WHEN you take a walk or go for a morning jog, do you wear headphones? A New Earth author Eckhart Tolle says you may be missing out on an important spiritual moment.
Every day, Tolle says he takes a walk through the forest near his home. Most of the people he encounters on his path are either wearing headphones or chatting with a friend. “And very few people are actually truly present there as they walk through this beautiful forest,” Tolle says . “And this is a spiritual practice. And I recommend that people — whenever they go out into nature, especially — practice being very alert so that they can perceive the trees, the flowers, the plans, the sky, without too much mental interference.”
Tolle has a good point. For those of us who liked getting on a bus or a train and overhearing, or even taking part in, conversations, there is something a bit bleak about the dozens of private solitudes which nowadays clamber aboard.
It is three decades or so since the Walkman. Three decades since we first got on a bus or a train and heard that infuriating tsst, tsst, tsst, tsst noise emanating from a wired-up earhole just behind us, 30-plus years since one section of the population became literally deaf to the existence of the other half.
With one of these infernal electronic things plugged in to your head you are literally deaf to the needs of others, and have no idea quite what a nuisance you are being.
We need to learn the language of silence.