Learning to Listen

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself,
and all the while 
a great wind is bearing
me across the sky.

-Ojibwa saying

The best way to frame the idea of listening for our Genius callings is to embrace the notion that all the while we are searching and striving for our goals, aspirations, and dreams, there is something else that is also wanting us to get there, and is calling us forward towards it. In other words, we are not alone in the struggle for self-expression and fulfillment; something else is making an effort from the other side of the equation, trying to pull us towards what we want. This something else is the guardian spirit of Genius, which already knows what it is that will fulfill us and provide us with a rich and enjoyable life. Remember that our own unique Genius came into this life with us with a fully completed blueprint of what we were intended to do in order to become individuals; non-divided and whole people. But most of us are completely unaware of what this pull of Genius feels like, or how to recognize it when it is actively calling us towards something specific.

As I write this book, my wife and I are actively searching for a house to buy. We have identified the parameters of what we can afford as well as what characteristics the house needs to have in order to provide each of us with what we value and treasure about the idea of a “home”. The process of searching, seemingly endlessly for the “just right” house is an extremely emotional one as we mentally picture ourselves in each one, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to feel our way through the search. All the while, I’ve been keeping myself aware of the fact that one of these houses is calling for us; one of these houses is the place where the next round of life lessons will take place; one of these houses wants us to be there. So while we are searching, we are also listening with as much awareness that we can summon to which one is waiting for us to show up and recognize it.

The key to being able to “listen” to what is calling us towards it, or to hear the voice of our Genius is to develop the knack of “tuning in” to our feeling selves. The feeling part of us gets signals directly from Genius in the form of images that arise simply out of nowhere. People describe some peak moments of hearing their Genius as “at that moment, something in me knew that I was supposed to…..”. Uncovering the knack to live in these moments, which are timeless kairos moments adds the Genius dimension to our lives, and the more we take these moments of mysterious clarity seriously the more inner guidance we can receive and use. As we develop the habit of giving credence to what is speaking to us in the quiet corner of our awareness, we can’t expect anyone else to understand or agree with what we’re doing. It is a solitary endeavor; we have to risk being misunderstood by others in order to more fully understand ourselves and our Genius spirit.

There is a Sufi story that illustrates this point.

Once there were four friends who travelled together frequently on spiritual pilgrimages. On one particular journey they found themselves lost in an African desert with no food or water left. They decided to call upon God to give them an answer as to what they should do next, and they decided that they should each make individual vows to change their lives for the better in light of their precarious position.

One of the friends vowed to do more to help the poor; another made their vow to be more contemplative; the next friend committed herself to taking better care of her family. The fourth friend however, made a peculiar vow. He said simply: “I will not eat elephant meat.” His three companions were upset with him. Surely this was not a vow that was worthy of God’s intervention on their behalf. It seemed a convenient way for the fourth friend to remain unchanged and unrepentant. When they asked him why he had made such a strange and worthless vow, he simply said: “I don’t know. It just occurred to me in the moment and it felt right.”

A few hours later, as the friends were languishing in the hot desert sun, a baby elephant wandered into their camp. The first three friends saw this as a sign that God had sent them something to eat as a result of their vows to change themselves for the better. They killed and cooked the baby elephant and ate the meat. When they offered some of the life-sustaining food to the fourth friend, he declined to eat, remembering his now very inconvenient vow.

As night fell, and the four lay asleep on the sand, a huge mother elephant came charging towards them. One by one, the mother elephant smelled the breath of the first three friends, picked them up by her trunk, and smashed their bodies down onto the ground. She made her way to the fourth friend, smelled his breath, picked him up with her trunk and placed him on her back. She carried him all throughout the night through the desert until morning, where she dropped him at the edge of a town, and walked away.

In our lives, we are given no guarantee that things will work out the way we want them to. But there is a way that things want to work out. Listening to our Genius spirit puts us on the path of this way, and when we truly see that this path is actually our own path, and that we have help even in our darkest times, we can begin to trust that we are more than what we appear to be. We are larger and more expansive than we had previously thought. We are deeply connected to a mysterious source of life that moves in the depths of our awareness.



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