How Do We Speak from Wholeness?

In The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot quotes Bernie Siegel who said that “people are addicted to their beliefs. When you try to change someone’s belief they will act like an addict” (p. 6).  If we are addicted to our beliefs, we won’t give them up until we see how they are wrecking our lives. Did we choose to believe that we’re all separate beings from everybody and everything else? No, that was so firmly established both by our experience of ourselves as young children and by how others treated us, then reinforced by language that separates I from You, that we just take it for granted that we’re all separate.

Well, what if we’re not?

Language served (and continues to serve) as an external technology for bridging that perceived gap between individuated consciousnesses. Perhaps it even allowed our process of individuation to flourish by paradoxically embodying the assumption of separateness that characterizes the process of individuation (even though in-divid-uation itself implies not-divided-ness). (I love the irony!) How does language embody the assumption of separateness?  [Caveat: not all languages do, so please forgive my generalization if you speak a language that does not assume separateness. And please step up to show the rest of us how to toss aside our crutches.]

The languages that do assume separateness generally have a structure that both separates the subject from him/her self as the agent of action—which takes the form of subject-verb—and which separates the subject from what are called objects—which is practically everything that isn’t the subject. (Except for naming, even when we refer to other people, other presumed subjectivities, they get treated linguistically as objects. For example, “I gave the book to him” treats book and him similarly. Compare “I gave water to the plant.”)

The subject is further assumed to be a point of consciousness (located generally in the head, around the pineal gland) inside a bag of skin. Hence, the subject even separates itself from the different aspects of the bag of skin in which it locates itself. Hence, as a language-using subject, when I say “my toe itches” there is a sense that the subjective part that is experiencing the itch is separate from and located somewhere other than the toe!  How weird is that?  (If you’ve ever tried to “move” the consciousness of the itching from the head area into the area that itches, it’s amazing to experience the itch go away.)

In his blog #11, Languages, David Spangler describes this same idea with the following example and explanation:

Many years ago I heard a lecturer say that the relationship of the soul to the personality and body was like that of a driver to a car. This is certainly a compelling image and a common one. It draws its power from its simplicity; it is metaphorically appealing. On the other hand, it also has the effect of dividing us into at least two parts, soul and personality or spirit and body and making one subordinate to the other. After all, a car is an unthinking thing that we use, not a partner or part of our wholeness. If this is the basis of our thinking about ourselves, then it creates a foundation for the kind of inner conflict I mentioned above.

Let’s call this the language of separation. It’s pervasive throughout human culture. It is the language of “us” vs. “them,” at the root of so much violence and suffering in our world today, and not just between people. It colors much of our thinking about our relationship to the environment was well. Not that all separative language and thinking is bad. There are times when the ability to draw clear distinctions and boundaries is important. To say that all separative thinking is wrong is itself an example of separative thinking. But there is no doubt that when such language and thinking are carried to an extreme and are not balanced by equally compelling images of our unity and connectedness, we end up with horrors like the Holocaust.

In a sense, language has served as a crutch, to help us get through the process of individuation. However, we have been living with the language crutch for so long that we consider it the defining characteristic that makes us human, the capability we have that the “other” animals do not have. How difficult will it be to relinquish this crutch with which we have so strongly identified as we step into the next phase of development—reintegration to a new level of wholeness without losing the perspective and uniqueness of individuated identity?

When I sat down to write this, I had no idea it would end up here. Now I look at the job ahead and cringe, knowing the resistance we humans have to de-identifying with that which we have identified.  Who among us is ready to say, “I’m willing to let go of those beliefs that seemingly keep me separate. I’m willing to see how language has served to separate me and now do something about it to reintegrate myself with Self”? (Of course, I’m aware of the irony of using language to say it’s time to wake up from our use of language.)

Individually and collectively we have to find, return to, and be that whole being that We are, in addition to the separate being that we think we are. (After all, we are One that is Both.) Then, how do we speak from that wholeness–the wholeness that each of us is as an individual and the wholeness of the All?

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3 Responses to How Do We Speak from Wholeness?


  1. I as a Point of View in Consciousness

    On your home page, in bold text you say, “How can we formulate answers to questions about our assumptions if we use the same assumptions to ask the questions?”

    I challenge your assumption that wholeness or separation is expressed and created in speaking and suggest that the idea of wholeness or separation is in the context of listening.

    For example, what if the inquiry focused on our “listening” for the experience of whole rather than our “speaking an experience of wholeness” into a world out there? And what if we listened from being whole rather than from an individuate sum of parts separated from other and from the whole? It could just be that our “listening for” or sensation of experience in wholeness is that of a “single point of view within the field of the whole of consciousness.

    Just as one finger of a hand may experience its own experience not generally shared by it’s neighbor fingers or other body features, it is still as much “of the whole human” as any body feature. That finger does not get to go off, alone, separate and distinct from human body and still survive. Yet that finger experiences just one point of view in the experience of human. That experience is called finger.

    A point of view in consciousness may be referred to as an “I” in the vernacular and may express the experience of its own experience or sensation which is not mutually shared with its neighboring points of view. Yet it is all in how we (we “I”s) listen our own point of view that determines our confusion or non-confusion over the whole/separate context and by extension, speaks confusion into other confused (listenings, or) points of view.

    The whole of consciousness is privy to all the goings on of consciousness and experience. The intensity of the experience of being a physical point of view housed in the occurrence of human masks the, subtle by comparison, experience of wholeness for a purpose. The sole purpose may be that we (we “I”s) distinctly experience experience for the whole of consciousness from our distinct points of view.

    What generally happens with language is hardly an evolution. It is more aptly a degenerative mutation. The value of language and its ability to communicate is in its distinctions. Without distinguishing the richness of listening from speaking, or love from need and attachment, nor truth from metaphor or validity we lose our capacity to relate to the wholeness of consciousness and eliminate our capacity to access it as source.

    So I further suggest that language can be viewed as the sea (or field) of consciousness in which we swim, having no (external nor internal) location rather than an external technology created or found by humans. It have it that it is the very essence of, and our access to, the experience for which we exist.

    It seems so appropriate to use “I” to refer to the point of view I experience through, yet my listening creates that “I” as a lens for the whole that listens or senses from a perspective not available from any other point of view. And yet, when I am that “I”, I have access to accepting the validity of all other points of view providing unique experience within the whole of consciousness because I get that that is all that I am and damned glad to Be.

    And Lisa, I acknowledge you for taking language on and your commitment to language that works.

    Steve Roberts 2010

  2. admin says:

    Steve,
    This is a beautiful reminder of the importance of both/and.

    I challenge your assumption that wholeness or separation is expressed and created in speaking and suggest that the idea of wholeness or separation is in the context of listening.

    Could it be that our assumption spans both speaking and listening? I know you know that when one listens from a broader context, such as the context of the whole, it empowers the speaker to say things s/he would not feel the “space” to say were the listener listening simply from a narrower, I-based context. Perhaps you are better at staying aware of the whole when listening than I am, but I often get sucked into listening from “what’s in it for me?” or “what does that person want from me?” Indeed, how can we remind ourselves to listen from that space of wholeness? I’m trying to propose a way to do that in our speaking, which would automatically trigger it in our listening as well. So if our language had the whole and the halves as a unit, that is, if the concept I had to use was one of speaking/listening I might not have been so careless. Thank you for pointing out that I only included half of the whole!

    And what if we listened from being whole rather than from an individuate sum of parts separated from other and from the whole?

    I would add to this, not just listen from being whole, but listen from being THE WHOLE. As you say, “The whole of consciousness is privy to all the goings on of consciousness and experience.” You are quite right. I’ll talk about The Holographic Universe in a later post, but for now, I’ll just say that it’s important to get that we are not just whole individuals, we are individuals AND the whole. That’s the paradox I want to bring into language.

    What generally happens with language is hardly an evolution. It is more aptly a degenerative mutation.

    I just started reading The Unfolding of Language, by Guy Deutscher. It looks at the issue of the degeneration of language, but also the creative aspects. I look forward to seeing what he has to say.

    The value of language and its ability to communicate is in its distinctions.

    Yes, and my project is to add to the types of distinctions we can make, not to decrease them.

    Steve, again, thanks for the challenge/contribution. This is what communication looks like when it’s working!! Loving it…

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