I’m convinced that human beings were designed poorly from the start.
Everyone knows that we are endowed with two ears, two eyes and just one mouth. This is supposed to teach us that listening and watching are more important than talking, right? Since our ears and our eyes outnumber our mouth by a 4 to 1 ratio, this should be a clear indication of what is important. Our sensory channels are flooded with input from the outside world, and therefore we should be excellent listeners and learners. The input channels far outnumber our output channel, to be blunt.
However, that’s not the way human beings are wired.
The problem is that we’re also endowed with a brain, and this mechanism can throw a monkey wrench into the mix. When sound waves are received by the eardrums, the vibration is transmitted to the inner ear and then modulated into “brain waves” which are then interpreted by the brain. (I’m not a doctor, so I’ve probably left out a step or two, but you can get the idea).
Certain sections in your brain are responsible for “recognizing” the audio messages, and other sections recognize the visual input, (as well as olfactory, tactile and other sensory input). The entire mix of signals is then assembled, analyzed, evaluated, and compared to previous experiences. In addition, opinions about the messages are created, preconceptions are reviewed, bad experiences from the past are reviewed, emotions, attitudes, decisions, and a myriad of other thought processes are applied against the sensory input.
After your brain has completed its processing work, the “refined” message is passed along to You. By You I mean the central identity, whatever you perceive to be “yourself.” The psychiatrists would identify the “I” as the ego. Spiritual leaders might identify this beingness as the individual soul. In simple terms, this is who you identify as yourself. This is quite easy to demonstrate in two steps:
1. Think about, or imagine, a dog or a cat. Get the mental picture firmly in your mind.
2. Who is looking at that picture?
Fact is, SOMEONE looks at the mental images that are produced by the brain, and that someone we can identify as You.
What is important about this is to realize that what occurs in the external world is one thing, but what you eventually perceive is quite another. Virtually everything that you have ever seen, heard, felt, smelled or touched has been “interpreted” or filtered by your brain. In short, the accuracy of your information is almost completely dependant upon what the brain tells you.
And that is the crux of the problem.
Since our birth, we human beings have been receiving information that is filtered by our brain, and the “self” or the “ego” then makes decisions about what to do with the information. Because we have all learned from childhood that we are the “center of the universe”, we are all to a certain extent self-centered. Many of us are downright egotistical. The cult of “me”, “me”, “me” is one which most of us belong to. Most everything we experience is viewed from the standpoint of “what’s in it for me.” Selfishness and self-centeredness seem to be the birthright of the human race.
If we were able to receive information straight from the source, without filtering by our ego-driven brains, we would probably be recognized by our peers as being amazingly perceptive. Who knows, with this ability we might even be viewed as a genius!
In upcoming posts, I’ll be discussing techniques to directly access external reality, bypassing the filtering effect. To master the art of Active Listening, we will drill deep into everything which prevents the exercise of this vital skill.
As always, I invite comments, suggestions, disagreements, and encouragement.
Until my next post,