Make your will one! Don’t listen with your ears, listen with your mind. No, don’t listen with your mind, but listen with your spirit. Listening stops with the ears, the mind stops with recognition, but spirit is empty and waits on all things. The Way gathers in emptiness alone. Emptiness is the fasting of the mind. Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) trans. Burton Watson
Ting jin is “listening energy”–sensing the insubstantial as well as the substantial. Knowing that is not entirely depending on the outward appearance of things. It’s the sixth sense that tells you Little Jimmy had a bad day at school, or that the salesman is not telling you something important about that used car.
It tells the martial artist that a punch is about to thrown or an energy healer what points to hold and how long. It tells Yoda that there is a “disturbance in the Force.” Highly developed ting jin gives you a preternatural ability to read what is going on.
Ting jin arises from meeting another with your whole being, not with a divided mind. In our normal consciousness (Eye of Mind), the mind recognizes only that which can be abstracted and identified (“the mind stops with recognition”). Once it names the object attention is turned to other things. All other information is filtered out or further abstracted. “Listening stops with the ears”: the vibrations that constitute sound are received by the ears (Eye of Flesh) and translated by the mind into an identifiable object. From that we weave our narrative.
“The Way gathers in emptiness alone.” Transrational consciousness. (Eye of Contemplation.) “Emptiness is the fasting of the mind.” The mind clears. We disengage from our ongoing narrative and move into a state of Wholeness (energetic coherence). “Make your will one!” “Listen with your spirit.”
But mindfulness is not enough. Presence is not enough. Wholeness is a good start. But even that is not enough. We can be ‘present’ and ‘mindful’ in our own little bubble with our attention directed inward and not be able to “listen.” Ting jin requires that we meet (engage) another reciprocally, with our whole being. I-You.
To “hear” what is going on we must encounter with an open heart, transcending the limitations of fear-based consciousness. Coherence helps. A coherent structure is integrated, powerful. Fear does not exist in energetic coherence. It is easier to open energetically when you feel safe. (“The Edge” exercise is specifically designed to train the ability to respond with love rather than fear, even in stressful circumstances.)