Compassionate, Spiritual, and Creative Listening in Teaching and Learning

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 112, Number 11, (2010), p. 4-5.

Purpose of Study

The article explores compassionate listening as a creative spiritual activity. Such listening recognizes the suffering of others in ways that open up possibilities for healing and transformative communication. It is particularly important for a caring profession like teaching and critical for good teaching and learning relationships.

Research Design
Relying on philosophical reflection, this article mixes some of the basic ideas of Eastern thought revolving around the image of the Bodhisattvas as they who constantly ameliorate suffering. The article concentrates on the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds.


The article concludes that we can only relieve suffering if we attend carefully to the needs, desires, interests, and purposes of others and respond in terms of their best possibility in the situation. Such self-eclipsing allows caregivers to avoid the horrors of conditional love.

Such listening lies beyond theory and ideology in the immediate, directly involving sympathetic response, but not pity. It is not the kind of sympathy that assumes that the pain in others has the same characteristics or source as our own.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2010