Interview with Mark Nepo by Leslie Green

Written by on December 20, 2012 in Interviews
Photo of Mark Nepo

photo by Brian Bankston

The New York Times #1 bestselling author of The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo, has written another phenomenal book!  His new book is called Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred, and we are so excited that the Holistic Networker had the good fortune to score an interview!

Mark Nepo is a poet, philosopher, and author, having published thirteen books.  After The Book of Awakening landed on Oprah’s list of “Ultimate Favorite Things 2010,” Nepo was officially on the map and in the living rooms of people all around the world.  (I keep my copy beside my favorite reading chair.)  It only takes a few pages before he’s in your heart.  That’s the type of writer Mark Nepo is.

What to Expect

If you’re familiar with The Book of Awakening, you know its format: 365 essays, one for each day of the year, coupled with meditations and reflections to go along with each essay.  In case you are wondering if his new book follows the same format, I’ll share with you upfront, NO, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, does not offer 7,000 different ways to listen.  In fact, it’s written as a chapter book, on the premise that there are 7,000 living languages, therefore there must be at least an equal number of ways to listen.

Similar to The Book of Awakening, Nepo offers unique and thoughtful meditations throughout Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, while also including journal questions and what he calls ‘Table Questions‘ — intriguing questions to be discussed over dinner or coffee with loved ones.

In preparation to interview Mr. Nepo, I was eager to get my hands on the book.  Talented as he is, my first thought was, how does one write an entire book, a 258 page book, on listening?  It wasn’t until I dove in that I began to see themes emerging.  Peppered throughout the book are the themes of Oneness, peace, being open to life, seeing What Is, wakefulness, celebrating our similarities, and focusing on what matters.  And as each of these topics would surface, he shared how listening relates.

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen is divided into three sections, or three friendships, that serve as a framework for the journey of this book.

The Three Friendships

Nepo describes the friendships in the following way:

The Work of Being – our friendship with everything larger than us, which opens us to the wisdom of Source

The Work of Being Human – our friendship with experience, which opens us to the wisdom of life on Earth

The Work of Love – our friendship with each other, which opens us to the wisdom of care

Within each of the friendships, or sections, he seamlessly ties in listening.  When I asked him to tell me more about listening and how it relates to the friendships that outline the book, he had this to say:

“Listening is the first step toward friendship and I believe, the first step toward peace.  Because by listening, we start to discover where we’re connected even though we think we’re strangers.”

He continued, “As Longfellow said, ‘If I truly listened to my enemy’s suffering, we would no longer be enemies.’”

Nepo’s Flavor on Listening

Other beautiful quotes that will give you a very nice flavor of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen are these:

“When we listen with our mind, we understand more of life.  When we listen with our heart, we feel more of life.  When we listen with our entire being and spirit, we are transformed and joined with life itself.”

“Time has made me accept that I can’t possibly know or absorb the Oneness of things all by myself.  In this way, listening becomes a partnership by which we listen and converse with everything.”

“I find that deep listening is such a relaxation by which I enter silence until what I hear enters me.”

What Nepo Wants For You

When asked what his desire for his readers is while reading Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Nepo says, “…to move closer to their life, and to life itself.”

I feel I have done this through the reading of this beautiful piece of art.  During this holiday season, treat yourself, treat someone you love, share the gift that opens the door to moving closer to life itself.

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred is now available at retail bookstores all across America.

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