Here’s an unusual blog that I’m authoring, personally.
While I have a doctorate, I don’t claim to be brilliant. (Just ask people who know me!) So … I continue learning by regularly taking courses in areas of current interest that were not part of my career-focused undergraduate or graduate education. Last semester, I took a course in “Sacred Communication” out of the philosophy department at Christopher Newport University. For my term paper, I decided to focus on defining what communication is “sacred,” what is not, and … why that matters.
In my search for answers, I interviewed leaders in Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist congregations. I also found helpful printed data from a Unitarian and a Hindu source. And as my wife is clairaudient, I also interviewed “D,” the entity she channels. While these sources were bound to have different perspectives, I was curious to learn if some consistent theme might surface … as we are all part of one “humanity.”
Not only did a consistent theme surface, but it seems to have a direct bearing on our daily lives and on “sustainable living.” What follows is from the “conclusion” portion of my term paper. I think you’ll enjoy it.
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Sacred Communication & Sustainability
One way to begin drawing conclusions about “Sacred Communication” is to also define what is not sacred. Interview comments that jumped out are:
- The opposite of “sacred” is contempt.
- Anything I say that harms another is evil, and is therefore not “sacred communication.”
- Sacred communication must have understanding … arriving at a shared meaning and a mutual understanding. Today, people don’t engage in dialogue – especially by patiently listening – to arrive at a mutual understanding.
From this, we can conclude that one-way communication – newspapers, TV and radio (other than perhaps those with call-in formats) – don’t necessarily complete the communication cycle. We can also conclude that messages that are disrespectful, demeaning, or in any way harmful – such as many messages sent between political candidates – are not sacred.
In addition, primary news media need to get attention, in order to maintain their readership or viewership. To do this, they work to engage our fear response, which starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala, and activates whenever we see a human face with an emotion. This reaction is more pronounced with anger and fear.
A threat stimulus, such as the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved in preparation for motor functions involved in fight or flight. It also triggers release of stress hormones in the sympathetic nervous system.
The motto of major media, “If it bleeds it leads,” increases readership or viewership, but is in no way “Sacred Communication,” especially if one-way.
Next … Here’s a smattering of comments from these different sources that do try to define “Sacred Communication” …
- The key to “sacred” grows out of Buddha’s teaching of two principles:
- That we experience suffering; and
- That we need to solve suffering, to make it disappear, to develop our strength to have peace in our hearts and minds, and make life peaceful and happy.
Communication focused on those two principles is “sacred.”
- All humans are sacred, regardless of their beliefs or where the communication is happening. Therefore, all communication between two or more people, in which a message is sent and received – and in which understanding is gained – is sacred. Sacred communication must have understanding … arriving at a shared meaning and a mutual understanding.
- When I honor you and respect your dignity and work, then communication is in the name of God, therefore it is sacred.
- “Namaste” is a thank you to the world created and around us. The “divine in me honors the divine in you” references the spiritual transfer of the word. Honor the individual who is graced by your presence.
- In order to communicate in a sacred manner, which means to communicate in a way that recognizes the divine spark in others, you need to first be able to recognize that you yourself have that same divine spark, and therefore you need to communicate with yourself in a sacred manner as well.
- “Sacred” acknowledges that the source of all is God – something bigger than we are and therefore the source of what’s “holy.” In behavioral terms, that means taking care of our world and the living beings in it. It also includes creating a sense of community. So, “Sacred” means that treating others with respect, and as kin, is holy. “Sacred Communication” is the enterprise of conveying what we want others to know: Ultimately, we are all one human family.
All of the above excerpts do seem to carry a common theme, don’t they? To place a “cherry on the cake” of this exploration, here are some comments from “D,” who often provides us with beautiful perspectives and clarity.
D … How do you define “Sacred Communication”?
“Sacred communication happens when two groups, two people, come together, take the time to really understand each the other’s perspective, and are fundamentally changed at an essence level.
“We would say that the conversation would include love, respect, kindness, and generosity of spirit. The conversation must also include no judgment. You come into the conversation as an open slate, willing to be seen, to be open and vulnerable. And what makes it divine is when all parties are fundamentally shifted toward love and a greater good.”
D … How would I know if I’m shifted at an “essence level”?
“At an essence level means you pierced each other’s veil’s resistance. How to know when parties are fundamentally shifted? Hate and disagreement melt, and the willingness to move forward is enhanced.
“Sacred communication is best done in person, because there’s more information that one can receive. It can be done in writing as long as there’s a back and forth. But the medium must be a two-way tool. Longer is better, so long as there’s a back and forth. Texting is too brief. Also, there’s a greater chance for miscommunication when we put thoughts into writing, because of our own biases when we read. Certain words or phrases can trigger any pre-existing human reaction.
“When there is anger, hate, frustration, bitterness, or old issues that hang around and surface and resurface, then the communication is not sacred.
“If someone’s intent in communication is to change someone, then the communication is not sacred. To understand someone and find a new path forward is a sacred path.”
D … Why is Sacred Communication important?
“Sacred communication lifts burdens off of people, so it allows humans to be lighter emotionally.
“The other thing it does is allow people to feel connected. In your world there is chronic loneliness, chronic isolation, and chronic bitterness. And we would say that when there is a genuine sacred communication, it allows one to feel connected and part of something that’s bigger than oneself.
“Finally, ‘Sacred Communication’ creates beauty and depth at soul level.”
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In summary …
These explorations provide, in a variety of words and from a variety of sources, a reasonably clear sense of what “Sacred Communication” is all about.
Imagine a world in which we communicated with one another – at an individual and group level – with the principles described. Anger, hatred, and frustration would drastically diminish. That might also diminish acts of violence and, at an international level, war. It might shift our budgets and our pursuits away from military and towards education and pursuit of life goals.
It’s not a communication style to reserve for special religious rites, ceremonies or holidays. It’s a style – and an attitude – that needs to be in everyday use. And I do see this as a desirable quality in “Sustainable Living.”