But I tell you one thing: both she and Shambhu Babu spoiled me by their being so attentive. They taught me, without teaching, the art of speaking. When somebody listens so attentively, you immediately start saying something you had not planned or even imagined; it simply flows. It is as if attention becomes magnetic and attracts that which is hidden in you.
My own experience is that this world will not become a beautiful place to live in unless everybody learns how to be attentive. Right now, nobody is attentive. Even when people are showing that they are listening, they are not listening, they are doing a thousand other things. Hypocrites just pretending…but not the way an attentive listener should be – just all attention, just attention and nothing else, just open. Attention is a feminine quality, and everybody who knows the art of attention, of being attentive, becomes, in a certain sense, very feminine, very fragile, soft; so soft that you could scratch him with just your nails.
My Nani would wait the whole day for the time when I would come back home to tell her stories. And you will be surprised how, unknowingly, she prepared me for the job that I was going to do. It was she who first heard many of the stories that I have told you. It was her to whom I could tell any nonsense without any fear.
The other person, Shambhu Babu, was totally different from my Nani. My Nani was very intuitive, but not intellectual. Shambhu Babu was also intuitive, but intellectual too. He was an intellectual of the first grade. I have come across many intellectuals, some famous and some very famous, but none of them came close to Shambhu Babu. He was really a great synthesis. Assagioli would have loved the man. He had intuition plus intellect, and both not in small measure, but high peaks. He also used to listen to me, and would wait all day until school had finished. Every day after school was his.
The moment I was released from the prison, my school, I would first go to Shambhu Babu. He would be ready with tea and a few sweets that he knew I liked. I mention it because people rarely think of the other person. He always arranged things with the other person in mind. I have never seen anybody bother about the other as he did. Most people, although they prepare for others, they do it according to themselves really, forcing the other person to like what they themselves like.
That was not Shambhu Babu’s way. His thinking of the other was one of the things I loved and respected in him. He always purchased things only after asking the shopkeepers what my Nani used to buy. I came to know this only after he died. Then the shopkeepers told me, the sweetmakers too, that “Shambhu Babu always used to ask a strange question: ‘What does that old woman, who lives there alone near the river – what does she purchase from you?’ We never bothered why he asked, but now we know: he was inquiring about what you liked.”