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Chapter 28: The Art of Listening Is Enough

Only the heart knows the silence which is capable of listening. Only a lover listens; others simply make conversations.

That reminds me about two professors who had gone mad - it often happens in that profession. To be a professor is to be on the borderline.

The superintendent of the mad asylum thought that since both were professors of great repute, it would be good to keep them together and see what happens.

So he put them into one cell and, hiding, he tried to listen to what was happening. Soon he felt that if he listens a little more, he will go mad! What was happening in that cell was a great conversation, but nobody was listening to anybody. One professor would talk, the other would be silent; it would seem as if he were listening. And when the first stopped, the second would start - and the trouble was, there was no relationship between the two! What the first was saying was one thing, and what the second was saying was something else completely - not even a faraway cousin!

The superintendent listened a little while and then he started feeling confused.but the most puzzling thing was: why does one stop when the other talks? That was his irresistible urge to know. So he opened the door of the cell, went in, and asked what was going on.

They said, “Are you deaf? A great conversation is happening. Do you think we don’t know how to converse? One talks, the other remains silent - it is a simple method. So let him talk whatever he wants to talk. When he is tired, then I will take my turn. Then I will take my revenge! And we are grateful to you that you have put us together. This conversation is going on day in, day out. It is a question of prestige.”

When I heard about this, I wondered whether this is not what is actually happening all over the world. Just because you know how to converse, that one of you has to be silent, it does not mean he is silent. It simply means he has to pretend that he is silent. His mind is weaving a thousand and one thoughts. His mind may be somewhere far away, and he will pretend that he is listening attentively.

This is happening everywhere. Even when you see that a conversation is very relevant, the relevance is a very arbitrary strategy. You go on remaining silent, weaving your thoughts, spinning a thousand and one thoughts; just by the corner of your ear, the words are falling. Then you catch hold of a certain word, and from that word you jump in. It seems the conversation is related; it is not related at all, it is just a pretension. Just what those two professors did, you are doing.

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