The Listener: Sound, Vibration, Nonduality & Consciousness

schumann resonance

In the language of modern spirituality we hear a lot about the witness or the observer as a perspective through which to disentanglement from mind and feeling in allow experiences of pure consciousness or awareness. In this, the focus tends to be on the visual capacity of mind: the “seeing” of waking consciousness.

Yet there is a whole dimension waiting for discovery, and its ways cannot be left blocked. This is the dimension of the listener, of awareness of vibration, of attunement and of harmony.

We all know the expression “seeing is believing”; rarely do we hear someone say “I heard it and so I believe it.” A reason for the visual-centric focus is that the seeing faculty is more closely connected with conscious control. We can cover our eyes, but we will hear the truth anyway.

We can move to a soundproof room, but the silence of our own minds cannot be guaranteed. Even in the pure, vulnerable allowance of silence, there a multitude of life and vibration. Silence is not static or stable. It has atmospheres.

Consider, for example, the difference between a loving silence and an angry silence, or the silence inside yourself and the silence in the environment. Silence is not an end-point but the starting point of a journey of coming to life.

The realm of listening, hearing or vibration reaches beneath the alluring surface of conscious seeing and deep into the unconscious. In the language of I AM HERE, it shifts us from the dimension of consciousness, or spirit/mind, to the dimension of awareness, or soul/sentience/heart. It moves us involuntarily out of the realm of the “I” the volatile dimension of consciousness, individuality and identification, and into the “AM”, the dimension of sentience, vibration and Being.

This dimension is all about allowance, and as such it is not surprising that the fear of surrender could lead to a modern focus on visual perception (even in a spiritual context). Yet this shift into the causal layer of vibration is the exact deepening needed to allow peace of mind; freedom from entangled beliefs and thought systems; and liberation from restricting, illusory patterns of identification.

We have these amazing appendages called ears positioned on the side of our heads, perfectly placed to equalize left brain – right brain input. These delicate organs translating vibration to the brain give us the perception of sound, or hearing, from which we extract subjective meaning. A good part of our listening is selective, with the brain choosing to attend to a certain voice and to cut out distant sounds, background noises, or even the subtle texture of the sound that is choicelessly invading the brain. The search for meaning clouds the perception already in the attunement, through conscious attempts to differentiate and negotiate meaning that in a way sit on top of the actual resonance of the sound.

Imagine someone is telling you a story. In no time, you are selecting, choosing what to identify with, planning what to say next, reconstructing meaning, or trying to understand the language. How would it be if you just relaxed into the listening to the space between the words, or the silence beneath, surrendering to the whole intonation? How much more would be heard? How much deeper would be the meaning and insight that emerges?

The Listening

Vibration moves beyond conscious control, meaning that the reflexive movement to choose or select the contents of perception is undermined. Through allowing the vibrations which are around and through us anyway, we surrender into the and-and-and dimension, releasing the binary mind of “either-or”.

Whether or not we choose for it, our bodies reverberate as one with to  sounds and vibrations – perceivable and imperceivable – in our environment. We don’t get to be separate. Rejection is pure illusion.

With seeing, when we face another person. We see them and they see us. There is already a direct polarization between subject and object. Only if there is the mutual courage to relax into the one that sees from beyond sets of eyes, can a shared consciousness be celebrated.

Yet when we are together, we all hear sounds simultaneously and in synchroncity, whether we want to or not. If a piece of music is playing, we all share the listening, without any subject-object split. Even if we block our ears, the very cells of our bodies are resonating with the vibrations of the melody. We don’t have to all individually like it, but we share the vibrations in the moment of their happening.

In the dimension of vibration, there is no split between subject and object, except the one created as an after effect of the mind. Even if one person speaks, their voice is heard by them, together with a whole audience. They are not only the speaker, they are also simultaneously one with the listeners. Already with the very utterance, the sound is released and can be heard (also by them) as a neutral vibration. It moves through them, it is not “theirs” no matter how they might try to possess the story as formed by their own language/thoughts.

In its purity, the sound is an occurrence, heard by them, just as every sound is heard by…. who or what?

And here, the inquiry becomes still more interesting. Who is the listener? Is their any space in the universe where this listener is not?

Who is the listener?

When we have the courage to surrender to the listening, we can begin to inquire where this sound is reverberating within us. If we let the filters of our minds and thoughts stand back, who is hearing? Who hears the sounds in the far distance, the sound in the room we can see, and the sounds of our own inner voice with equanimity? Where is the one that hears, independently of the physical ears?

Allowing the listener can lead to universal spaces of freedom. Everything can be heard. Colors can be heard. Pain, grief, guilt can be heard in its strange song. Smells can be melodious. Love itself can have a rhythm and unlimited intonations. Peace too. All of this vibrational, atmospheric weather is moving through this one, the inner infinity of the listener, in the infinite space of subtle, sentient pure awareness.

Can you listen to yourself listening? Can you actively choose to listen to the silence, and to listen for a space within the silence which is even more empty than silence itself? Can you be that one, in which all vibration occurs?

First published on

The article also included this addendum:
Resonance and the tendency towards harmony displayed by the synchronization of a whole load of metronomes. How do our minds interfere with our own physiological natural tendency towards harmony with the natural environment?


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