One of my ongoing questions is: “What am I not seeing?” Whenever I enter into a dialogue with a client, or put myself in a seminar series or a course for ongoing growth and development, I forget what I know in a sense, so that I can hear newly. I practice “getting amnesia” regarding my intellect and memory and then I do my best to listen from the place of “not-knowing”. From this vantage
point I always get a fresh perspective, and I am then open to other’s points of view, am willing to be a neophyte, and so I always “see” a new way of considering a previously well-rooted and oftentimes well-grounded concept. With high intention to get an insight about one issue or another, I find that pretty much anywhere I look will do if I am listening for what I don’t know.
One of the obvious conversations I have been exploring and reflecting on, is the commitment manyof us have to positive global transformation. Global transformation inherently implies a need for listening to the logic of other cultures, a deep respect for
the different points of view of others. Given the way each of us views life, given our varied pasts and what we have made them mean, given our years of education and whatever cultural exposures we each uniquely have had, each one of us is in effect, a different culture.
What would happen to communication if we actually listened to one another as if we were each a different culture, replete with our own values and ways of operating that were grounded in a logic perhaps distinct to ourselves, but nevertheless valid and understandable? Communication would have the possibility of effortlessly becoming dialogue: more listening than speaking.
Now, what if we were to listen to our own intellect and acquired knowledge in the same way? What if we were to listen to the inner silence of what we don’t know, the inner wisdom of “not knowing”, with nothing on our minds but a complete curiosity for what we haven’t been hearing? It is as if we have been listening to the cacophony of our own thinking with such an enamored fascination that the flute music of inspiration has been essentially drowned out. Yet when we can turn our attention away from that educated inner monologue, what can emerge from the stillness is a distinct resonance of wisdom. Implicit in this resonance is an answer to the question that has been raised, an emergence of a solution to the problem, a new realm of possibility that is equally-everywhere-present but which has been obscured by our own attachment to what we know.
In the early 1990’s I was a member of SIETAR, the Society for International Education, Training, and Research, created by the founders of the Peace Corps. The strategy utilized by the most effective interculturalists of the day was the strategy of entering into a culture with no expectations or assumptions, but rather with reverence and a listening for what the culture was speaking not just verbally, but non-verbally. In this way the most effective of the interculturalists were the most malleable, open to assimilating into the culture due to the capacity they had developed within themselves to suspend their own knowledge and ways of behaving. They aligned with the resonance of the new culture much as an instrument allows its own vibrational rate to be catalyzed by a tuning fork.
Being catalyzes Being.
So, listening for what we don’t know could be a universal strategy, a globally transformative strategy, because the very nature of not-knowing calls for one to be present in the moment with no attention paid to one’s personal thinking from the past: beginner’s mind.
~ Laura Basha, Ph.D, (excerpted from the award-winning paper: “The
Creative Process: A Portal to ‘Not-Knowing’, the Non-Verbal Language of Transformation”, published in the 2010 Journal of The Conference for Global Transformation)