Note: This post is the first in a series of columns introducing Lingua-U, a proposed World Language based on integral principles. The language’s logo is inspired by the Tai Hsuan, the ternary symbol of Master Yang Hsiung’s classic of Supreme Mystery.
Taking the reigns of language’s evolution
Evolutionary spiritual principles describe a world in which the Source of All is the force of evolution itself, continually creating novelty from the interaction of interconnected patterns and apparently random events. The cosmos unfolds greater and greater degrees of consciousness, culminating in God-consciousness, the recognition of our unity with All.
In Tielhard de Chardin’s famous neologism, we are moving toward Christogenesis. Everything evolves, we evolutionaries say, to a telos, however imperfectly we understand it and however obscurely it manifests. Such end-point is not an abstract future event, but a living reality already present in the Now, woven together with the past and current time.
There is nothing without a role in the cosmic unfolding, no part separate from the whole, nothing so profane that it is excluded from being at least a twinkling moment of the divine. Accordingly, we can look at something like language and ask: how does it evolve in degrees of greater consciousness?
The fullness of Logos, the emptiness of silence
With this question in mind, imagine a world without language of any kind. No “I love you,” no “hello,” and no “goodbye.” Nameless people live and die without uttering anything of importance. Even the grunts of wild hairy cave-dwellers form no meaningful patterns capable of signifying wants, needs, or feelings.
Such a world is nothing like existence as we know it, for communication among sentient beings is constitutive of everything we know from the tiniest, most rudimentary creature to the greatest of enlightened sages. Such a world is truly empty, without fullness. It is without life.
Out of the silent darkness emerges a living reality. Truly it is as the Gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Thus Logos — that primordial connection among beings which expresses itself through communication — is a precondition of thought, and therefore the stuff of consciousness. Logos is one with fullness, without which no form of spiritual enlightenment is complete.
Whenever human beings have known God as a personal relationship, God has a name and communicates with words. With Logos, God is not a first cause or prime mover conceived by philosophers, but the One who dwells in “I am that I am.” (Ehyeh asher ehyeh)
The philosopher Plato was one of the first human beings to understand that language is not a purely arbitrary construct but one modeled on the nature of consciousness itself. He believed that sounds imitated the nature of things.
In the dialogue Cratylus, he suggests that speech is a kind of action of which it can be said that
“the successful speaker [is] he who speaks in the natural way of speaking, and as things ought to be spoken, and with the natural instrument… Any other mode of speaking will result in error and failure.”
The history of modern philosophy is a tale of people increasingly recognizing how important it is to take a serious and close look at language if we are to better understand what it means to be human. And it is a distinguishing feature of postmodern philosophy since the publication of Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics in 1913 that the linguistic sign is intrinsically arbitrary.
The enormous influence of a postmodern view of language obscured the longstanding contrary view of Plato and all the world’s major spiritual traditions that linguistic signs are actually divine manifestations.
It defies belief, I think, that truths demonstrable with plain common sense investigations — just an open mind, pen, paper, and a dictionary — could ever have been forgot.
But they were.
Towards a post-metaphysical meta-language
Although postmodern thinkers have added tremendously to our understanding of linguistics, their ideas eclipsed the sacred word traditions to great loss. Fortunately, this is a time when postmodernity is dissolving into something novel and emergent, and many people are once again asking questions about language that have historically only been asked by a few.
We are asking if it may be that Plato was right all along and postmodern philosophers have gone off the rails. In short, we are inquiring as to whether the sacred word traditions of Kabbalah, Kototama, Arabic numerology, runes, Celtic magick, and other mystical lineages bear within their esoteric wisdom the seeds of a new approach to language. And if so, how can these traditions be reconstructed so as to take into account the criticisms of postmodern thought?
If it is true as we believe that language evolves, then we are compelled to investigate linguistic changes with the seriousness that we take biological evolution and psychological development theory. We need to inquire into the potential of post-postmodern semiotics.
We do not assume that linguistic changes are arbitrary, but we will examine the evidence for clues of a telos. We will try to approach language with beginner’s mind (Shoshin).
In “The Language Divine,” a new column on Awake, Alive & Aware, we’ll be taking a practical orientation to sacred language for English speakers. Our aim is to reveal insights into the way that everyday language creates consensual reality so that we may better take the conscious reigns of our own speech.
By so doing, we may bust out of unconscious repetition of ingrained patterns to make way for new ways of speaking that are healing, rejuvenating, and revelatory. And pave the way for speakers of other languages to contribute to the co-creation of a world language.
A World Language based on Integral principles
Our ultimate aim is to establish the groundwork for a sacred form of communication called Lingua-U, a prototype of a World Language based on Integral principles.
Lingua-U is properly said to be a World Language or a form of communication, not a language in the traditional sense. We say this because — as you will see — it is designed to express meaning not merely through sound and lexical correspondences, but through subtle energy patterns which can be as easily given with number, music, color, martial arts, dance, or any number of media.
In future columns, I will attempt to show that if a new universal language is to emerge in the course of human evolution — and linguistic studies arguably show that this sort of development is happening today — that it will be based on what Plato called a “natural way of speaking” with the “natural instrument.”
The day when any constructed language (Esperanto, Interlingua, Lingua-U, etc.) achieves wide acceptance is not in sight. But we may yet see a day in which some cutting-edge thinkers take up an auxiliary language based on subtle energy patterns as a discipline of conscious evolution, an individual/collective practice of re-constructing their own inner “self-talk” and the “self-talk” of a community in order to advance the course of human evolution. They will do so not to be able to impress waiters in a foreign country with their ability to communicate their meal order, but to give themselves an essential tool for becoming more fully who they are, to come closer to a natural way of being in the world.
The point of such a language — its grandest and most humble aspiration — is to take small steps down the road that evolution appears to be leading: a more beautiful and aesthetic world in which language is not an obstacle to fully embodied and awakened spirituality but a helper, educating us into greater self-knowledge.
In spiritual terms it is to quicken the day when all human beings realize their ultimate identity with Logos. As Tielhard de Chardin would probably agree, it is to take our part in ushering the return of Christ.
You may have heard that the next Buddha will be a sangha, but “The Language Divine” will make the case that the next Christ — the eternal Logos — will be the essence of that sangha’s communication.