If I am lucky, it happens once a week; not always, but more often than not. Oh, what is it, you say? Well, I meet someone who says something like “well, I listen sometimes.” Or perhaps they say, “I do a little.”
I live in a world where speaking with most people is to speak with a wooden doorpost, for all they listen to me. For them, the world turns on authority: if you are above them, a respected individual, then they will do as they are told. If you are below, they won’t. And below is where I usually find myself. Now you might be imagining this to be a huge impediment to me, and if you think this, you could not be more wrong. Because it’s so easy for someone to accept the word of an authority without even thinking about what they heard or read. They accept it because they accept what their authority says. No thinking needed. No inward reflection on what their authority said. Just mere acceptance which in turn will lead to the required regurgitation on demand.
Which is where today’s meeting on a train from Leipzig to Hannover had my heart sitting up and begging for more. All he said – the young man, and they are invariably young – he mentioned how he hadn’t accepted what I had said.
Which may sound strange to you, but the implications of his statement to me were huge: he implied thereby that he was considering it for himself. I’ll tell you, words of that kind are music to my ears. I mean, how many professors would be happy if one of their students said that they were considering what they had been told?
Of the professors I know, not many. But then, I am sure there are exceptions, just like the elderly gentleman in Nijmegen who truly ‘got’ Goethe’s colour theory (Farbenlehre). There are always exceptions to rules.
The problem is that there are too many who want to be listened to; there are too few who listen.
The Deaf Of Heart.
Which is why I cherish my status as a fifty-something frump: it weeds out the deaf of heart with a speed and precision that is truly magical. Most people will only listen to someone who is their authority, and that usually excludes me. Their problem – and this really is a problem for them – is that they aren’t aware of this. Like the man who said he wasn’t in the market for a guru… it’s not that he was, but it did tell me that he didn’t respect me.
That again isn’t my problem, because it’s not respect I demand. What I do demand is that they do not respect me, but rather, respect their own inner consciousness and ask themselves, ‘does this make sense?’ That has fuck all to do with authority or gurus in any shape or form, and anybody who even whispers such things is only telling me that they fell at the first hurdle.
My problem with them is that they are the kind who will, if given a chance, shut people up. If there is one thing in this life that I detest, it is people who tell others to be quiet or to limit their ability to speak in any way whatsoever. But there’s a subtle problem here: they think they’re doing the right thing. Well, be warned that this is to fall at the first hurdle.
The ability to question oneself is the very thing that allows the conscience to flower. If they cannot, they might as well take the hemlock they meted out to Socrates. For their worth to humanity will be that of those who forced it on him. I mean, people remember Socrates; they don’t remember the short-sighted blubberers who sought to quieten him. But then, he was wise enough to know that stupid people in power – the blubberers – exist everywhere, and if it wasn’t the Athenian authorities who committed him to silence, it would be someone else.
He got his own back, and those of you who know me, know how it came about – and it wasn’t something the authorities could do anything about. It was, however, the stupidity of the common man who would give him a kick in the balls on that occasion. There’s nothing like being a historical figure to spoil your day. Which is why I treasure being a fifty-something-frump. It cuts through the dross like a hot knife through butter.
And yes, it is lonely! But who wants to be tied to a group of friends where the topic of discussion is whether the coffee’s okay, and the answers are “Oh, fine”. If that’s a conversation then I am well shot of it. I do not need emptiness in my life, I’ve got enough of it without having to add to the torment by adding empty, hollow conversations to the list. Genuinely, I would rather starve than have a meal with someone who when asked how they are replies with the words they always say: “Oh, fine.” Do they mean that they are fine, when they were ‘fine’ last week, and the week before – and the week before that? Is their life such a tedium that there is literally nothing that goes wrong, ever, period? Or are they so dim of wit that they literally do not know if they are well or not. Brian’s deceased wife – Brian being my ex partner from Lüneburg, by the way – his wife didn’t know if she was well or not unless she asked her doctor to tell her so. If I have a sniffle, I know if it’ll develop into a cold or not… but then, I am the kind of person who asks questions of herself.
And I live in a world where most people don’t.
Which is why my heart sits up and begs when I meet someone who makes the faintest of hints that they listen. Even if it is only once in a while. I’ll put it this way: if they listen a little, it’s enough for me: because if someone can do it a little, they’ll question themselves a little. That means they’ll eventually realize that listening and questioning themselves is an art in itself, and will be able to discern from their own experience if what they are hearing is the truth. Or not.
It’ll not be because they accept the things they hear, and it won’t be because they do as their guru figure tells them to. They’ll do it because it shows them a new dimension on their own lives. It’ll be because they have the fertile ground within themselves to determine truth from fiction. Truth from illusion. Truth from everything else. When they can do that for the things anybody says to them, that really is respect.
Proper, human respect.
Such people make my heart sing.
But then, in trying to find them, I listen to all who speak with me. That is to say, I respect them first. Which is where my problems start: in having listened to them with the care and attention that a life of self-questioning brings to any human, I am in a position to hone my answer to a razor’s edge. Which is why thoughtless people who live in their illusions are hurt by me: because truth hurts. But then, it only hurts because they lack the capacity to question themselves and their illusions – which means they’re not ready to deal with the truth when it raises its ugly head. The secret of the truth is this: it hurts whether I am their authority or not. Whether they like it or not.
It’s how truth works.
I received an email from a gentleman this morning that said the following: “I am not currently in the market for a guru but thank you for the kind offer.” All I had done was to offer a little advice; the kind of thing you do when your partner’s driving and has strayed across the white lines in the middle of the road. A gentle nudge is all that is needed to get them to concentrate on driving.
And Another Perspective On Multiverses.
Rudolf Steiner often said things that sounded stupid to the workings of a logical mind. Because when he spoke about herrings’ eggs, many logical thinkers will have found opportunity to pour scorn on him. That didn’t make the things he said any less valuable, for he shared a very different perspective on our world than that accepted by most. It only meant that those who believe in logic don’t worry themselves about such details because they can’t imagine them.