I am the kind of guy that has about five different thought processes or project ideas bouncing around in my head at one time. This usually means that it takes me forever to actually accomplish anything. It also means that I tend to want to blend different ideas together into one thing.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the process of listening to God. I’ve also been noticing that podcasts are a big deal (yeah, I know…kinda obvious. I’m not much of a podcast listener). I’ve also been thinking about the power of story to subvert our intellectual barriers to transformation.
So, in light of all of that, I wrote a parable.
There was once a man who greatly desired to be righteous and holy.
He dedicated all his energy to seeking out the wisest spiritual teachers of his day in order to sit at their feet and hear them speak of the Divine.
He would travel to conferences and festivals all across the country to hear the prominent teachers preach. He would carry with him recordings of every lecture, conversation, and debate held by the most enlightened of leaders. He even began speaking himself, in a bold attempt to gain closer access to the most righteous people.
Everything this man did was dedicated to hearing the words of divine wisdom offered by teachers and mystics from around the world.
After very many years of dedication to his regiment of discipleship, the man was discouraged to realize that he didn’t feel any more enlightened than he had when he first began his quest for knowledge. He had listened to countless teachings by many seemingly wise men and women, yet he himself struggled to experience the spiritual breakthrough he so desired.
At the point of desperation, the man heard about a particularly holy monk in a distant country who offered the most sublime wisdom to those who were willing to hear it. It was said that this monk spoke directly for God.
Immediately, the eager disciple packed his bags and traveled the many leagues in search for this holiest of teachers. Upon finding him, he approached the mystic and fell at his feet.
“Teacher,” the disciple said, “I have spent many years seeking out the holiest of people in an effort to listen to their words. I have heard that what you have to teach is the greatest wisdom of all. Will you allow me to hear it?”
The holy monk looked upon the man. “What I have to say is only for those who are most willing to hear it,” he said.
“I am willing! Please, may I hear it!” The disciple cried.
“Very well.” Replied the monk. He raised his hands in the air and, with a swift move of his arms, clapped.
At that precise moment, the disciple went completely deaf.
He looked around, at first confused as to what was going on. Then, as he realized what had happened, he began to weep. He had dedicated years to hearing divine wisdom directly from the greatest teachers in the world, seemingly to no avail. And now he would never again be able to hear another word spoken.
As he lamented, the wise monk handed him a small piece of paper. The man looked at the monk through tear-filled eyes, who smiled at him, made a sign of blessing, and walked out of the room.
The distraught disciple looked down at the slip of paper. It was a handwritten note. It read:
You have heard so much, yet failed to hear.
May you now fail to hear, and in so doing understand.
The man left and returned home, more attentive to the Divine Voice than ever before.