September 6, 2006

Compassionate Listening



The Compassionate Listening Project, a non-profit organization based outside of Seattle, Washington, promotes and teaches powerful listening skills of peacemaking, helpful for families, communities, job sites, and for social change work locally and globally. These skills employ speaking and listening from the heart, even in the heat of conflict. The Compassionate Listening Project is dedicated to empowering individuals to heal polarization and build bridges between people, communities and nations in conflict.

Gene Knudson-Hoffmn and others from Quaker, Buddhist, and Jewish backgrounds founded the Compassionate Listening Project based upon a belief that compassionate listening is a key to transforming the world. Committed to world peace, this project has sent teams to try to understand the most isolated and conflicted figures worldwide. They visited Mu’ammar Qaddafi in Libya, listened to all sides of the warring parties in Central American revolutions, given their ear to the most challenging factions in Asia and the Middle East. In Alaska, compassionate listening brought two sides of the whaling controversy together for deep listening. Their belief is that through compassionate listening to the sorrows and predicaments of others, these conflicts will change.

"Compassionate Listening is a process rather than a product. It is healing precisely because it does not pretend to 'have the answers.' Rather, it engages the participants in processes that have each side seeing the humanity of the other, even when they disagree." Rabbi David Zaslow, Ashland Oregon

The Tao calls this “listening with the heart so that we can find the Way.” Compassionate listening embraces our own struggles as well as our neighbor's. It is possible that deep listening is a vehicle to awaken our heart’s amazing capacity to hold all that is human, even what we previously may have considered incomprehensible. A sobering appreciation for others emerges with the realization that we are all That.

4 comments:

isaiah said...

Our Unity church offered a week- long workshop on Compassionate Listening which I attended and found to be inspiring and incredibly valuable in opening up self and allowing others the freedom to express who they are.

The wisdom of the heart is present in every being- sometimes the struggle to reach this wisdom, which sees past differences seems insurmountable, but it is possible- in fact, it is happening everyday all across this Earth. The most difficult thing we can ever do is to love someone unconditionally; we cannot arrive at unconditional love without first being able to listen and understand each other. When we develop the “fair witness” the course advocates- a new world opens up to us and it becomes present in the other’s eyes, thus the heart as well.

“We understand each other- what else is now possible!”

I highly recommend this course for those seeking to take the next step in personal and spiritual growth.

We are all- That! It is this simple.

Kathleen said...

Lovely to hear this Meredith...

The Tao calls this “listening with the heart so that we can find the Way.” Beautiful...

"Compassionate Listening is a process rather than a product. It is healing precisely because it does not pretend to 'have the answers.' Yes... no answers..!

Resting in the Heart... or what Adya calls... the Unborn... and listening from this place... takes away all definition... leaving everything open.. to truly be Heard... Felt.. and Loved....

I have worked for sometime for a writer and mediator (Bill Ury), who has been involved in similar work, a Peace Maker as well... and have learned much from him about listening...

Thank you Meredith... for your lovely sharing...

Irving said...

A beautiful and wise project indeed. It is the way Sufis listen also. They say that if you listen with only your head, the words go only as far as your ears. If you listen with love, the words go to your heart.

Peace and Many Blessings!

Meredith said...

Isaiah, Kathleen, and Irving,

Recently I recognized that a deep longing within me is to connect with others in a more profound way. The way, I see now, is through compassionate listening, this listening with the heart. In this, the essence of unconditional love emerges - undertanding of self and other as not separate at all, but rather unique expressions of One Being.

Thank you, my friends.