Here is a parable I was read as a child that has stuck with me my entire life. Prince T’ai, who was to succeed his father as king, was sent to the great Master Pan Ku to learn the basics of being a good leader. The Master sent him alone to the forest and after one year, the prince was to return to describe the sound of the forest. When he returned he told the Master he could hear the cuckoos sing, the leaves rustle, the hummingbirds hum, the crickets chirp, the grass blow, the bees buzz and the wind whisper. When he had finished, the Master told him to go back to the forest to listen to what more he could hear. One morning, as the prince sat silently beneath the trees, he started to discern faint sounds unlike those he had ever heard before. The feeling of enlightenment enveloped the boy as he thought, “these must be the sounds the Master wished me to hear.”
When he returned to the temple, the Master asked him what more he had heard. “Master,” he said, “when I listened closely, I could hear the unheard…the sound of flowers opening, the sun warming the earth and the sound of the grass drinking the morning dew.” The Master nodded approvingly. “To hear the unheard,” remarked the Master, “is a necessary discipline to be a good leader.
For only when a leader has learned to listen to the people’s hearts, hearing their feelings uncommunicated, pains unexpressed and complaints not spoken, can he hope to inspire confidence in them, understand when something is wrong and meet their true needs. The demise of states comes when leaders listen only to superficial words and do not penetrate deeply into the souls of the people to hear their true opinions, feelings and desires.” This is a lesson we must heed as we gather together in our weekly chapter meetings.
Let’s apply the lesson learned of Master Pan Ku. Too often, we hear only the loudest voices, unable to hear that which is unspoken, yet it is that which is unheard that will give us the greatest insight into the hearts and souls of others. At each meeting, let’s spend time being still, quietly observant, and “in the moment” so we can listen for the uncommunicated, unexpressed and unspoken sounds of those around us.
I bet we will be surprised by what we hear and learn about the true opinions, feelings and desires of our fellow members!
I’ll be listening and I care,