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Look with intensity

Look with intensity

The Book of Life, January 8, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

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... It seems to me that learning is astonishingly difficult, as is listening also. We never actually listen to anything because our mind is not free; our ears are stuffed up with those things that we already know, so listening becomes extraordinarily difficult. I think—or rather, it is a fact—that if one can listen to something with all of one’s being, with vigor, with vitality, then the very act of listening is a liberative factor, but unfortunately you never do listen, as you have never learned about it. After all, you only learn when you give your whole being to something. When you give your whole being to mathematics, you learn; but when you are in a state of contradiction, when you do not want to learn but are forced to learn, then it becomes merely a process of accumulation. To learn is like reading a novel with innumerable characters; it requires your full attention, not contradictory attention. If you want to learn about a leaf—a leaf of the spring or a leaf of the summer—you must really look at it, see the symmetry of it, the texture of it, the quality of the living leaf. There is beauty, there is vigor, there is vitality in a single leaf. So to learn about the leaf, the flower, the cloud, the sunset, or a human being, you must look with all intensity.

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