which their brains create the experience of sounds internally, apparently because there’s a dearth of externally produced sound to process.  I think the sounds are often repetitive and sing-song, if not song-like.

I think a parallel phenomenon can occur with people who have lost a substantial amount of vision.

I’m wondering whether people who lose their short term memory do a version of this, too, and we categorize it under “dementia.”  An elderly person may forget the initial reason for a task or the next steps that were to be taken in the course of completing that task, not realize they’ve forgotten those past facts, and instead come up with a new task involving the papers in front of them on their desk (for example), to fill the “gap” of what they are supposed to be doing.  The lack of awareness may be “dementia,” but if looked at in a more detailed way, it may look less like a kind of “craziness” and more like a combination of memory loss, lack of awareness of that loss, and a tendency to try to fill gaps creatively.


November 19, 2013

I am deaf in one ear.  It’s a conduction loss.  My parents’ hearing loss is/was a nerve loss.  And while they eventually conceded they don’t/didn’t hear so well, they have belonged to the school of thought that everybody is mumbling.

I will note that even standing face to face with them, everything has had to be said (loudly) at least twice, for years.

But my mother has noted two exceptions to the “everybody’s mumbling” claim:  Hari Sreenivasan and Kwame Holman on the PBS NewsHour.  She says she can understand every word they say.

Teaching people to listen

October 22, 2013

I was reading Richard Rohr this morning, as in, his Daily Meditation, and I even clicked through to read Mark 16.

What I hear is an attempt to get people to listen.

I don’t disagree with trying to get people to listen.  You just got to make sure they listen to what needs listening to and not get hung up on the teacher or the conduit.  Some people who hear, hear a lot of different things from a lot of different sources.  Psychism is not spirituality, but neither is all spirituality psychism or a solipsistic product of the imagination.  So what or whom we are listening to is an important consideration, as is the consideration of how what we hear is affected by our own flaws.

Technological puzzles

October 20, 2013

So I just submitted a comment to a New York Times analysis of the current intra-party dynamics of the Republican Party between Tea Party conservatives and establishment conservatives.

Plink, I receive the email that the comment has been published, and since I’m a Verified commenter, this is plausible.  So I refresh the page and it’s not there.  I’ve noticed that before, that there can be a lag in actually putting the comment online.  That didn’t puzzle me.

But here’s what did:  when I went to my comment through the link in my email, the comment had already been recommended.  So I tried accessing the comments two other ways besides refreshing, and I still couldn’t see mine, which by then had a second recommend.

I don’t understand who can see the comment and how.

But it does remind me of when people don’t hear what they are putting out there even when other people can perceive it.

Postscript:  Someone just suggested to me it could be mirroring of that phenomenon of when I unwittingly pick up some language or imagery from a Times piece I have yet to actually read — people with earlier access to something others (here, me) cannot yet see.

unposted comment

September 20, 2013

I got around to trying to post a reply to a comment I made to T.M. Luhrmann’s “The Violence in Our Heads” on too late for it to be included, so I’ll put it here.

Maybe your guard is lower when you engage in those activities, so you hear more.

I would say there is more to hearing things internally than just hearing “voices” such as one hears from external sources.  Here are some examples, off the top of my head and not including more controversial categories like ghosts, spirit guides, angels, and past lives:

Sometimes there’s insight that just wells up from inside.  I think some people call that gnosis.

Sometimes there’s a comforting thought that does not seem to be one’s own.  When I was in pre-term labor, I got a clear message not to think this was something I was doing but that it was something happening to both the baby and me.  A conscious thought one way or the other on that topic had not entered my thinking at the time, I was too much in that numb crisis mode.  It wasn’t a voice, it wasn’t my own thought, it felt like it came from others as guidance.

And there are also artifacts of poor hearing or sight, in which the brain seems to create sounds or sights because of a dearth of real input.

So we could, if we discussing the topic of hearing things more thoroughly, probably come up with a taxonomy of things heard internally, including voices.

Hearing or knowing

March 14, 2013

I think adults are counseled not to confuse children by using the analogy of going to sleep for dying — makes some kids scared to go to sleep.  I’m thinking that using “hearing” for how we pick up internal guidance may be a similarly counterproductive misnomer.

If I’m getting guidance from somewhere significant, it comes to me as “knowing” — I don’t actually “hear” something internally.  The thing may make little sense to me — as in, bringing my checkbook with me on that errand, and then while I’m running the errand, something unpredicted presents itself for which having the checkbook is really handy — but I understand I should do it.  (I could also refuse, of course.)  Hearing my own thoughts, or even someone else’s, sounds different.  (Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to be able to hear other people’s thoughts, but here’s an example, maybe I’ve used it before.  I was at a concert, sitting in the way back, and the opening act was on stage.  And while I did notice it was going on for longer than opening acts usually do in such a venue, I started hearing this thought, “Who does she think she is?  She ‘s acting like she’s the main event, in her stage manner as well as the length of her set …  I guess you can sing like that but why would you want to? She’s so young …  What is it she’s wearing?  I guess that’s a look …”  It went on.  It really wasn’t in accord with what I was feeling — which was more like, “She playing a lot of songs and I really did come to hear the main act” — more simple, succinct, and superficial. Then I turned my head, and standing against the back wall a few feet away from me was the main act herself.  And I thought, “Well, if those are her thoughts, she’s hides her negativity well in her performance persona.”)  Once I was in a health foods store and I heard “selenium,” so I asked the clerk about selenium, and it actually seemed suitable for me at the time.  I’m not sure I even knew what selenium was before that.  So thoughts I would say I “hear” as words;  guidance wells up as an idea or concept, an “understanding” or perception.  At least, that’s how I would describe the two different phenomena.

Guidance wells up when I’m quiet inside.  If I’m rushing around or thinking constantly about to-do lists, I’m not in a frame of mind to notice a perception.  They tend to well up when I’m walking, when I’m showering, when I wake up briefly in the middle of the night, when I go up to my study in the attic (which is not visited by many people other than myself).  And when I pray.  But I also get what some people call spam, apparently because I take in stuff at lots of levels and through lots of apertures.  I’ve been advised that a well-trained person doesn’t do that, they focus on their inner core and take in information, and only information (not the emotional window dressing), and through a high aperture.

I ask for guidance, but I also just am pretty open to it much of the time.  But if I’m angry, I am also not in a frame of mind to notice a perception.  A discreet and passing eruption of anger isn’t a problem, but if I’m feeling constantly irritated, that gets in the way.  Intermingling with irritated people can be an impediment here.  I do try to clear myself of that sort of thing, but I have developed a healthy respect for hermits — it’s sometimes a lot easier just to be alone.

So maybe the concept of “hearing guidance” needs to be put into less confusing language, so people realize I’m talking about concepts and ideas that may then be put into words (or not), not sentences of words, or individual words, to be parsed.  And that I don’t “hear” them, they well up and I discover that now I know something I wasn’t aware of before.

Let me just close by saying that I am thinking I need an equivalent to Paul Krugman’s warning on his blog that a post may be “wonkish” (or slightly wonkish) — because I suspect some of my posts on subjects like this one are received by some with skepticism, an eye-roll, or worse, and I’d like to have a way of acknowledging that such posts may not be for everybody.  But I also feel a responsibility to put them out there nonetheless, even if they put some people off.  I think we need to broaden our sense of what’s “normal,” kind of like Our Bodies, Ourselves did for female health and related issues years ago.


Variations on “No”

January 10, 2013

I was thinking of that Paul Simon song about “fifty ways to leave your lover.”  My thoughts were probably not about the concept as it was intended to be understood by the songwriter, because in my case the person wants to pretend he is not saying no.

I was thinking about how a person can say no, not like the consequences of saying no, and then try multiple times to try to dress that “no” up so that it doesn’t look like a no.

I was also reminded of the song about Tam Lin and how Janet is warned that he will transform into a series of monsters but she should not to pay them any mind and to just hold on to him.  This series of no’s feels like a series of monsters.

I could try pointing out to my interlocutor this perception of mine that he is just saying no in a variety of ways, and that to the extent that that is a problem for anybody, that problem still remains.  I could explain that I don’t have to pretend that his rationalizations somehow go to the core of his declining, but he can so decline if he wants to — I have no power over that (or, for that matter, over its consequences).  I could point out that the consequences of a “no” will still remain, regardless of how he dresses it up, that what he is really looking for is that I accept his version of what has happened between us, which I don’t.  And I could reiterate that I heard his “no” the first time, that I accepted it then, and remind him that I even wished him well.  That, to me, is enough for my part.

I haven’t heard anything different since.

If he wanted to withdraw the no and substitute a positive response, that would be a horse of a different color.  I would hear the difference, but even more important, I would be hearing from him without the current smokescreen of ambiguity.  Ambiguity, or a disjunction between words and deeds, is not the same thing as a third path or finding middle ground acceptable to both parties.  It strikes me, actually, as a mistaken attempt to resolve dualism through the ego (and an ego that does not put itself in other people’s shoes) instead of through a higher form of apprehension.


January 7, 2013

I think I’m one of those.  Actually, I think we all are, whether we’re effective at being one or not.  I think we are conduits for forces we are only dimly aware of.  Sometimes the forces mix with us and what comes out is, for example, art, sometimes it is addictive behavior or even psychosis, sometimes theoretical physics, sometimes a combination of things, including a combination of useful and destructive things.

What I have thought vaguely for a while is that I can hear some interesting things that I could never have thought of, and that I can translate them into words and try to communicate them to other people.  I want to let those interesting things come through into the world — they are more helpful than what I could come up with through my intellect.

What I think I’ve spent years doing is cleaning out my apparatus, the conduit apparatus within me.  I think someone had used it for relationships and acquiring stuff and influencing people according to what that someone wanted.  I think it had been developed well enough to do that, and that it was kind of like this person finding someone else’s fully loaded laptop and using it to pick up girls and pay off lobbyists.  It got kind of corroded and bent by being used for personal gain and attachments.  So it took awhile to get the junk and dirt out of it, retrieve some missing pieces, and get the thing up and running as it is intended to be used.

It takes a fair amount of effort for me to hear what I hear, and it often comes best as a reaction to reading or hearing what somebody else is saying.  I focus on the hearing part, including maintaining a good connection, and I tend to give shorter shrift to the translation and presentation part.  If I lose the connection, then the whole point is lost, so that’s why I put my energy there.

I have wished for a collaborator who would focus on the writing and translation part, but Gita has steered me away from that configuration — she thinks I should be doing the whole undertaking.  I struggle with the writing.  I think in parentheses and footnotes and gerunds — how to get those curlicued and nested thoughts into linear form, into short, declarative sentences, and into something that others can follow is a challenge for me.  And taking the time and having the patience to explain it all and not leave too much to be gleaned from between the lines — that’s a challenge for me, too.  Willy used to talk about how programmers get bored after figuring out the gist of a programming problem, and often are impatient with subsequent steps, including the debugging stage.  I’m probably like that.  Once I feel satisfied myself, I have to discipline myself to go further with the project after that — I either don’t hear a call to communicate it well or I override that call with some nonsense of my own (including residue from having a number of people tell me I don’t write well).

I feel somewhat better about the process of learning to communicate when I think of it as finding my voice.  That, in turn, leads me to recollecting the intentional misreading (by a friend of a friend) of the Latin phrase “cave canem” (beware of dog) into “cave caneam,” beware lest I sing.  (The friend of the friend is Debbie Roberts, who I think is a professor at Haverford College.)  I like the idea that somewhere inside of me I have a powerful voice, if I can only find it.  Again, to get back to where I started, I think we all do, it’s a matter of realizing our potential.


January 5, 2013

This is about a thought I’ve been aware of for a long time but never really registered with me in my, as mother might put it, gizitsky (gut) — wasn’t a visceral understanding until this morning.  (I take that to mean I wasn’t quite ready to deal with its implications until now.)

I met someone some time ago, very briefly, and it was pretty clear to me that he literally had difficulty thinking when I was in (arm’s length) proximity to him physically.  I dealt with that as best I could, because I really did have something I felt I needed to talk to him about and I didn’t get the chance either talk about it then or to arrange another opportunity to discuss it — I just tried to get across the main idea (I thought): you’re barking up the wrong tree, I could help you find the right one, and I could use your help with something else.  I had thought he had indicated that he was interested in all that.

Leaving aside the content of the conversation I anticipated, I am at this point thinking the real significance of the attempt at conversation was to experience this drowning-out of a mental process.  Because it’s quite analogous to what happens when the ego gets in the way during meditation or some other means of accessing the divine, the forces greater than ourselves, the universe.  I can’t hear my guidance or feel my support when there’s ego-chatter and fear, doubt, and insecurity rattling around inside my mental apparatus.  I need willingness and surrender, great openness to the encounter, a clear channel.

I suspect that I needed to show to this person, and to myself, what it’s like when ego interferes with my interaction with the divine, whether it’s my ego interfering or theirs or even somebody else’s.

Just as they seemed to me to make clear when I met them that they did not want to hear what I had to say then or subsequently, I think I needed to see that I need to be free of their ego-chatter and point of view.

I think a different balance could be struck between us, but I don’t detect any willingness to do that.  So in that case, I need to do the “God is husband to the widow,” or a “woman religious,” approach to the issues in my life, and to do that, I need to interact with God without ego-chatter.

I think this approach has a lot to do with how I was drawn to use the name “Ani” (as in, nun) as a screen name.  When I stopped using it and started using my given name online, I felt I would try to make a go of being more oriented towards social interactions and less with my head up in the clouds, so to speak.  Clearly, what I’m looking for is the balance between the two that works for me, whatever that balance turns out to be.

But what I think this encounter and my experience of not being able to hear was presenting as a lesson to me was that if I am going to have to be on my own, I need to hear without interference, just as this other person wants to hear without interference.  I think it was a way of showing me the source of some of the chatter I need to set aside.  Of course, if I am with someone who has less ego-chatter, I can hear better how to relate to them — which may not be cutting a tie that seems to bind.

In this situation, I can’t hear well and I am also not receiving the resources I need some other way.

I am trying to resolve that untenable position, whether dramatically, by going all-in with one method or the other, or by rearranging the balance between the two some other way, perhaps even by receiving the gift of the chatter’s becoming muted, through something my would-be interlocutor learns to do.