1 Listen

Listen.

You’ve heard it all before.

Whether the fabril arrogance of know-it-all adolescents fresh-skins, or the seen-it-done-it confidence of mid-life in-betweeners, or the silent heard-it-all-before of jaded age-old wrinklers — listen to what you have forgotten.

As children you experienced it truly. Now listen and bring your knowing to it.

Before letters and words, sentences and paragraphs and chapters, before books and libraries, there was wording. Listen, then, to this wording as it spills from mouth and pools in the air and laps at so many ears as are present.

Wording is not speaking, then hearing. Wording is the same moment of speaking as listening, as both occur simultaneously. Listen. At this very moment, the only present moment, as we surf through time and navigate, celebrate, and share… meaning.

Are we here? It is not a matter of location. Not one of physical location, at least. There is no movement through space. And yet, something changes. We are travelling, ever travelling, and can not stop. Let me indicate the motion of our travel.

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And again. Let me indicate the motion of our travel.

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Though no distance is covered, we may experience our passing. In time.

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Wording synchronises our mutual movement through time. Enjoyed solo as a cycle ride or together in a bus, as close to us as a black beetle crawling over a bricked wall, its black carapace ribbed and rough as the back of our thumbnail, or as from a plane’s window the landscape draped below us like an intricately woven tablecloth, the line of the horizon given a curve of the globe.

Word, apparrently, follows word. Words compile statements, followed by other statements, simple or complicated, as picturesque a journey, or as plain an argument, as the words articulate, paired-up like an articulate lorry, or chained together like carriage compartments in a train. Train… crash! With meaning or feeling, addressed to mind or heart, heard by mind or heart or soul, so much more than vibrations in the air, a cold signal from me to you, a bare scientific explanation of frequencies.

Wording, in this momenting right now, has many beginnings and many endings. Why are we listening? What purpose we did set out with? Even before hearing a single word? And what remains after the last word is spoken? What may revisit our mind later, tomorrow or in years to come?

What power is invested in this wording for it to escape the confines of this moment, this subtle, thin… fragile… quality which we trace through time together…?

The spelling of a word. W. O. R. D. The spell that is wording. Not captured in a word, but through the mixture of sounds between gaps, phrases spoken with clear intent, unspooling a thread of meaning, like a spider’s silk across and between, and in our minds a web, finer than any spider’s silk, more fragile, and yet may last a lifetime.

Not the words, not the written form, for words have been passed down for centuries and we are none the wiser. Words sealed on paper as solidly as inscribed on ancient stone, pictograms still visible from egyptian masons three thousand years ago. Words may be exhumed from the tomb of books, made living in mind and rewording by priests. So we may be re-minded of what was said, and what may be lost. We hold on to these words, the dearest words contained in holy books, so we do not lose the spirit of those who have passed away. And yet, in our grasping, in our evocation of their long-passed spirit, we can not catch their breath… only as subtle and passing as our own.

Something is lost in the transliteration of wording to words. In the defferential handing over of words from generation to generation. Or the passing of words from one person to a single other person. They match, these two, and bind us to a way of living which misses the essence of life. Between the spelling of the word and its transference, is loss. The loss of which is separating us, isolating us, and killing us.

In the breaking down of meaning into meaningless elements, cyphers, letters, characters, in the religious enforcement of words and sentences, in the utter defference to the genius of Shakespear or Newton, the insight of Jesus or Mohammad, and in the emphasis of importance on the speaker… there is loss.

The dead have their place. Long may the work of Shakespeare and Newton live on, and may the holy word of our ancestors bring light to the darker corners of our souls. In our reading. In our listening. But given the loudness of the world, the market we have made of the world… how can we hear… anything of value?

And so, we return to this.

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The only thing which may repair us.

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Silence. And even the weight of a single word breaks it.

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And yet, in our listening repose, we may appreciate silence.

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For as we listen, we are not speaking. We are silent, in our listening.

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Here is the power which lives only as far as we manifest it. The power of silence in our listening, attentive, and clear, and present-minded. Sensitive, because we are not undergoing the effort of wording. Receptive. Responsive. Here is the secret power of wording. And should we manifest it well, together, our salvation.

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Not the power of words, build brick by brick to form the institutions we have formed around us, the banks and their charters, the governments and their constitutions, the religions and their holy books. Not spelled out. Objectified. Commerce and trade has spread us to all corners of the world, and at the same time separated us. The age-old market where one benefits at the loss of another, repeated for three thousand years, have created a pyramid as solid as the Egyptian tombs, with the havenots at the bottom and the excessively wealthy at the top. The complex maze that we have made for ourselves where we don’t know the lives of our neighbours and our parents grow old alone, strangers amidst strangers. And the stronger our communities, the more distinct from others, whether football fans or religious adherents, race or gender, politics or like-minded groups. Placing a word on us, calling ourselves Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Buddhist, Liberal or Conservative or Socialist or Capitalist, gay or straight or bi or trans or gender-fluid, binds us and simultaneously separates us.

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Words bind and separate the world. The spelling of words and their transmission over time, has created the civilised world lasting thousands of years, and for all its wealth and wonder, we live separated in our schools and at work and in our cities, eeking out our own tiny corner of privacy.

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We are miraculous, there’s no doubt about it. Each one of us. Each of us is a corner of the universe aware of itself. In the vastness of a billion billion stars, on this little ball of mud, here we are, blinking and breathing, aware of it. Miraculous.

For here is the most important aspect of our listening. It is done presently.

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And there is no cap to it. Whether two of us, or a thousand of us, the wording of simultaneous speaking and listening, is but a moment passing through time… Whether a million or a billion of us, our momenting takes the same time.

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This momenting can bear the weight of two of us or ten billion of us listening together.

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This silence can bear all of us, if we attend to it together.

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Of course, we are not ready for it. We are bombarded by noise. By so many messages. So much technology, so many leaders, talkers, so much noise. So much to listen to already. So much information being conveyed. So many words, good words, wise words even, the best words which have been written, and are to be written. Binding and dividing us.

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And so… we return to what is happening here… return to what each of us experienced when we were children, toddlers, in the smiling eyes of wordless babies. Shared attention. Bring to bear your knowing to this. Remember this way of listening.