Unit V.  Hearing

1.  Hearing as refined speech
2.  Intuition
3.  Blocks to intuition and third ear
4.  Community

Materials needed: Journal, collage-making & drawing materials (see book below)

Books needed:

Drawing the light from within*
Circle of Love*
“Language and meaning,” Parabola, Fall, 1995
Healing communication
Straight from the horse’s mouth


Intuitive drawing
The circle of love
Straight from the horse’s mouth
Soul collage
The prayer of the heart
Healing communication

* You may already have these books

“. . the principle of this Yoga . . [is] that that which is grosser is merged into that
which is more subtle.”  – Sir John Woodroffe

This quote sounds a little like Wilber and his hierarchies of consciousness, and well it might.  The Yogic attitude is that the journey is one of continual refinement of the senses such that they can be extended into subtler realms of beingness.  So we have seen that smell becomes consciousness (a form of detection), taste becomes discrimination, seeing becomes understanding and touch becomes sensitivity.  Each of these, in turn, is more subtle than the one before it.  Soon we will see what hearing can become and why hearing is still more subtle than the other senses.  Let me remind you that the senses also develop in infants initially in this progression and extend further and further away from the intimacy of the body as the child grows.  Smell is well developed at birth in all mammals who need to identify the mother as a source of food.  Taste comes soon after.  Seeing comes into focus within a few weeks after birth.  Hearing is present in utero, but as an organized perception may not be fully developed until the beginnings of speech at around the first and second year of age.

The fifth chakra is called Bharati-sthana, the abode of the Devi of speech.  It has the greatest number of petals which stand for speech.  The characters on the petals are the sixteen vowels in Sanskrit.  So we see that, along the way, speech has also become more refined and intricate.  Now, at this level, we are developing the capability to communicate without words,  non-verbally and without the interference of the intellectual mind.

Exercise: Intuitive drawing

Read chapter 3, Part 1 in Drawing the light from within and do the exercises.  Think about the phenomenon of synesthesia.  This is a matter of being able to link or allow the senses to interact.  So one can hear color or see sound.  Believe it or not, this is a real phenomenon that has been verified by researchers in the Soviet Union.  As you work, see if you can feel the color, touch with your eyes, hear the designs.  Try to be open to new experience that your schooling did not prepare you for.  Here we are trying to go beyond consensual ideas of how things are into a domain of light and energy where creativity is unlimited.  It is all energy, so it is not too difficult to imagine that we can cause it to take different forms.  What keeps us from doing that is thinking that we cannot.  

Hearing as Refined Speech

Speech and hearing are intimately connected.  Without hearing, it is virtually impossible for speech to develop and certainly not normally.  This is because learning how to speak is an interactive feedback process.  There is a “mechanism” in the speech centers of the brain that is prepared to sift out the regularities in heard speech in order to detect the organizing principles behind the particular language being learned.  Hearing feeds into this mechanism, then the child tries out a theory of what is happening and what causes what.  If correct, it is learned; if not, the child tries again.  Linguists have mapped out these sequences of learning events which are predictable.  If there is no hearing, the child is deaf.  However, it is possible to learn a sign language based on what is seen rather than heard. Helen Keller who was deaf, dumb and blind eventually learned to speak but she was very persistent and had the benefit of extensive, individual instruction that is not available to most children.  Incidentally, chimpanzees can also learn sign language.


In order to listen, to really hear what is being received, a person must surrender his/her need for control and ego agendas.  Since young children learning to speak have underdeveloped egos, it is easier for them to really hear what is coming across to them.  The Lewis article, “Making a Language of Childhood” and the Doyle article, “Verbum Ineffabilis” along with some of the stories in your Parabola edition of “Language and Meaning” will give you a feel for this childhood “innocence.”  Adults use stories to teach children the mores of the culture and how to understand the world around them.  That also helps prepare children for later learning to read because they discover that the written words on a page stand for something- specific sounds in the language.  We have already seen in earlier guidebooks how speaking is related to thinking.

What is most germane for us now is how to make the transition from hearing to listening.  Listening requires us to move out of our own selfish self-interest into the other person’s space which is an intuitive action.  Consider this conversation:

A: How is your writing going?

B: Oh, I’m still in the receptive stage.

A: Waiting for inspiration?

B: You could say that.

A: Well, inspiration is part of the creative process.  It’s the input part.  But you have to cast it into some form in order to communicate with others.  I always wait a day or two, then go to work trying to frame words around it.  When I was in college I used to write my term papers that way, just plug in the information then forget about it for a few days.  Soon, I’d wake up one morning and the whole thing was there all neatly organized.

B: (looks dazed)

A: So you can trust the process.  When is your partner coming home?

Clearly A is not listening but is mainly interested in her own mental activity.  B is left by the wayside wondering why she bothered.  Listening is an active process, one in which the response to a question is deepened by the first person indicating that the response was heard; such as, in the example above, A might say, “How do you experience the receptive stage?” or “What does a receptive stage mean to you?”  With this question, A waits for another response.  B then has an opportunity to go deeper into her original idea.  A has moved her focus from herself to B and truly wants to find out more about what she is experiencing.  I’m embarrassed to say that this conversation actually took place recently and I was the guilty party.

It is extremely difficult to undo habits of a lifetime.  Working as a college professor for nearly twenty years got me into the habit of talking while others listened to my “words of wisdom.”  That was a heady ego trip and has cost me considerable pain in trying to undo it.  The rewards of doing so come from being able to deepen friendships, creating a bond with someone based on true understanding and empathy.  Empathy is the critical word here.  It means we are able to step into the other person’s life and feel what they feel directly.  It is part of the direct perception paradigm that we will be examining in a minute.

If we cannot even listen to a friend, how can we expect to become silent enough for Spirit to come through to us?  The longing for connection that we all have is our motivation.  Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee talks about some of the things that help develop the quality of attention and trust needed to become quiet.

Exercise: The Circle of Love

Read the Introduction and chapter 2 in The circle of love by Vaughan-Lee (1999).    Also read the Fuller article in your Parabola and “Good Listening” by Margaret Wheatley (2002) in the IONS Noetic Sciences Review.   Think about how what Vaughan-Lee  says not only applies to our relationship with the Beloved, but to all our relationships.  Try to be specific in identifying with whom you are bonding or want to bond.  Then, for the next week, make notes about how often you interrupt someone or take the conversation away from them to focus on your own agenda.  If the converse is true and people are always interrupting you and you never get to put in your “two cents worth,” observe those occasions.  In relationship there should be a balance between giving and receiving the gift of listening.  So it is just as bad to always be the victim.  Reflect in your journal every night on what has happened in this arena during the day, and make any resolutions you deem important for change.  It is especially important to listen to children as the development of their self-esteem depends upon it.  And this means empathic listening, not just “Yeah, Nancy, eat your cereal.  I’m busy right now.”  

Going on silence is a spiritual practice designed to help you discover what it is that you want to say that is more important than anyone else’s input.  So, if you can’t catch yourself in the act, try silence for a while.  Notice also how the people who can do active listening seem to be well liked.  Who really listens to you?  How do you feel about him or her?  Do we love our pets because they don’t interrupt  us?  They do listen, you know.

While you are doing this exercise and reading in Vaughan-Lee, reflect on your relationship to the Beloved.  Do you have one?  If so, how do you communicate?  Who does the talking?  Can you actively listen to the One?  What would that look and feel like?  If you don’t communicate with the Beloved, could that be because you are not listening?  Even if you are not saying something, a busy mind is the same thing as incessant talking or interruptions.  Keep in mind that non-stop talking and mental chatter are both defense mechanisms.  So, if you do a lot of this, you might want to ask what you are afraid of.


Intuition is refined hearing.  It requires active listening and a silent mind.  We have all had intuitive experiences.  If you can recall the last time you did, you will probably remember that your mind was idle even if for only a momentary “gap.”  It is possible to learn how to maintain a quiet mind even in the midst of New York city traffic or a demanding job.  Many of those who can do this use mantra to supplant the internal as well as the external noise.  Another way is to gain control over your thinking process, so that when it is not appropriate you can simply turn off your mind.  I go into a meditative state when I have to wait in line, for example, instead of rehearsing how irritated I am at the delay.  In this age of accelerating change and frenetic activity, it is even more essential to learn how to do this for your own health if nothing else.

There is a great deal of good research  now that documents the existence of intuition.  Just recently, there was an article in the IONS Noetic Sciences Review (Radin, 2003) describing research that showed a significant increase in sustained, very high and worldwide coherent attention beginning two hours before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 (p. 13).  The odds of deviation from chance were 20 to 1.  And it lasted for about eight hours.   Radin also describes corroborating subsequent research.  How do we explain this worldwide attention before the attack if it is not intuition?  How do mothers know when their children are in trouble?  What enables trackers to find their prey or missing persons?  How do you know just the right thing to do on some occasions?  There is another whole world of cognition that school didn’t tell us about,  to say nothing of helping us to develop it.

Intuition is instantaneous and more like the quantum wave (Toben & Wolf, 1982, p. 131) which travels faster than light.  “A quantum jump is the movement of a thing from one place to another without going in-between. . . The thing just dissolves in the original spot and appears instantly at another spot. . . This is what we mean by sudden intuition or sudden knowing” (p. 131).  The authors also quote Wigner (1967) who presents evidence that consciousness influences the quantum wave function.  Wigner is a Nobel Laureate in case you think Wolf is a bit peculiar.

So here we have a basis for understanding direct perception, ESP, clairaudience, direct knowing and mind to mind communication.  All of these abilities exist in their own right.  The discipline of transpersonal psychology encourages its adherents to do empirical research on some of these phenomena.  So, if you would like to study it in more depth, I recommend you consult The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.  The IONS Noetic Sciences Review is also a good source as you have no doubt gathered by now.

Exercise: Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

This assignment may stretch your credibility, at least at first, so I ask your indulgence.  The book I am asking you to read is about animals.  However, it is the best thing I have found lately to help develop intuition.  All of what it says about animals works with people as well as the other animals with which you might want to communicate.

1.  Get a copy of Straight from the Horse’s Mouth by Amelia Kinkade (2001) and begin reading it.  Do the exercises and meditations as you go along.  If you don’t have a cat or the animal in question, try it with a person or a child.  Stay with this book  throughout the rest of this unit until you finish the first six chapters.  The Introduction and chapters 1, 4, and 5 relate most closely to intuition in general.  Chapter 6.  “The Body Scan” helps develop direct knowing and the author uses it to find a missing cat.  Chapter 2. “Clairvoyance: Mind to Mind” is about direct mind to mind communication.  Chapter 3. “Clairsentience: Heart to Heart” is about communication of feelings and would relate most closely to the section in this unit on community.  You can save Chapters 7 and 8 for later units.  Look for parallels with your own experience either with animals or people.  Make notes about new information and try out some of the things she suggests.

2.  Read the Guenon (1995) article “The Language of the Birds” in your Parabola.  This discusses communication with higher levels of consciousness or beings.

Mind to mind communication

The fact of mind to mind communication means that it is possible to teach through the medium of intuition as many gurus do.  My first experience of this was at a gathering of Buddhists at Naropa Institute on the occasion of a visit by Jamgon Kontrol, a Tibetan monk who had come to visit Trungpa.  Since I was just a student at the time, I was sitting quietly with a burning question in my mind that I didn’t dare ask until all the dignitaries had finished their discussion.  Suddenly, to my amazement, the answer to my question came directly, clearly and powerfully from the visitor who also smiled in my direction.

Irina Tweedie (1986) in Daughter of Fire gives a detailed account of how she was taught by her guru (in the Sufi tradition) largely in a mind to mind fashion.  Swami Radha did this too and was capable of reducing a disciple to tears of ecstasy with a glance.  I think it is probably true that most of the secret doctrines of both Buddhism and Hinduism were transmitted in this manner.  It does serve to keep the teachings out of the hands of those who are not ready for them.  Far from being exclusive or snobbish, this is necessary to avoid spiritual emergencies in those whose bodies are not sufficiently attuned to the higher frequencies of the practices.  Kundalini psychosis is a well-known disorder caused by messing around with kundalini energies prematurely.  There are several articles in your Parabola that speak to other ways of communicating spiritual wisdom.  Try “Word of Skill” by Freeman (1995, 63-76) which is about Celtic seership and connection to the otherworld.  “Ambiguous Truths, True Ambiguities” by Lipsey 52-58 is about the Delphic Oracle.  “The Beauty of Innuendos” by Beck (1995, 86-89) is about sacred clowns and fools who teach us how to return to our childhood innocence.


 All of the eastern spiritual traditions know about intuition.  It is the basis of their cognitive systems contrary to the western ones which are intellectual.  I was astounded by how complex intuitive systems are, and I can’t  go into much detail about them here because it would take forever.  However, I will say they are not only more complex but more exciting because they tap into the spiritual domain to which intellect has no access.  We are talking about higher levels of consciousness and beingness.  More awareness.  And, since this is a unit on language and hearing, we should look at the language of intuition which is symbolism.

A symbol is something, audible or visual, that refers to something else.  It can be an object, a drawing, picture, word or series of words, music, rhythm as in drumming or a mental image as in dreaming or visualization practice. [See Harris (1995, 16-20) in Parabola for a description of the origins of writing.]  The great thing about symbols is that they can carry more than one meaning at a time.  As an example, some years ago I made a collage of my soul.  I was directed to cut out pictures from magazines and paste them on a large sheet of paper however I wanted to.  As I sat on the floor thumbing through the magazines, I slipped into “child mode.”  Remember how it felt to cut and paste?  The result was very satisfactory.  Somehow, in a way I didn’t understand at the time, it was me.  Imagine my excitement when shown how to interpret the symbols and their placement on the paper.  A relatively strange person was able to tell me a great deal about my inner Self.  And I recognized mySelf.  

Exercise: Soul Collage

Make a soul collage for yourself.  Find a time when you will not be interrupted for about an hour.  First gather your materials.  You will need a pile of old magazines, scissors, paste and a large sheet of paper.  When you are ready, sit quietly for about five minutes to allow yourself to center and relax.  Focus on contacting your soul.  then simply go through the magazines and cut out pictures that appeal to you or “speak” to you.  Then place and paste them on a large sheet of paper in whatever arrangement you like.

At the end of this unit are ideas for how to interpret the meanings of your symbols.
However, I urge you not to peek and read them before you construct your collage as doing so will pollute your picture with someone else’s ideas and you won’t get a true reading on your own soul.  So, if you can, stop here and construct the collage before proceeding.

When you are finished, journal what you have learned about yourself and put the picture up where you can live with it for a while.

Blocks to Intuition

Several blocks to intuition have already been mentioned: mind chatter and need for controlExcessive talking also prevents not only intuition but also communication.  Because the other person cannot get a word in, there is no chance of being contradicted, interrupted or attacked.  There is usually no substance in what is being said either.  In fact, talking can be experienced as aggression by the unfortunate listener.  Talking and mental activity go together.  It is like a stream of consciousness being vocalized through talking.  One thing leads to another without benefit of discrimination or discernment.  This is the height of unconsciousness and lack of consideration for others.

Self-importance goes along with excessive talking.  It seeks to have all the attention directed at oneself.  It inflates ego and self-image to make oneself out to be better than others, or more knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, the “knowledge” in this case is usually just information rather than the true wisdom we are seeking.  The dominance-seeking that lies behind self-importance is anathema to intuition.  The push of energy is from the inside out, rather than a pull or invitation for what is  outside to enter in.

Self-will also blocks intuition for some of the same reasons.  If I want my own way, there is no room left for any messages from beyond my little ego.  The need for control is part of this in that the ego tries to stop all activity that it cannot manage for its own selfish ends.  Defenses are set up around the perimeter of the little self and strictly maintained.  Intuition couldn’t get through if it tried.  Cognitive filters are often put into service to support these ego machinations.  We simply do not perceive anything that is contrary to the way we see things.  This may make us feel more secure, but it scarcely works since each barrier makes us more afraid that we cannot maintain the bulwarks.

Lying is another form of blockage.  It is particularly germane to speech and language as it often takes the form of verbal denial.  Lying is deception and draws another veil over the recognition of who we truly are.  As such it desecrates speech which is a divine gift to humanity.

Well, you might ask, is there any remedy for all these blocks to intuition?  How can we peel away the veils that separate us from each other and from the Beloved?  I think the answer might be the same in all spiritual traditions.

If prayer is but the voice of the superficial mind, the result is endless inner chatter.  
Prayer goes deeper.  More precisely: prayer issues from an eternal well within you.  
The presence that prays within you is your soul. . . a continuation of the Holy Spirit.  
    – John O’Donohue (1999)
It is the Beloved within that we reach through prayer.  In this kind of prayer, we are not asking for favors or for something we think we need but rather opening our hearts to discover what the Beloved would like to say to us.  The soul is often alienated from our lives and it isn’t unlikely to assume that it gets lonely and feels completely isolated.  Prayer is like drinking at the well of the Holy Spirit to quench a bottomless thirst.  This kind of prayer opens the mind as well as the heart to receive information from beyond the rounds of daily life experience.  This, too, is intuition.  We can know what God is like.  We can know the future as well as the past.  We can know what is in the minds of other people - if we wanted to.  We can journey beyond the earth into space and time.  This is the ethereal region of the fifth chakra.  It is a domain that is your birthright.  But you must prepare yourself to claim it.  And that requires silence. . . and patience. . . and trust in the Beloved, that the insights will come when you are ready for them, and only then.

Exercise: The Prayer of the Heart

Read Chapter 1. “The Prayer of the Heart” in The circle of love by Vaughan-Lee just before a meditation session.  Then as you sit for the meditation, let his words settle and echo in your heart.  Allow your mind to clear and your heart to open in order to welcome the Beloved.  Wait in patience and gratitude to see if you have a response.  You may not get results the first time, so practice acceptance of that and persist.  Get in touch with your longing, for that is irresistable to the Beloved.


“We are One” the bumper sticker says.  It’s true, you know.  There is no real separation between us.  We set up our barriers and try to convince ourselves that we are individual fortresses.  But we are so interdependent that we could hardly survive without the presence of other people especially in the modern age when practically no one grows their own food.  The idea that we live contained safely within the confines of our bodies isn’t true either.  The body is full of holes at the energetic level.  In fact, with a strong enough microscope, we would disappear entirely.  Part of the reason for the mind chatter is the need to constantly reassure ourselves that we exist.  So we have to learn how to live in community.  And community depends on communication between the individuals in it.  Hence inclusion of this topic in this unit.

Exercise: Healing Communication

Rick Phillips has done extensive work in helping people improve their relationships through communication.  He begins with what is essentially prayer.  Please read the Preface and Chapter 1. “Listening to the Higher Self” in Healing communication (Phillips, 1996).  This book will pick up where the last section left off and will carry over into the following unit.  As you read, look for connections between community and communication.  It might be useful to list the things they have in common for future reference.

Independence vs Social Responsibility

There always seems to be a slight rub between these two goals.  We cannot become so autonomous that we can disregard the feelings and needs of others on the one hand.  Nor can we fail to release our social responsibilities occasionally or we would become an automaton or slave to convention.  Somehow, we need to achieve a working balance between the two.  In this country, we worship individuality and independence to the point that we have millions of people who are homeless, poverty stricken, abandoned or otherwise neglected.  We even fail to see them on the streets of the city as we walk by.  In some other cultures, the pendulum swings in the other direction and people seem to lack any signs of independent existence or even of a wish to have a separate identity.  

Within each of these extremes there exist many who do not fit the mold of their own culture and who are deeply depressed and alienated by their estrangement.  Some of these groups may be contributing to the upheaval in consciousness the world is experiencing at this time.  There is a restlessness abroad that foretells a major upheaval in worldwide society.  We must become and act as a single world community because these voices are clamoring to be heard and acknowledged.  This is sacred work.  And we must listen to each other or we are going to destroy the planet in our agonies.

How can we bring about active listening at the United Nations?  In the White House?  In Iraq?  In Palestine and Israel?  These are the hot spots at the time of this writing, but they can pop up anywhere that people or groups attempt to protect their insularity.  We must find a common ground that will enable us to trust each other, so we can live together in harmony and love.  To do this, we need spiritual support and the wisdom to make empathic choices.  

I read recently that America is the most atheistic country in the world.  Traditional religions no longer fulfill our spiritual needs.  This is mainly because we do not understand how to interpret their teachings.  The original scriptures were meant to be understood symbolically.  And, if we approach them intuitively looking for symbolic meanings, we find that they are still completely relevant to our modern day problems and dilemmas.  

Fundamentalism does not work.  Self-righteousness is another block to intuition and to interdependent communication.  No one can be right about everything.  Growth and development of individuals or of societies requires flexibility in order for them to expand and reach for new potentials.  So, if we learn how to seek answers on the higher levels of consciousness through intuition, we may find some answers to our international and national problems.

All-Oneness and Individuality

Whether I see myself as a lone individual confronting the shattering disaster of September 11 or as a part of the divine One is only a matter of mental focus.  The truth is that I am both at the same time.  Which I perceive is a matter of how and where I direct my attention. . . and what part of me is doing the perception.  Ego is inclined to see things in dualities as either. . . or.  The soul knows it is both. . . and.  At some point, we must give up being petulant children clamoring for God to solve our problems for us or to change the world to suit our inclinations.  At some point, we have to acknowledge that we are Spirit as well as little me’s.  And we are reluctant to do that, not because it is heretic or blasphemous, but because we are afraid of the responsibility and the changes that will be wrought in our lives if we truly acknowledge that identity.  The unity-consciousness we seek means we are God, not that we are in some kind of relationship with a patriarchal figure that can take care of us.  As the masses of people achieve higher levels of consciousness, we are going to have to deal with this issue.  And to do that, we must discover how to communicate with each other on a whole new level of presence and compassion.

Exercise: Clairsentience

1.  Read Chapter 3. “Clairsentience: Heart to Heart” in Straight from the Horse’s Mouth and do the exercises.  If you have not yet read Chapter 4, do that now too.  Journal your feelings.  It might be helpful to draw or create some music or a dance to express  your feelings about a world community.

2. Continue chapter 3 in Drawing the light from within and do part 2, “Creating Light and Form from a Line Drawing.”  In exercise 2, use the theme of all-oneness or clairsentience for your drawing.   When you finish, put your drawing up where you can see it and see if its meanings change for you over time.  Or you can share what you are doing with a friend or family member.  Journal your experiences.

Living Our Wholeness

As you know renunciation of attachments is an integral part of the spiritual journey.  It may result eventually in the feeling of being in the world but not of it.  Things of the world and the ordinary activities going on around you may have lost their interest for you.  At first, this is not entirely an unmixed blessing.  You may feel like you are not having any fun any more.  Shopping is no longer enticing.  Television becomes more irritating.  There may not be anything you really want to do.  Don’t despair.  This is an interim or transition period between being stuck in the world of  the senses and the joy of true liberation.  We may have to learn how to live our wholeness because we have not done it before.  No one has taught us how to either, so it may be trial and error for a while.  Patience and acceptance apply here as well.

Exercise: Wholeness

1.  Read Chapter 6: “Forgetfulness” and Chapter 7: “The Invisible Center” in The circle of love.  Then go into your prayer space and create a ritual of remembrance to precede your meditations.  It need not be extensive, but should create an atmosphere of receptivity.  Then sit with your new insights.  

2.  If you are having trouble keeping attention on the Beloved, try drawing a picture of It, or find a picture or statue that can represent It to you.  Then sit and concentrate on the representation until you can feel yourself merge with it.  You may use a candle flame instead if personifying the Beloved does not work for you.

Interpretation of soul collage

I hope you don’t mind my using my own collage as an example in what follows.  A concrete example helps more than words sometimes.  One of the figures in my collage was an owl.  At the time I wondered why I had selected it, not one but three owls placed at different places on the paper.  I discovered that they had different meanings depending upon where they were placed.  The largest one was just left of center swooping downward.  Another was in the lower left quadrant and was smaller, holding a dead mouse in its mouth.  The third was in the lower right quadrant and was a small, white baby owl.  Now what does this all mean?  My first take on it was that owls are wise.   Then, that they are all-seeing, next came clear vision.  The teacher mentioned they are shape-shifters.  And I had an intuition that, as in Native American lore, they come to receive the dead.  My book on symbols adds wisdom and night, solitude, desolation and blindness to this list.  However, it is the individual’s meanings for a symbol that are the important ones, and only the individual can know what those are.  

The four quadrants of a page also have meaning.  The lower right is the physical realm, the lower left is the emotional realm, the upper left is the mental realm, and the upper right is the spiritual realm.  The center represents your core.  Where images overlap two quadrants, they relate to both of them or connect them in some way.  Now, what do we have here?

Remember that we are talking about soul here, not actual physical occurrence.  So what would it mean to have a huge owl swooping down in the mental and emotional quadrants?  It might mean the death of old ways of being or of the obstacles in my path.  It might mean that the emotional self is as wise as the mind.  It might be a warning that the mind can turn on itself (shapeshifting).  The trick of interpretation is to select the correct meaning for you and this is done intuitively.  You look for confirmation of the truth for you from your heart center.  When you hit upon the right meaning, there will be a kind of “click” of recognition.

Now why would you care about my collage?

First compare what I have just written about my interpretation of the meaning with what you initially thought owls meant before I told you what it meant to me.  There will be some differences that are due to individual experience with the object of the symbol.  The similarities are more likely to be associated with collective, cultural or archetypal meanings.  Dream interpretation involves the same phenomenon.  Images in dreams work just like any other symbols and carry multilevels of meanings.  

Furthermore, there are interactions between symbols which help disclose the meanings.  A long, dark, empty corridor in the mental realm suggests that the owl in that domain might represent depression or discouragement.  Or, on another level, it could refer to an empty mind as in the emptiness of the void referred to earlier.  The shapeshifting aspect could refer to the ability to shift in and out of empty mind via meditation.  You can see that this is not a static situation.  And the whole point of this example is to point out that what is noticed in the picture changes over time.  It has been about ten years since I made the collage, and it has been hanging on my wall ever since.  I look at it from time to time and see something new and different in it at each viewing.  The soul has many facets and develops over time.  Symbols enable us to keep up with the changes.

Now return to your collage and seek out the meanings of each symbol and the implications of their various locations in the quadrants of your picture.


Beck, P.  (1995).  “The Beauty of Innuendos.” Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3), 86-89.

Cornell, J.  (1990).  Drawing the light from within: Keys to awaken your creative power.  New York: Prentice-Hall.

Freeman, M.  (1995).  “Word of Skill.”  Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3) 63-69.

Fuller, R.  (1995).  “On Listening and the Word.”  Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3) 33-38.

Guenon, R.  (1995).  “The Language of the Birds.”  Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3) 70-75.

Harris, T.  (1995).  “The Word Made Flesh.”  Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3), 16-20.

Kinkade, A.  (2001).  Straight from the horse’s mouth: How to talk to animals and get answers.  New York: Crown Publishers.

Lipsey, R.  (1995).  “Ambiguous Truth, True Ambiguities.”  Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 20, (3) 52-58.

O’Donohue, J.  (1999).  Eternal echoes: Exploring our yearning to belong.  New York: HarperCollins.

Phillips, R.  (1996).  Healing communication: A psychospiritual approach. Glorieta, NM: Deva Publishing.

Radin, D.  (2003).  “For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Question of Global Consciousness.”  IONS Noetic Sciences Review, 63, 8-13.

Toben, B. & Wolf, F.  (1982).  Space-time and beyond: Toward an explanation of the unexplainable.  New York: Dutton.

Tweedie, I.  (1986).  Daughter of fire: A diary of a spiritual training with a Sufi Master.  Nevada City: Blue Dolphin Publishing.

Vaughan-Lee, L.  (1999).  The circle of love.  Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center.

Wheatley, M.  (2002).  “Good Listening.”  IONS Noetic Sciences Review, 60, 14-17.

Wigner, E.  (1967).  Symmetries and reflections.  Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

This unit has dealt with listening as a higher form of the sense of hearing.  Unit 6. Persisting Issues will examine a few of the final tail ends that need to be cut off before liberation can be achieved.

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