By Moshe Ross — All these principles of action, wherever they start from, are like potatoes floating in the rich burgundy stew of compassion.

The past few weeks, I've been learning to listen better. This practice has resonated for me over decades, yet can be endlessly refined, like a light wine without traces of bitterness. Listening is based on not judging, on not trying to fix problems and, of course, on simply listening.

Here's the subtlety: Say our friend feels guilty and blameworthy. In this entire world there is no blame. Yet we don't blurt out, "You don't have to feel guilty!" They do have to feel guilty just now. We approve, and honor their struggle. So our response may be to ask more about it. As they describe their feelings to us, they learn more about the unique process they are going through, and this helps them work on it.

Why don't we try to fix things? If we're not judging people's feelings, then we can see that they don't need a tune-up from us. If we start presenting solutions ("Hey, cheer up!" or "Why don't you take a walk in Lithia Park?") then we're showing that we don't want to listen to them anymore. Unless we're specifically asked for ideas, our friend has already been precisely considering all the various options that occur to us. Lastly, outcomes wend their way by unanticipated avenues. (And there will always surely be outcomes.)

As we listen better and better, we start sucking communications out of the air, for people have antennae that sense we're present for them. One minute someone will be pulling their hair out, while the next minute someone will be proffering us the keys to the kingdom. And in hearing without struggle we've become more lithe and flexible, so we can catch these keys as they arc by.

Listening, helping or acting ethically, or else thrilling to beauty, falling in love or mindfully tasting how delicious our lunch is, are all modes of building from the ground up. While they may never enter the heavens of spiritual awareness, they each are climbing the mountain from a certain angle and each adventure is doing its part. It doesn't matter if a life seems to fail or fall short; each is equally a thread in the universal tapestry.

We can turn this around and view it from an aerial perspective. When we enter the most sacred place that we are readied for, we experience that each and everybody is the holy One, who is manifesting as this world. Then, with our friends and neighbors, political parties or foreign nations — wherever the temptation is most enticing — how can we judge, criticize or condemn?

We know why everyone has a mission to be honored. We offer the cup of cold water (or like our friend, the cup of hot coffee), yet we don't repair what was broken by human hands alone, for the Other harbors within the limitless resources to effect healing, we step back to let it outflow. We listen for these realities. So we can see that reaching up from the ground and reaching down from the summit are two sides of one coin, are two hands that grip each other.

All these principles of action, wherever they start from, are like potatoes floating in the rich burgundy stew of compassion. Compassion comes from the Latin, "bearing together." With a seeing heart, we meet the Other with compassion, the receiver helps the giver. When we first attempted to discover skillful means, it was because we were feeling human empathy.

We can only give what we've already found. When we are communing with the divinity of our greater Self, when this is our focus and our motivation, then we are giving. We give Love from the godhead, not from our ego, and people can feel this authenticity. We receive invisible love, and then we effortlessly, unobtrusively and miraculously give and receive love in all our relations, and a concordant spiral opens up, going from glory to glory.

Peace, love and joy.

Moshe Ross (488-2571) lives and teaches in Ashland. His book, "Really Being With You," is available at Bloomsbury Books. E-mail your 650-word inner peace article to Sally McKirgan at innerpeace@q.com.