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Nilas Goke on Listening

Niklas Goke, wrote in his article about being smarter about one of his favorite Zen stories, The four monks.


"Four monks decided to meditate silently for two weeks. They lit a candle and began. By nightfall on the first day, the candle went out.

The first monk said: “Oh, no! The candle is out.”

The second monk said: “We’re not supposed to talk!”

The third monk said: “Why must you two break the silence?”

The fourth monk laughed and said: “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”

They all did so for different reasons — distraction, condescendence, anger, ego — but each of the four monks shared his thoughts without filtering them, and not a single one improved the situation.

Had there been a fifth, wiser monk, he would’ve remained silent and kept meditating. In doing so, he would have pointed each of the other monks at their own mistake — without saying a single word."

Goke continued, "The less you talk, the more you can listen. Listening always leads to learning. Listen as much as you can.

Everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t. The more you talk, the more likely you are to miss it. Listening to them until you find it is a virtue.

Listening is free. Listening is kind. Listening gives you time to observe, to reflect, to hold off on judgments until you can form a better, more granular picture. Wisdom is formed in silence. Silence is your friend. Use silence.

The less you speak, the smarter you’ll get. And, maybe not quite coincidentally, the smarter you get, the less you’ll speak."


I have listened to people that enriched my life so many times I can't count.


Never miss an opportunity to hear the thoughts of others. All conversations are ribbons of connectivity.



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