Listening and Independence
“Even deaf mutes have expressions. Do not judge that they cannot possess any expression. Those who create expressions are not necessarily limited to those who are not deaf mutes. Deaf mutes do express themselves. Their voices should be heard and their utterance should be heeded. Unless you identify yourself with them, how can you meet them? How can you talk with them?” Not a Single Word, Dharma Discourse by John Daido Loori Roshi
True Dharma Eye, Case 165, The World Honored One Did Not Speak a Word
Are we listening? To anyone? Or are we just speaking to hear ourselves speak or to make our point?
When people don’t feel heard, they stop speaking…to us. They simply go speak to someone else.
I stopped going to church a couple months ago. A big part of it was that speaking was pointless. There was a certain status quo. It worked for some people. I was not among them.
I was tired of hearing excuses or simply not being noticed in the first place. The status quo had zero transparency or accountability, which served those in charge very well. There were no limits to their irresponsibility. And no one remaining with a voice to call them to account.
People were always saying, “That’s just so-and-so. That’s their way.” I heard tons of excuses and watched as people with integrity and self-respect left, one-by-one. People who thought for themselves left, leaving the good, obedient sheep behind to tend church. The average emotional age dropped from probably 30 to about 12. Good, obedient children are fabulous if you want to be in control of them. But let life hit them—hard. See what happens. When the chips are down, no one will be left with the emotional maturity to solve the problems that inevitably arise. What happened to the creative, intelligent people? They went somewhere they were heard.
Eventually, I realized that these dysfunctional systems were not exceptions to Western Christendom. They are the unavoidable result of following various authority figures’ interpretations of a book. The interpretations always manage to fuel the self-serving agendas of those in charge. These dysfunctional systems are the sum and substance of American Christianity. They are unapologetic. So am I. If thinking for myself and leaving this insanity behind makes me a heretic or pagan, I’m good with that.