Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the fourth language

My wife and I put in a beehive this spring.

It's not the first time I've kept bees; I did many years ago in Georgia, and my father has been a beekeeper for close to 20 years. Watching the bees, with their extraordinary-- yet (for man) immensely complex, largely inexplicable language-- reminds me of how very, very much communication in man depends solely on words. (To be sure, gestures and facial expressions are a vital component of our communication, but that is in the process of being completely overwhelmed by the amount of sheer verbiage spewed over the Internet and in print.)

Other Beings of the planet -- all over the animal and plant kingdom -- rely far more on chemical scents to exchange information with one another. Of course, we also do that, but we do it unconsciously. We are just as tied into the web of biological being as every other creature, yet exist in a state of denial that sets us apart.

Of course we are not about to get up in the morning and develop a language that we can use in our immediate surroundings that is different than that of words.

Or are we?

When the centers become more active -- when there is the participation of two or even three centers in an experience of life -- it immediately becomes clear that our routine verbal exchanges fall short of any ability to describe it. To be sure, there is a language of the emotions, and a language of the body, and each one of these minds takes in impressions that describes them quite accurately in its own language. But I don't speak that language, that is, this part that is writing does not speak that language.

If I pause for a moment as I write this, and attend to the sensation of my body, my breathing, or the vibration of the organism as it lives, I get a taste of an alternative mind, speaking in an alternative language. Now, I don't call it a language (paradoxically, using this language I am using) because I don't understand that it is a language. I am so accustomed to believing that language is only a capacity of the intellect, and only communicated through words, that I fail to see other languages. This despite the fact that one of the dictionary definitions of language is "any nonverbal method of expression or communication." (One would have to admit, if one were being objective, that by far the vast majority of the language on this planet is molecular--not based on sonic vibrations.)

So in fact, I am experiencing life -- it is being expressed and communicated -- through three different languages, the language of the mind and words, the language of emotions, and the language of the body and sensation. It is only when those three capacities blends together simultaneously that what one might call "the fourth language" emerges. Just as Mr. Gurdjieff developed what he called "the Fourth Way" in order to synthesize the three main branches of yoga into a single whole, the fourth language is the language of attention -- the language of the entire Being participating in an experience of life. And it is just that fourth language we must seek, if we wish to deepen our experience of our life.

Trapped in my associations as I am, I rarely have this experience. I talk about the possibility of the experience through associations. I formulate my exercises and approaches to the possibility through associations. I discuss what it might feel like or did (or doesn't) feel like -- again, through associations. The one thing that is certain is that is extremely rare for anyone to communicate in the fourth language, and that when it happens, it is an inner experience that does not submit itself to analysis.

I think it's quite difficult for any of us to even remotely conceive of how heavily we are dominated by association. To become free of this problem is a very big thing -- and it involves sacrificing, in the sense of giving up, much of what I assume and believe about what I am, how I am, and how I "ought" to be.

Our abstraction from the world of alternative languages, and our failure to take the impressions of them in properly may be, in large part, one of the chief reasons for the deterioration of man's psyche as recounted in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

It's quite interesting to me to observe this, because as I grow older, I have become more and more aware of the experience of emotion as a language and sensation as a language. In both cases, understanding that they are a language draws my attention to them and encourages me to listen to them more closely. They speak in more detail and more eloquently than I usually notice, because I am so hypnotized and distracted by words. They actually form much stronger connections with the environment than the intellect and the words can, but I am, in a word, asleep to that.

It's just this action of forming deeper, more molecular connections to the planet that interests me. And it is only with the fourth language, one more wholly formed from the participation of three centers, that this can take place.

As a parting note-- anyone who has questions of just how intimately connected we are to the world of chemical languages through other organisms might find this article about the link between bacterial infection and intelligence interesting.

May the living light of Christ discover us.

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