Being and Listening: Counselling, Psychoanalysis and the Ontology of Listening by Peter Wilberg

This book, the oldest and first of several publications by Peter Wilberg on the ontological dimension of listening in both psychotherapy and somatic medicine, is dedicated to the fulfilment of Martin Heidegger’s hope that his thinking would “…escape the confines of the philosopher’s study and become of benefit to wider circles, in particular to a large number of suffering human beings.”

The German word for listening (zuhören) belongs to a family of words including ‘to hear’ (hören), to belong (gehören) and ‘belonging together’ (Zugehörigkeit). The essential unity or ‘belonging together’ of ‘Being and Listening’ was nowhere more strikingly affirmed than in a saying of the German thinker Martin Heidegger: “We hear, not the ear.” This saying indicates that it is not bodies or ears but beings that hear. It also hints at a dimension of ‘belonging together’ or ‘we-ness’ in the activity of hearing and of listening.

For how a human being addresses us, what they say to us – and the manner in which they say it – is itself and already a response to the way in which we are or are not listening to and ‘hearing’ them – the wavelength of our listening attunement to them. Conversely, as Heidegger goes on to say: “…if we hear, something is not merely added to what the ear picks up; rather, what the ear perceives and how it perceives will already be attuned (gestimmt) and determined (bestimmt) by what we hear…” Such a Heideggerian ‘language of listening’, which speaks in a German vocabulary, may be unfamiliar to those whose approach to counselling is shaped by terminologies derived from Freud, Rogers or new ‘cognitive’ therapies.

Yet it has a power to radically deepen our experience of what we call ‘listening’; allowing us to understand it merely as a prelude to some form of therapeutic response – nor as a one among other counselling ‘skills’ or ‘techniques’ – but rather as our most primordial way of ‘being with’ and ‘bearing with’ another human being in pregnant silence. It through this capacity to patiently ‘be’ and ‘bear with’ another person’s suffering that they in turn can come to be with and ‘bear’ it in a more patient way – thus granting it time to bear forth or give birth, not just to newly felt questions and insights, but to a whole ‘inner bearing’ towards their life world and relationships, i.e. to a new way of being – one itself rooted in a new way of listening.

Peter Wilberg (born in London in 1952) is an independent thinker and author of ethnic German and Jewish-German background.

Though he holds an MA in Philosophy and Politics (Oxon, 1994) and in Humanistic Psychology (Antioch, 1980) he has since pursued his lifelong research, work and writing outside the framework of academia and without any form of institutional support or funding.

As well as writing, Peter Wilberg gives individualised philosophical and experiential counselling, mentoring, supervision, teaching, therapy, meditational training and ‘life doctoring’ at his U.K. home in Whitstable, Kent.

His work has given rise to a wide range of both original philosophical insights and pioneering practices in the areas of phenomenological science and research, therapeutic listening, existential and phenomenological medicine, consciousness studies, the nature of music and tonal awareness, semiotics, non-dual and focusing-oriented therapy, awareness-based ‘cognitive therapy’, aware and embodied relating, gnosticism, yoga and tantra – leading to both individual and shared, bi-personal meditation and metaphysical experiencing.

The philosophical foundation of Peter Wilberg’s work is a new ‘field-phenomenology’ that he calls ‘The Awareness Principle’. This is the recognition that awareness or ‘subjectivity’ has an essentially universal and field character. As such, it is neither the product of any thing or body nor the private property of any individual ‘subject’, ‘ego’ or ‘being’. Awareness, in other words, is nothing that is ‘yours’ or ‘mine’. Instead all bodies and all beings are individualized portions and expressions of potentialities latent in a universal awareness field – one that is the very essence of ‘the divine’. Every ‘being’ or ‘body’, ‘thing’ or ‘phenomenon’ therefore, is not just something we are or can be aware of. It also is an awareness or ‘consciousness’ in its own right -manifesting unique field-patterns and qualities of awareness latent in the universal awareness field that is its source. What is called ‘God’ then, is neither a being nor Being, but Awareness as such, all-ecompassing and all-pervading.

“The Being of all things that are recognised in Awareness in turn depends on Awareness.” ~ Sri Abhinavagupta

CLICK HERE to browse inside.

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