Listening: Readings from Inter Faith Week 2017

Interfaith Week 2017
Tuesday 14th November, Kendal Town Hall
Readings and prayers on the theme of Listening

Introduction by Kendal Mayor, Cllr Andy Blackman



Proverbs 19: 20-21

Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that shall stand.



Listen, O drop, give yourself up without regret,
and in exchange gain the Ocean.
Listen, O drop, bestow upon yourself this honor,
and in the arms of the Sea be secure.
Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An Ocean wooing a drop!
In God’s name, in God’s name, sell and buy at once!
Give a drop, and take this Sea full of pearls.

[Rumi: Mathnawi IV 2619–22]


Native American Proverb

When an elder speaks, be silent and listen.

Guard your tongue in youth, and in age you may mature a thought that will be of service to your people.

From: The Soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears    Guy A Zona


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Are You Listening?


It’s all talk – small talk, big talk,
Twitter, snapchat, Facebook, text:
‘I will be heard, seen, noticed,
Recognized – look everybody,
This is me!’
No time to think before another reply
Is demanded, another answer required;
Bowing to the god of social media.
Stay on call, keep in the loop,
Pull out of the gang at your peril.
(The pressure’s on to leap before you look;
We are all forgetting how to listen.)


(The following story is related by a young man
Who found our Church having lived on the streets for seven years.)

“I walked into the police-station
Starving to death, and you
Didn’t listen to me!
A week without food and water,
I was skeletal, hollow-cheeked.
I felt as if my kidneys
Were being squeezed in a vice,
As if spears were spiking
My empty stomach.
And you smiled knowingly,
And you thought to yourself,
‘Here’s another one of those wasters
Who spends all his money on drugs and drink
And has nothing left for his food!
Serve him right.’
And you asked me to leave
And told me to go and get myself a job.

You didn’t listen to me,
Your heart was hard,
The heart of the world.
You refused to believe me
When I said I’d never steal.
All I wanted was a sandwich,
But you wouldn’t give me one.
I went back on the streets,
Collapsed, and actually died briefly,
Glimpsing a better world,
And all because you didn’t listen to me.
You didn’t listen with your heart.”


The Spirit of Christ
Got through to the Nephite people
When they finally forgot about themselves;
Their selfishness, their over-worldliness.
Three times he had called to them,
Three times they failed to hear.
But then, when they heard the voice
They beheld that it was not a voice of thunder;
Neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise;
But behold it was a still voice of perfect mildness,
As if it had been a whisper,
And it did pierce even to the very soul.
It was the voice of peace.
It was the voice of conscience,
It was the voice of thought,
It was the voice of feeling,
It was the voice of knowledge,
It was the voice of love,
It was the voice of God.

Mike Humphreys
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)



The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.


Proverbs of Africa

If I listen, I have the advantage; if I speak, they have it.

Privation has no voice and suffering cannot speak.

            From: The house of the heart is never full.   Guy A Zona



“O My friend, listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes.”               

“Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit…”     



Baha’u’llah’s Revelation affirms that the purpose of our lives is to know God and to attain His presence. Our true identity is our rational soul, whose free will and powers of understanding enable us to continually better ourselves and our society. Walking a path of service to God and to humanity gives life meaning and prepares us for the moment the soul separates from the body and continues on its eternal journey towards its Maker.

The cultivation of spiritual qualities or virtues in this world is inseparable from an ongoing refinement of our conduct in which our actions increasingly come to reflect the nobility and integrity with which every human being is endowed. Such spiritual qualities are not acquired through focusing on the self, they are acquired through serving others. Listening to others is a fundamental part of this process.

Courtesy, caring, fairness, empathy, compassion, friendliness, understanding, in fact most virtues, require an ability and willingness to listen. To listen wholeheartedly, without judgment, attentively, with discernment and compassion.

The Tongue of Wisdom proclaimeth: He that hath Me not is bereft of all things. Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me. I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.

And likewise He saith: The heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness.

O my friend! Vast oceans lie enshrined within this brief saying. Blessed are they who appreciate its value, drink deep therefrom and grasp its meaning, and woe betide the heedless. This lowly one entreateth the people of the world to observe fairness, that their tender, their delicate and precious hearing which hath been created to hearken unto the words of wisdom may be freed from impediments and from such allusions, idle fancies or vain imaginings as ‘cannot fatten nor appease the hunger’, so that the true Counsellor may be graciously inclined to set forth that which is the source of blessing for mankind and of the highest good for all nations. “                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Baha’u’llah


GreenSpirit              Extinction – the sound of silence

In 1962 Rachel Carson’s sentinel book Silent Spring called us to our senses. Today, we can all witness climate change’s devastating impact on our world. We just have to stop and listen.

Soundscape Ecology is a new science – the study of nature’s sounds – and Bernie Krause is one of its pioneers. For nearly five decades he has recorded the symphony of wild sounds: the gurgle of gushing streams; the rustle of leaves; the melody of birds; the croaks and bellows of frogs and mammals. His recordings are a rich and vibrant celebration of life and biodiversity.

“Natural soundscapes are a narrative of place. They contain information vital to our understanding of the natural world,” says Krause. “They provide feedback to us as to how well we are doing in relationship to a given environment, whether it is under stress, or thriving.”

Bernie Krause, now 77, has devoted his life to documenting the sounds of the world’s many natural habitats. If, however, his earlier recordings were a chronicle of the Earth’s rich biodiversity, his more recent work is a testament to the planet’s decline.

The soundscapes “speak eloquently to all of the climate issues we are now confronting,” Krause says. “Global warming, severe weather shifts, earlier and later warm seasons, shifts in the density and diversity of bird, frog and mammal populations. All of these factors are conveyed.”

Of the 3,700-plus habitats represented in his archive, more than 50 percent are now either “altogether silent or so radically altered because of human endeavour, that they can no longer be heard in any of their original voice.”

“These are soundscapes that no one will ever experience again in their natural state,” he says. “They exist now only as an abstraction, a digital acoustic impression of what we once had.”

Scientists estimate that one-quarter of the world’s species may be driven to extinction because of climate change by 2050. That number could rise to 50 percent by 2100 – within the lifetime of people born today.

“A great silence is spreading over the natural world even as the sound of man is becoming deafening,” Krause wrote in his 2012 book, The Great Animal Orchestra.

Listen carefully and you will hear, little by little, the vast orchestra of life is in the process of being silenced.

mark rotherham



Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it.

When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others.

Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may hold for you……….”

From Quaker Faith & Practice, Advices and Queries


There will follow an explanation of the Quaker way of worship which is based on silent waiting. This practice recognises that the deeper realities of our faith go beyond words.

Silence ……to be followed by shaking hands.


Churches Together in Kendal and District

1 Samuel 3 1-10

The Lord Calls Samuel

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.

3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.

9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”


Buddhist               Mindful Listening

The great value of mindfulness practice can be found in the ordinary activities of daily life. It is not necessary to engage in extraordinary pursuits to realize the full depth and breadth of Buddhist practice. Listening is one of the ordinary, daily activities that can serve as a powerful vehicle for cultivating mindfulness, insight, and freedom. Dharma practice is to develop the ability to “see clearly;” listening well is a way to do this. Through listening we can better appreciate what others are saying and gain greater self-understanding….

To listen well, it is helpful to distinguish listening from hearing.  Listening is an active, deliberate activity while hearing doesn’t require any effort or intention…..

Listening mindfully is to intentionally bring greater awareness to the experience of listening rather than listening habitually or perhaps half-heartedly. To make it a mindfulness practice we also give priority to listening for the purpose of listening rather than letting another purpose dominate. We attend to listening in such a way that we both listen better and are aware of our attitude while listening….

Mindful listening requires a willingness to put aside, at least temporarily, the agendas, preferences, opinions, and judgments that interfere with being able to listen well. At the same time, it can involve actively noticing the internal impact and response you have to what is heard.…

Without mindfulness, listening can sometimes be done with eagerness—even impatience—for someone who is talking to finish. An internal pressure to speak, or having anticipatory thoughts, can interfere with our full listening to what others are saying. In contrast, to listen mindfully is to be generous with our time; to live in the flow of time, each thing allowed its own time.

You know you are listening mindfully when you continue to listen after someone has stopped speaking. Listen to the silence.…Such a pause.…gives you time to digest what was said. It is also a time to discover what you want to say before you actually say it. Such self-awareness can protect you from saying things you later regret.…

Mindful listening is embodied listening… This means that you don’t just listen with your ears. Embodied listening includes assuming a posture that supports better listening. Perhaps sitting up straighter with the chest open. Perhaps turning toward the person who is speaking. It can be helpful to assume a posture or a gesture that indicates you are listening. Perhaps leaning forward slightly. Or nodding your head to the points the person is making. By being actively involved in listening we listen better. It also helps the speaker to know we are really listening….

Mindful listening is a great way to cultivate greater mindfulness in daily life. Listening is always a present moment activity; when we listen we are present. When we listen actively and receptively we are developing the faculties needed for the practice of mindfulness. Practicing mindful listening is a foundation for the more difficult task of speaking mindfully. Until we have a strong capacity to stay mindful while we speak, it is good to remember the saying that “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen more than we speak.”

By Gil Fronsdal The Insight Meditation Center, California USA


Read by Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada)



Right Listening: Companion To Right Speech

By: David Xi-Ken Shi 

I want to speak to you today about one of the most important dimensions to the Eightfold Path’s element of Encompassing & Corrective Speech. I am thinking about the learned skill of listening. I say learned skill, because it is truly a skill that requires special development. It seems, we are not born with this particular tool for communication. Listening requires taming the ego-driven addiction to being centre stage, and always trying to overcome another’s “air time”. To speak is to articulate words that convey meaning, and to listen is to be aware of the words being spoken. Human speech is a process then that requires both speaking and listening simultaneously in order to express ideas, emotions, instructions, desires, and other quite human expectations to others. It is of great importance in human relations. So, when Siddhartha Gotama spoke about Right Speech, he was including both sides of the communication equation; listening as well as skilful means of intentional speech….

….for communication to take place it is not just enough to let others talk, we have to genuinely listen to them when they do. To genuinely listen, we have to close our mouths and open our minds so that the other person’s words are not just heard but comprehended. Being a good listener helps us understand people and it also helps us understand ideas. The Buddha knew that listening is an important factor in education. He said: “There are five advantages of listening to the dharma, What five? One hears things not heard before, clarifies things heard before, dispels doubts, straightens one’s ideas, and one’s mind is delighted.” (Anguttara Nikaya III 248) Before teaching the dharma, the Buddha would often say to his audience ‘listen carefully, pay attention and I will speak’. A popular Theravada saying is that we have one mouth and two ears and, therefore, we should listen twice as much as we talk.



Read by John Gerrard Upasaka Sumedha BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada)



The Golden Rule of Friendship is to listen to others as you would have them listen to you.

Listen is an anagram of Silent.

When you talk you are only repeating what you already know, when you listen you may learn something new.


Help Us to Listen

God of listening, God of peace, In our hearts may you increase,
Till our flow of words shall cease, and we hear you.
Listening is the hardest skill, Silences we strain to fill,
Far too restless to be still and just hear you.
If our well-planned words defeat Words of others that we meet,
Hesitant and incomplete, Father, hear them.
If the insights that we seek Come from someone tired and weak,
Looking for a chance to speak, Help us hear them.

Janet Shepperson,     From 1,000 World Prayers – an anthology by Marcus Braybrooke




The Inter Faith Network for the UK works to promote understanding, cooperation and good relations between organisations and persons of different faiths in the UK.

It does this through providing opportunities for linking and sharing of good practice, providing advice and information to help the development of new inter faith initiatives and the strengthening of existing ones. It raises awareness within wider society of the importance of inter faith issues and develops programmes to increase understanding about faith communities, including both their distinctive features and areas of common ground.

The Inter Faith Network’s member bodies include national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith organisations; and academic institutions and bodies concerned with multi faith education.


Our Vision

Our vision is of a society where there is understanding of the diversity and richness of the faith communities in the UK and the contribution that they make; and where we live and work together with mutual respect and shared commitment to the common good.

Our Mission

Working with faith communities, inter faith organisations, educators and others to increase understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths and to widen public awareness of the distinctive religious traditions in the UK.

Working to achieve this through: supporting and encouraging inter faith initiatives and sharing good practice between these; helping create opportunities for mutual learning and tackling prejudice; and offering opportunity for engagement between faith communities and Government and other public agencies on relevant issues.

Our Values

The values which we aspire to reflect in all our work are:

  • Service to others
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Trust
  • Consultative and cooperative working
  • Valuing diversity
  • Inclusiveness
  • Listening and openness
  • Courtesy
  • Mutual respect
  • Respecting dissent and people’s right to express this