I’ve just had an eery experience.
Listening to a friend, I heard details of her story that made the whole of her self-presentation at that moment shift from being a mystery to me to being clearly and instantly understandable.
Everything about the way she was in a certain area of her life was now crystal clear to me. Understanding shifted to realization at that moment.
I’ve been consciously listening to people for 43 years, since I discovered as a Sociology grad student that people didn’t want my answers; they wanted my listening.
Many times have people had realizations as the result of listening. Realizations are the goal: Listen until the puzzle becomes a picture.
But never have I the listener had a realization about the other person. (1) So never have I had the occasion to test out my own theory.
That theory is that a single piece of information – a single puzzle piece – can transform what otherwise was a puzzle into a picture; could, that is, result in realization. It was very confirming.
And it wasn’t as a result of what happened to the speaker, but to the listener.
I can’t disclose the details unfortunately. But for me it isn’t about the details anyways.
What I’m ecstatic about is the living proof that, if we share critical information about a determining traumatic event in our past, it can unlock mysteries about ourselves and the way we are, decades later. It tells us how the twig was bent, that explains how the tree inclined. (2)
In terms of my own puzzle, most of me is invisible to myself, though not to others. I’m busy putting one piece of a thousand-piece puzzle into another. It’s a huge chore when one does it alone.
But listening seems to provide new opportunities. Such as the opportunity to lay all the pieces placed so far on the table. The opportunity to collaborate, to be heard.
We have few insights when we’re down in the dumps. Having someone listen seems to raise our spiritual pulse rate, our emotional temperature. We can actually get up to mild interest, strong interest, and even, in the face of really good listening, enthusiasm.
It seems to me that it’s in those vibratory ranges that insight arises. Maybe it’s where an important piece goes. Or maybe it raises to conscious awareness a piece of the puzzle that the subconscious has been raising and hasn’t been noticed. I don’t know.
By whatever process realization works, in this case, here in one synoptic go was a person’s original bend or decision laid bare, making the inclination of the tree totally understandable.
There’s a whole literature that talks about paradigmatic breakthrough coming as a result of cognitive dissonance. (3) I think the two lines of inquiry are looking at the same thing.
Is that the end of the significance for me of turning puzzles into pictures – has it only professional significance?
Not by a country mile. It has spiritual significance as well.
You remember, as I drove down the road on Feb. 13, 1987, I asked the universe: If our early lives are a puzzle which turns into a picture, could it be that life itself is a puzzle? And, if so, what is the picture that life is? (4)
Following that I received – while behind the wheel of my car – an eight-second vision of the purpose of life. (5) So this has profound spiritual significance for me. Life itself is a puzzle. The picture that life is – the Mother’s design of life – can be seen.
The process of realization is seeing the picture that the puzzle represents, while the most effective way I’ve seen to trigger one is through selfless listening. (6)
(1) Perhaps it was because I didn’t know the people I listened professionally to very well so I had to simply accept whatever they said about themselves. In this case I knew the person well.
(2) I have to warn against a tendency in some people to jump to conclusions, to arrive at a premature conclusion when they haven’t really listened to other person or listened long enough. I’m not trying to feed that tendency.
(3) On this apparent principle that cognitive dissonance can precede and lead to paradigmatic breakthrough, see “The Principles of Largescale Employment Projects – Part 2/2,” February 23, 2016 (c. 1995), at https://goldenageofgaia.com/2016/02/23/the-principles-of-largescale-employment-projects-part-22/
(4) See “The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment – Ch. 13 – Epilogue,” at https://goldenageofgaia.com/2011/08/13/the-purpose-of-life-is-enlightenment-ch-13-epilogue/
(5) I know this area of Vancouver well. I grew up there. When I emerged from the vision after around eight seconds, I looked to my right and left to see how far I had travelled in the time I’d been “out.” I hadn’t moved an inch. That was eight second outside of time.
(6) Service-to-others listening, not service-to-self.; i.e., seeking affirmation for insight, helpfulness, generosity, etc. I hesitated to call it “therapeutic” because it isn’t the property of professionals, but it is more focused and intentional than “ordinary” listening. Skill plus commitment. Anyone can listen, but, unfortunately, few people do.