Inner Listening


Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
do you know what I know
In your palace warm, mighty king,
do you know what I know
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Said the king to the people everywhere,
listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
listen to what I say
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

The Buddha said, about his teachings, don’t just take my word for it, go out and find the answers yourself.

Rumi says, look for the answer inside your question.

Your Inner Voice comes from the part of you that can see the bigger picture and helps guide you towards your true life expression. – Joan Sotkin

Many teachers of various backgrounds and experiences have said what Joan said, in different words.  They suggest a myriad of techniques and practices on how to access, listen and trust our inner voice, our guide, our higher self.

Practicing quiet, meditation, yoga or other forms of stilling our bodies and minds has great benefit in being able to better listen to ourselves.

I awoke one morning with the “Do you hear what I hear” song in my head.  Reading the lyrics more closely I was struck by something about the song.  If you notice the verses travel from seeing, to hearing, to knowing.  Knowing a truth, a great and important mystery, so important that it deserves the most valuable offerings we can give.  And in this knowing we are gifted with goodness and light.

This knowing is birthed in us, pure and good, like a child, full of hope and possibilities.  We have experienced times when we had an “ah-ha” or a deep understanding, a knowing.   This knowing can feel liberating, filling us with confidence and a sense of “Yes!”  This is that voice speaking.  This voice we listen to.

Do we need to pass through the gates of seeing and hearing before knowing?  As humans, it just might be that we have to, at least for some things.

Sometimes I read something, or hear something on the radio or iPod, and a deep resonance will occur, a knowing of a deep Truth, at the precise moment I need it.

Sometimes, I sit in silence, in meditation, or by the beach or among the trees or in the water, and have a revelation to a question that has been tumbling in my head and heart.

Sometimes, I hear  a story, a phrase, or a piece of advice from several different people within a short amount of time.  Or people will mention a book, or movie or music – three times in a week.  It’s as if the Universe has a 2×4 and hit me with it.  At that point, I can’t help but acknowledge the invitation to listen, to incorporate what I have seen and heard into what I know and then, to know differently.

Sometimes, my inner compass tells me which direction to go when I’m lost.
If I just listen.

How do you listen?


Our Common Humanity

A conversation with a friend recently became part of a gathering of revelations about what it is that makes us all human in the same way.  Some of these revelations were illuminating, some needed reminders.

According to John Welwood* it basically comes down to fear that I am not really going to be accepted for who I am, and my deep longing for that acceptance. 

I bet that if I asked each person on the planet this question, 100% would say, “Yes.” 

“Do you want to be accepted for who you are?”

If we all want the same thing, then why is it so hard to make that happen?  That is also how we are human in the same way.  Because the kind of true acceptance (absolute love) we are longing for is experienced only in temporary moments in the human journey, which is the way humans are built.  Permanent experience of this kind of love will only be realized when we return to that Love, when we die.

Then there is the love that we humans are built to give to each other, and all beings, relative love.  It is different than the all accepting love we long for, and often gets mistaken for it, which contributes to our suffering.

This human, relative love has been described as messy, and it is.  It is also beautiful and exactly what we need in order to connect with each other.  Unfortunately, this relative love changes, we fall out of love, we forget to express love, we take love for granted, we make judgments and assumptions, and we hold grievances.

Absolute love is the love of the Source, our Essence, God, Jesus, Allah, Energy – whatever name we give to the Mystery.  It’s not that humans can’t experience absolute love, we do in moments.  Absolute love is what we came from, what we will return to, and paradoxically what we presently embody (our essence), although humanly. 

There are many times when we experience absolute love, but only temporarily – holding one another, playing, laughter, tears, deep joy, deep pain, and deep longing.  This is a love that mystics talk about when trying to describe their experience of communion with the Divine.  Because that is what absolute love offers, communion with the Divinity of Love.  This love comes through us, and is offered to us in many moments.  It is pervasive and unlimited. 

In human relationships we often mistakenly identify relative love as absolute love.  And when we discover the love between us is not absolute (all the time) then we rail at the unfairness, become wounded and hold grievances, not realizing we are creating our own suffering by not accepting ourselves and others for who we are –  humans, having a human experience.

We are not built to experience absolute love absolutely.  We are built to experience it in moments, when there is a softening within and between us.  When the divisions between each other and the Divine are weak.  We are built to rejoice in this temporary experience of absolute love because we know what it is like to not have it, the majority of the time.

The way to open up the space for those momentary experiences of absolute love to be possible is to “plug into the Source” the absolute love, whenever possible.  To be aware of the temporary moments.  To cultivate gratitude for the simple joys and tenderness.  To let in longing and pain as much as joy and wonder.  To attend to my own process and practice that allow me to see when I am “plugged into” humans instead of the Source of absolute love.

What I can do is recognize the fact of this human experience, knowing that I can not always experience the kind of acceptance and love I know is possible.  I can commit to offering that kind of acceptance, or at least be a channel for it when possible.  I can also recognize the common humanity of the longing for and moments of absolute love.

The most powerful thing we can do for each other, for ourselves and for the entire world is to explore what it means to accept each other for who we are.  Not to be perfect at that acceptance, but to explore how it can manifest, moment to moment. 


* Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, by John Welwood. Published 2011.