Do You Hear What I Hear?

Dr. Charles Tart


Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 5, Part 9 of 18 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

CTT: How are people doing in your attempts to practice self-remembering when you’re out in the world? And we’ll allow the world to include ITP outside this particular classroom at this moment too, even though some would question that. 😉

Student: I’ve been hearing that bell. I’m always a little nervous because I thought that maybe it was hearing loss. Just now, when you rang the bell, I thought oh – that’s the same. That’s what I’m hearing.

CTT: Through the walls, you mean. [CTT has used unexpected bell sounds to remind students to self-remember.]

Student: When I’m at home. When I’m nowhere near the bell.

CTT: Uh huh. Ah. Well, I hope it brings you happiness.

Now there is a medical condition called tinnitus, or maybe tinnitus – I’ve never been sure of the proper pronunciation – where you start to hear sounds.

Student: Right.

CTT: And –


Student: Or you’re just crazy.


CTT: For a lot of people, I think it’s another excellent example of Shinzen Young’s equation, that suffering equals pain multiplied by resistance, because for a lot of people, tinnitus is a small amount of funny little noises that happen once in a while, but they worry themselves sick about it. And so make what is really a very minor annoyance into an enormous amount of suffering. There can be very serious levels where it actually interferes with hearing, but I don’t know how widespread that is.

Student: It’s pretty pleasant (unpleasant?).

CTT: If you can hear it once in a while, take it as a reminder. There is a whole esoteric branch of yoga devoted to hearing the “astral sounds.” It might mean that there was a bunch of old yogis who all had tinnitus back in ancient India, but they took a positive slant on it, as though they were starting to hear the secret sounds of the cosmos, and let it spur them in their practice. Why not? What the hell?


Student: And it only happened after they achieved great wisdom because it took so many years.

CTT: There you go. There you go. False correlation.

However, if it ever gets so bad you have trouble hearing ordinary sounds, see your doctor.

Student: Okay.

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