At last nights listening to hear and speaking to be heard class we opened with, “Listening,” by Thich Nhat Hanh.   The class was focused on the values of empathy and on the qualities of how we listen.  Hearing this piece by Thich Nhat Hanh,  the message I hear is the power in self-empathy and empathic listening.

A  quote from the Dali Lama follows increasing the impact of this  message…..


We have to understand in order to be of help.  We all have pain, but we tend to suppress it because we don’t want it to come up in our living room.  The most important thing that we need is to be understood.  We need someone to listen to us and to understand us.  Then we will suffer less.  But everyone is suffering and no one wants to listen.  We don’t know how to express ourselves so that people can understand.  because we suffer so much, the way we express our pain hurts other people, and they don’t want to listen.

Listening is a very deep practice.  You have to empty yourself.  You have to leave space in order to listen..especially to people we think are our enemies, the ones we believe are making our situation worse.  When you have shown your capacity for listening and understanding, the other person will begin to listen to you, and you have a chance to tell him or her of your pain, and it’s your turn to get healed.  This is the practice of peace.

by Thich Nhat Hanh


quote by the Dali Lama

“The compassionate mind is very important. Fear, anger, jealousy are based on a self-centered attitude. By developing a sense of caring for others’ well-being your heart automatically opens and that brings transparency, straightforwardness and honesty, which leads to friendship. We are social animals, and one individual’s survival relies entirely on the rest of the community.”

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