By Claire Blatchford
"Inner hearing” has always been crucial in my life— particularly as I’m deaf and can’t always manage by way of a hearing aid (used for over 50 years, and now, more recently, a cochlear implant.) When I share this conviction people often ask, “Can one hear and converse with spiritual beings in the same way one hears and converses with people?" My response is “Yes!” But I think it’s important to realize conversing with spiritual or subtle beings, as with human beings, occurs in many ways and on many levels, not just in words as we know them. Inner hearing— or “inner knowing” which may be the better term—differs, in my own experiences from “outer hearing”, hearing things in the physical world, in two ways.
First, what I hear within is not specifically and only about hearing non-physical beings. I might, for example, hear suddenly and unexpectedly into the thoughts, concerns or joys of someone I’m close to who is far away and has not made an attempt to contact me by phone or email. This could also be called intuitive hearing and leads directly to my second point: inner hearing engages me in a deeper and more comprehensive way than ordinary physical hearing.
When I hear the world by way of physical hearing, with the aid of my implant, it’s usually in a cause and effect way. Our dog barks and I deduce from his bark someone is at the back door. When I hear inwardly, the physical and emotional feelings that accompany this form of hearing are as much the message as the thought that’s being expressed. Also, when I hear within I may, at the same time, be hearing the outer world by way of the cochlear implant. It’s not as though I only hear one way or the other. I’m sure this happens to people with normal hearing all the time: like when the phone rings and even before you’ve picked it up you intuitively know who is calling.
What I have to share about my discovery of inner hearing as a child may help to illustrate these two points.
I first heard inwardly when I was six (shortly after becoming profoundly deaf in both ears overnight from the mumps). I didn’t get my first hearing aid until I was twelve, as there weren’t any aids at that time powerful enough for my use. So I was cut off during those years from the usual things children hear with their ears. I’m certain I became aware of inner hearing because I was removed from the clamor of every day noises.
At the same time I never thought of myself as living in a silent world because I’d known what hearing was and because what I “heard” through my eyes --people talking and showing facially how they felt, cars driving by, dogs barking, waves breaking on the beach—translated into inner sounds. Yet I obviously couldn’t hear and talk in the usual ways. Ordinary communication—hearing, understanding what I heard, and speaking—was extremely difficult. When you can’t hear, you can’t moderate your own voice and your speech can get sloppy pretty quickly. So it was marvelous indeed when, without any, “WHAT did you say?” or “For Pete’s sakes repeat that!” I heard an inner voice without stress or struggle.
Whose was the voice I was hearing? I never thought to ask. It knew me and I knew it: that was enough. Julia Spangler expressed her response to her inner voice beautifully in her recent posting:
"What is important to me is that I knew without a doubt that the voice was real. I felt like it knew something I didn’t and it was right. I didn’t need to ask if it was real. I knew it was for me, and I knew I could trust it. How did I know? I suppose in the same way I know when I can trust a person. There is a comfort and feeling of rightness to the relationship. And then, experience through my life teaches me if it is right."
Connecting with this inner voice at six brought me to the conviction I live with now 66 years later: inner beings are eagerly waiting for us to hear them and to acknowledge their presence. Their hope is that we might together find our way into a new understanding of the interconnectedness of the seen and unseen, the human and the earthly, the physical and the subtle, aspects of all life. In fact, I believe All Life depends on our connecting in this way. This, from my perspective, is what Incarnational Spirituality is all about.
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