The Difficulty In Listening

Delshad Karanjia

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Nasruddin was at the teahouse one afternoon when Arif the hakim walked in.

“How are you, Mullah? I hope you and your family are well,” Arif asked politely.

“I’m fine, thanks, Arif, but I’m worried about my wife, who seems to have become very hard of hearing. Is there any cure for her problem?” asked Nasruddin.

“Well, some degree of age-related hearing loss is normal,” Arif said. “If you bring your wife to my dispensary, I can check her hearing and prescribe the necessary treatment. But before you do that, you can try this simple test. When you go home this evening, call out to your wife from the gate and see if she hears you. If not, then try speaking to her from the front door and keep reducing the distance until she responds. This way you will be able to gauge how serious her hearing deficiency is.”

Nasruddin thanked the doctor for the free medical advice and headed home. Calling out to Fatima from the gate in the front yard, Nasruddin said loudly: “I’m home, dear. What are we having for dinner?”

Getting no reply, Nasruddin opened the front door and yelled: “I’m home, dear. What are we having for dinner?”

Still getting no response, Nasruddin pushed open the kitchen door and repeated loudly: “What’s for dinner, dear?”

Fatima, who was stirring a large pot on the stove, turned to face her husband. “Are you deaf, Nasruddin?” she said angrily, wiping her hands on her apron. “For the third and last time I repeat: we are having fish stew and pilaf, followed by apricot halva for dessert.”

Excerpted from Teaching a Horse to Sing: Tales of Uncommon Sense from India and Elsewhere, by Delshad Karanjia.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to Nasruddin's misplaced inference? Can you share a personal story of a time you judged someone, only to discover the issue lay squarely at your end? What helps you catch your mistakes of inference?

Add Your Reflection:

11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 1, 2021 Usha wrote:
    Nasruddin couldn’t hear his wife’sresponsebut thought shewas deaf.
    Many times we land in the similar situation. The most common I catch myself is when I ask the other if they would like to eat or are hungry and most times it’s me who will want to eat.
    Bringing my awareness to the present brings me to catch myself if there is a judgement and alsoReflecting on my response do.

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    On Aug 29, 2021 Alberto wrote:
    How nice to read this. This shows who is deaf...

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    On Aug 26, 2021 Chaula Shah wrote:
    I have judged many people as judgemental . And after some silence and time..i realized who is judgemental ...wowww..it is me who is JUDGEMENTAL.

    1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
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    On Aug 24, 2021 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:
    Oh how I love Nasruddin stories! In today's deeply polarized political climate in the US we often experience "not hearing each other" and placing the not hearing on the other. I've found that compassion in seeking to understand the complexity of layers of influence on each one of us and our beliefs helps me to better hear what is said. ♡

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    On Aug 24, 2021 Nilesh wrote:
    "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down". In our beloved Mulla Nasruddin's case humor is the sugar that makes the medicine of wisdom and the lesson of humility go down better for all of us.

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    On Aug 24, 2021 Angelie wrote:
    Wer kennt nicht diesevorschnellennegativenSchlussfolgerungen ausVorurteil,Anmassung, unrichtigenGedanken, Unachtsamkeit ?
    Mit dem Verständnis sichdarinauchselbst zu spiegeln werde ich vorsichtig, achtsam und nachsichtig 🙏

    A very big Thank You from the bottom of my ❤️to both very wellrespected teacher Mr David Doane and Mr JagdishP Dave in all high-mindedresponses hereand Ialwaysfeel tremendous gifted on their comments and can t wait read all of them.
    Thanks again.

    1 reply: Jagdish | Post Your Reply
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    On Aug 21, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    What we see in the other is often more about us than about the other. Alcoholics Anonymous says, 'you spot it, you got it.' As someone said, there's something about that guy I can't stand in myself. We project ourselves onto others, especially our own negative traits. Maybe 25 years ago, I very much hurt a good friendship by my negative judgments and criticisms that had much more to do with me than my good friend, and I'm still sad about the hurt I caused to both of us. I see such happeningsas mistakes of judgment and projections, and I catch them best and before they are expressed outwardly by knowing it's valuable for me to examine what my judgment has to do with me, not with the other. It helps me to remember the times I expressed my negative judgments that caused me and the other hurt. It helps that I've learned that as I look at the other I see me, and to remind myself of that. It helps me to think before I speak.

    1 reply: A | Post Your Reply
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    On Aug 20, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    MullaNasruddin'sbehavior indicates that he had already assumed that his wife Fatima was hard of hearing. On this assumption, he keeps on asking the same question "What are we having for dinner?". The angry tone of his voice was escalating getting louder and louder. He had lost his patience, pushed the door and repeated loudly the same question though he was right there in front of her. He himself behaved as if he was deaf.His misplaced inference made him act foolishly. It was a counterproductive stance. Such a stance caused a lot of headaches and conflicts in close relationships. I have learned from my personal experiencesto listen to the other person without making inferences in advance about the other person. I have learned not to prejudge the other person's stance but to keep my mind open and receptive. This way I relate to the other person amicably and fruitfully. How do we relate to others who have different philosophies and ideologies without judging them is no... [View Full Comment] MullaNasruddin'sbehavior indicates that he had already assumed that his wife Fatima was hard of hearing. On this assumption, he keeps on asking the same question "What are we having for dinner?". The angry tone of his voice was escalating getting louder and louder. He had lost his patience, pushed the door and repeated loudly the same question though he was right there in front of her. He himself behaved as if he was deaf.His misplaced inference made him act foolishly. It was a counterproductive stance. Such a stance caused a lot of headaches and conflicts in close relationships.

    I have learned from my personal experiencesto listen to the other person without making inferences in advance about the other person. I have learned not to prejudge the other person's stance but to keep my mind open and receptive. This way I relate to the other person amicably and fruitfully. How do we relate to others who have different philosophies and ideologies without judging them is not always easy but it is worth trying and beneficial.

    We all make inferences about other persons in our life. The problem arises when we prejudge them with a closed mind. As we know inferences and prejudgments are born in our mind and we remain stuck with them if we do not examine them and change them for our good and good of others in our life. I usually ask four questions in communicatingwith the other person: What do I want to communicate? How do I communicate? When do I communicate? And where do I communicate? Such questions help me to be engaged with the other person constructively and creatively.
    May we cultivate the art of listening and responding to others in our life.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave

    [Hide Full Comment]

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