Special Correspondent of Happiness

Day 1. Listen with ease

Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything, not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still? Then you hear everything, don’t you? You hear the far off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by, the immediate sounds — which means really that you are listening to everything. Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel. If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain, you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you, a change which comes without your volition, without your asking; and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.

The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti

I have discovered long before I came across Krishnamurti’s writings that if I want to fall asleep or relax, I just have to listen to the “noise” of the traffic. If you really listen closely like you’re listening to a symphony, you suddenly discover that it is not noise at all. Because what is noise? It’s a sequence of sounds without order or harmony to it. But in the sound of the traffic there is, in fact, order.

For example in a symphony, a passage starts, let’s say by string instruments, it is followed by an “answer” by wind instruments, then by another set, then back to the strings. It’s a dialogue or a dance, the instruments or their sound patterns gracefully talk to each other. Sitting in the concert hall and listening to the music, I always try to guess the pattern of “answers” that will come from this or that instrument. If I know the composer, for example, I am listening to Bach, then I know his style of making instruments talk to each other. The mathematical accuracy and solidity and, at the same time, great love are at the core of his music. And I can guess at least to a very slight degree what the answer will be. With an unknown composer, it’s more difficult but no less fascinating. For me, that’s one of the joys of listening to great music, one with a complex system of interactions between parts of the whole. To see how the melody is born from the interplay of sounds.

Well, with the traffic it’s the same, it turns out. When there is a loud signal sound by, say, a big bus, there is going to be a raw of more subtle sounds coming from smaller cars or the construction site somewhere on the street or children playing football nearby and shouting triumphantly just at that moment. The timing, the sequence, the relationship of the pitch, these are never haphazard, if you really listen into them. They come in a way to create a beautiful, harmonious canvas. Please believe me, I am not making this up. Just listen carefully once and you will notice.

And as Krishnamurti says, this creates an extraordinary change. A feeling of peace, being surrounded and caressed by the waves of sounds, coming in tides.

Perhaps that’s because if we do not discard something as noise but accept it as it is, it becomes kind to us and lets us take a rare look behind the curtains. I don’t know. Just try once, all I can say.