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Chapter 3: The Wheel of Dhamma

What does it mean exactly when he says: Therefore, Subhuti, listen well and attentively?

To listen well ordinarily means to listen in a receptive mood, in deep receptivity. When you listen if you are arguing, if you are judging, if you are saying, “Yes, this is right because it fits with my ideology, and this is not right because it doesn’t appeal to me logically. This is right, this is not right. This I can believe, this I cannot believe..” If you are continuously sorting out things inside, you are listening but you are not listening well.

And you are listening with your past mind interfering. Who is this judging? It is not you, it is your past. You have read a few things, you have heard a few things, you have been conditioned for a few things. It is the past continuously interfering. The past wants to perpetuate itself. It does not allow anything that can disrupt it. It does not allow anything new; it allows only the old that fits with it. That’s what you go on doing when you judge, when you criticize, when you discuss inside and debate.

To listen rightly means to listen obediently. This word obedience is beautiful. You will be surprised to know that the original root from which the word obedience comes is obedire - it means a thorough listening. Why does obedience mean thorough listening? Are they the same thing? Yes, they are. If you listen totally, thoroughly, you will obey. If truth is there, you will obey. You will not need any decision on your part. Truth is self-evident. Once heard, it automatically follows that you will follow it. Once heard, you will become obedient to it. Hence this word obedience comes from obedire - listening thoroughly. Or, as the Jewish tradition says, to bare your ear. If you have really opened your ear and there is no interference and no disturbance inside, and no distraction from anywhere, you have not only opened your ear, you have opened your heart. And if the seed falls into the heart, sooner or later it will become a tree, sooner or later it is going to bloom. It may take a little time for it to become a tree. It will have to wait for the right season, for the spring to come, but it will become a tree. You will obey it if you have heard the truth.

That’s why the mind does not allow you to hear it, because the mind is aware of the fact that once truth is heard then there is no way to escape. So if you want to escape, it is better not to hear. Once heard, you are caught into it; then there is no escape. How can you escape when you know what truth is? Then the very phenomenon that you know what truth is creates a discipline in you. You start following it. And it is not something that you enforce upon yourself, it comes on its own accord.

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