Difference between 'hear', 'listen' and 'receive'

Difference between 'hear', 'listen' and 'receive'

In Tomorrow's GodTomorrow's God by NDW, there was a line – right at the beginning that piqued my interest. He wrote that the book invites us to not merely 'hear' the wisdom again, but to 'receive' it (x).

It got me thinking about the difference between 'hearing' something and 'receiving' it. And whether either of those words has much, if anything, to do with 'listening'. So I thought I'd do a little research. Here's what I found.

'Hearing' something is a physiological function of a soundwave reaching our ear and then being transmitted through the inner ear and auditory nerve to our brain where it is processed at a subconscious level. Whether it actually reaches our conscious awareness is a completely different story. It is a chance occurrence. Our brains receive 320 billion bits of information every second – what we actually are aware of us must, by necessity be far less. So it is quite possible to 'hear' something but never become aware of it. If your focus is elsewhere, your brain will omit the data before it becomes conscious.

'Listening' is an intentional act – it occurs when you bring your focus to what you are hearing. This is much more likely to result in comprehension of the sound and a conscious thought process.

And 'to receive' a sound is a completely different thing! It implies that we are on the receiving end of an act of generosity. Someone is giving us the gift of sound and we are opening ourselves to it. Even better, according to Merriam-Webster, when we act as a vessel we are able to receive into ourselves and to assimilate what we have been given. As NDW puts it, we can "absorb it at the deepest level of our being, until it becomes the essence of who [we] are at the cellular level" (x).

Now I will approach the ideas of this book with the image of being a receptacle firmly in my mind. What a different space that creates.

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