In what position will you put the pope? Asleep or awake? He is in between; he has heard the word bill, but he has interpreted it in his own way. He has forgotten completely that the bill is about abortion, and certainly he has not been aborted, and he has not to pay any bill.
But this is the situation of us all. We hear what we want to hear; we hear only that which adjusts with our preconceived notions, prejudices.
You will be surprised to know…the scientific research is almost unbelievable: it says ninety-eight percent of what you hear is prevented from reaching to you – ninety-eight percent! Only two percent reaches you. It has to pass through so many thoughts, conceptions, beliefs, conditionings, and they go on cutting it according to themselves. By the time it reaches you, it is something totally different than was said, than was heard. It is a long process of screening, and we are all screening. If something falls in tune with our mind – that means with our past – we hear it. But if it goes against it, we certainly hear the sound but we miss the meaning.
To listen is a great art.
People only hear; very few people are able to listen.
One man had reached Gautam Buddha. He was a well-known philosopher of the day and he had defeated many philosophers in discussions about the ultimate, the truth, God. He had come to defeat Gautam Buddha too – that would be the crowning victory. He had brought with him five hundred chosen disciples to see Gautam Buddha defeated.
But Gautam Buddha asked a very strange question. He asked, “Do you understand the meaning and the difference between hearing and listening?”
The man was at a loss. He had come to discuss great things, and this was a small matter. And there was no difference…as far as language is concerned, dictionaries are concerned, hearing is listening. The man said, “There is no difference at all, and I had hoped you would not ask such an ordinary question.”
Gautam Buddha said, “There is a great difference. And unless you understand the difference, there is no possibility of any dialogue. I will say something; you will hear something else. So if you really want to have a dialogue with me, sit by my side for two years. Don’t speak a single word, just listen. Whatever I’m telling others, be unconcerned; I’m not telling you. So you need not be worried about whether it is true or untrue, whether you have to accept it or not. You are just a witness; your opinion is not required.
“After two years, you can have the dialogue, the discussion you have come for. And I would love to be defeated, so this is not to postpone defeat; it is just to make the dialogue possible.”
At that very moment, Mahakashyap – a great disciple of Gautam Buddha; perhaps the greatest – laughed. He was sitting under a tree far away, and the philosopher thought, “That man seems to be mad. Why is he laughing?”
Buddha said, “Mahakashyap, this is not mannerly; even for an enlightened man this is not right.”