Awake in the World

It’s not often that we think of listening. But Mark Nepo makes an art of it. In his new book, “Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred” Nepo, the New York Times #1 bestselling author and Ophrah pick, explores how this gentle act of kindness moves us closer. “When we dare to quiet our minds and all the thoughts we inherit, the differences between us move back and the things we have in common move forward,” Nepo writes. The idea of writing about the essential act of listening came to him while speaking with a Nigerian linguist who revealed that 7,000 languages exist in the world. Nepo decided if there are at least 7,000 ways to speak then there must the 7,000 ways to listen. This masterpiece on listening comes at a vital time when divisions in American run rampant around politics, race, and religion.


In his chapter, “How Do We Listen to All That Is Not Said,” Nepo describes a question from a medical student about how to communicate with a patient who does not want to listen. In response he tells a story of a well-dressed man who steps over a homeless man on the street to peer more closely at a sweater in a department store window. Observing this scene and how both the homeless man who didn’t flinch and the well-dressed man who stepped over him struck Nepo. “I stayed there quite awhile, not sure what to do or where to go,” he writes. Then his eyes met those of a man in a wheelchair. He describes how their eyes met and connected for ten to fifteen seconds. “”Neither of us looked away. I heard all he did not say,” he writes. “It pierced my heart.”

Nepo teaches us to listen with the heart. His words paint pictures and evoke deeply spiritual scenes and experiences that invite transcendence. At the end of chapters he offers “A Reflective Pause,” to encourage going deeper. In a meditation he invites us to look at our hands and think of all the things they have touched and then emanate what these hands carry. Through his offerings we begin to realize as Ramana Maharshi said, “There are no others.”

Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, February 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at and on Facebook at:

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus