Building Community & Embracing Diversity

The Art of Compassionate Communication

Facilitation Skills: Decision Making & Conflict Resolution

Personal Empowerment & Leadership Skills

Celebrating Life:
Art & Creativity

Local, Bioregional & Global Outreach


2a. The Art of Compassionate Communication
Active and Deep Listening Giving and Receiving Feedback Compassionate Communication

Active and Deep Listening

The heart of good communication is a simple but profound capacity to listen. Listening requires we not only hear the words, but also embrace, accept, and gradually let go of our own inner clamouring. As we explore it, we discover that listening is an expansive activity. It gives us a way to perceive more directly the ways we participate in the world around us.

But listening, a subject we often take for granted, is very hard to do, and we are rarely prepared for it. Krishnamurti, the Indian philosopher, put the challenge this way:

I do not know if you have ever examined how you listen, it doesn’t matter to what, whether to a bird, to the wind in the leaves, to the rushing waters or how you listen in a dialogue with yourself to your conversation in various relationships with your intimate friends your wife or husband. If we try to listen we find it extraordinarily difficult, because we are always projecting our opinions and ideas, our prejudices, our background, our inclinations, our impulses; when they dominate, we hardly listen at all to what is being said. In that state there is no value at all. One listens and therefore learns, only in a state of attention a state of silence in which this whole background is in abeyance, is quiet; then, it seems to me, it is possible to communicate.  Krisnamurti, Talks and Dialogues

To listen, then, is to develop an inner silence. This is not a familiar habit for most of us. We often pay great attention to what is going on inside us, when actually what is required is a kind of disciplined self-forgetting. We must create a space in which listening can occur.

Learning to listen begins with recognizing how you are listening now. Generally, we are not all that conscious of how we listen. You can begin to listen by listening first to yourself and to your own reactions. Try to identify what you feel more carefully and directly. Beginning with the perception of your own feelings connects you to your heart and to the heart of your experience. To learn to be present, we must learn to notice what we are feeling now.


J. Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895–February 17, 1986) was a popular writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included (but was not limited to): the purpose of meditation, human relationships, and how to enact positive change in global society.
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The concept of nonviolence (ahimsa) and nonresistance has a long history in Indian religious thought. Gandhi was the first to apply it in political field on a huge scale.
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