Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Attentive Ear
Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;
One of the most important lessons delivered in the ritual of Freemasonry kind of gets slipped in during the Fellowcraft degree. It is described as one of the three jewels of a Fellowcraft and like most of the important guides of the Order, it sneaks in under the radar so to speak and only gains importance with much thought and reflection, it is the attentive ear.
The gift of hearing allows us to do many things; notice something out of our range of sight, enjoy the sounds of the wonderful world around us, and most of all receive verbal communication from our fellow creatures. With this gift we can hear the reflected harmony of the great architects plan in music. There are many who unfortunately take for granted this gift and use it only to hear what is going on around them and not really listen.
There is a enormous difference between hearing and listening. If you have the gift, you can hear everything around you. The cacophony of sounds that surrounds us is ever present, but until you train your ear to select a sound to concentrate your mind on, you are not listening. Do you remember those Charlie Brown cartoons? Whenever there was a scene inside the classroom and the teacher spoke to the kids all you heard was the classic "wup waaa waaa wup waaa" of a muffled horn but never the words they were saying. This is a perfect example of hearing but not listening and I can certainly relate. When I was in school I never listened to anyone, my parents included! For some, that is how they go through life, hearing but never listening.
"And he goes through life, his mouth open, and his mind closed"
William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew
We have to force ourselves to listen, myself included. Our sometimes brief encounters with our friends or Brothers forces some to try to get all the things in their head out, all at once like a shaken up beer bottle exploding with foam. All of your old stories that you want to share with someone else need not to be recited in every conversation, in the rush to get out your story you will miss important things others want to say.
"Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak."
Remember this important lesson when you are in the presence of your Brethren. There is an important give and take in a conversation that we are admonished to adhere to. An attentive ear is truly a jewel to a good man and Brother.
"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force...When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life...When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other...and it is this little creative fountain inside us that begins to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected laughter and wisdom. ...Well, it is when people really listen to us, with quiet fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way."