With What We Do Not Listen
First of all, “the nature of hearing” is not in or with the physical ears. This nature of hearing is fundamentally the sea-like consciousness that stores all karmic interactions. It is the single entity with six functions, of which include the seeing of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, and the knowing of the mind. I am now referring to accessing the nature of hearing with the ears, which is to listen.
Secondly, the nature of hearing is not in or with the ear consciousness. The nature of hearing hears sounds and silence clearly, with not the slightest confusion it does not discriminate. Similar to the nature of seeing, it is like a mirror free from judgment or any inkling of a discursive thought. It is equivalent to space, constant and pervasive. Stream of consciousness restricts our inherent nature to one tiny space as each thought comes and goes momentarily, which is neither pervasive nor constant. This is the type of consciousness that conditions sound. To follow it without being aware indicates that you are still under the shadow of phenomena, discriminating based on conditions and surrounding objects[. . . .] In the kind of listening you are aiming for, not a thought comes into being and yet the Dharma Realm is perfectly illumined. It is the ground of still extinction for personal and collective enlightenment, the proper place for practice.
If these insights do not become clear to us immediately through the Sūtra text, we can experience it and get to know it by practicing meditation (quietly). Try to get up and meditate at dawn, when the air is fresh and clear. At the start of the day when everything is just beginning to stir, without letting one thought come into being, you will notice this hearing nature. This hearing nature is vast, encompassing, lucid, unobstructed by mountains or walls, and unclouded by obscurities or darkness. Tapping the nature of hearing, you will hear all sounds, be they loud or soft, near or far.
You will not miss even a breeze wafting through trees or footsteps that make stairs creak. If a giant bell were tolled several miles east of you, it would be absolutely clear to you. Similarly, were a drum ensemble sounded several miles west of you, the drumming would be crystal clear to you. From cries in a valley south of you to laughter on the streets north of you, from sounds of carriage wheels to horse hooves, all these would be apparent in the face of perfect hearing the way reflections appear on a spotless mirror.[i]