- Nancy Ogilvie
The Listening Heart
Principle: The mind and its words often get in the way of perceiving Grace; the heart is the appropriate organ for that.
Practice: Don't talk, just listen - with an open heart.
Written Tuesday, 10/12/21
Last week, I wrote about discovering that I am often afraid to open to Divine Grace. When She is offering blessings or gifts, I distract myself by questioning or doubting my own judgment or motives. And I committed to a new practice of inquiring from my heart space when I notice self-doubt, rather than distracting myself with mental ruminations and analyzing from a head space.
Then I realized that the Rumi poem I had posted the last week of my vacation is quite apropos to that practice. So here it is again, followed by some notes on what I find meaningful about it. It’s titled “Say Nothing, Just Listen.”
"Yesterday I went completely mad, lost and confused.
But then Love saw me and spoke:
'Don't wail,' Love said, 'Don't tear your clothing. I've come.'
"'O love,' I cried out, 'I'm afraid of everything.'
"'But nothing really exists,' Love said, 'so don't even talk about it.
I'll just whisper secrets into your heart instead.
Answer me by shaking your head. Don't talk, just listen.
A moonlike mirror reflecting light will appear on your way into the heart.
And this journey to the heart is so gratifying, you need not say anything about it to anyone.'
"So I turned then and saw, and I asked my heart:
'O heart, what kind of moon is this?'
"It called back to me:
'This is something that you cannot understand with your mind, so don't say a word.'
"But I persisted,
'Is it something angelic or is it human?'
"'Neither, it replied, 'don't talk, just listen.
O one who stays in a house cluttered with words and images, pack your belongings, and get out of that place, but don't say a word.'
"So I just about passed out of myself as best I could.
'I feel completely upside down. Inside out,' I said.
"'Be like that,' Love said, 'Just don't talk. Just listen.'
"'O heart,' I begged. 'Please treat me like you're my father or mother. Isn't that one of God's attributes?'
"'Yes,' Love said, 'Of course it is.
But even then, O soul of your Father and Mother, say nothing at all and just listen.'"
So Rumi suggests that Love (or Grace) whispers secrets directly into our hearts. In order to receive its message, Love asks us to listen, in silence. In my experience last week, I totally missed the Grace of a quick appointment with the new doctor by using words to analyze and question myself instead of listening with my heart.
Again, Rumi says, “This is something you cannot understand with your mind, so don’t say a word.” When I used words – my mind – to process the gift, I was using the wrong organ. Certainly, there are appropriate times to use our minds and words – and it’s the heart that’s best at perceiving and receiving Love. In stillness and silence and listening, not words.
So how has it been to “pack my belongings, get out of that place (of my heady words), and be in silence in my heart this week? I’ve “about passed out of myself as best I could” and felt “completely upside down. Inside out.' It is totally disorienting to walk in the world with my heart open in silence, listening and not saying a word. I totally “understand” the last plea in the poem for my heart to treat me as a loving mother or father. This is a place of excruciating and exquisite vulnerability, and I pray I can meet myself in it with tenderness and love. And silence in my mind.
That is my practice, anyway. Don’t talk, just listen. Not literally, perhaps, but metaphorically. Blessed be!