Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech, and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering.
Never in the history of humankind have we had so many means of communication -- television, telecommunications, telephones, fax machines, wireless radios, hot lines, and red lines -- but we still remain islands. There is so little communication between the members of one family, between the individuals in society, and between nations. We suffer from so many wars and conflicts. We surely have not cultivated the arts of listening and speaking. We do not know how to listen to each other. We have little ability to hold an intelligent or meaningful conversation. The universal door of communication has to be opened again. When we cannot communicate, we get sick, and as our sickness increases, we suffer and spill our suffering on other people. We purchase the services of psychotherapists to listen to our suffering, but if psychotherapists do not practice the universal door, they will not succeed. Psychotherapists are human beings who are subject to suffering like the rest of us. They might have problems with their spouses, children, friends, and society. They also have internal formations. They may have a lot of suffering that cannot be communicated to even the most beloved person in their life. How can they sit there and listen to our suffering, and understand our suffering? Psychotherapists have to practice the universal door, the Fourth Precept -- deep listening and mindful speech.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh