June 11, 2009

by Stephen and Ondrea Levine

Sujata used to say, “Let it go! But if you can’t let it go, I guess you’ll just have to communicate.”

Communication is a crossing of our boundaries. At best, it attempts to transmit the heart. At least, it attempts understanding.

Because everyone seems to be born with perceptual quirks unique to their personality, or what some call “karma,” misunderstanding naturally arises between somewhat different “realities.” When this occurs, communication becomes a peacemaker, an attempt at understanding sent out by carrier pigeon over the fortress walls. We think the moat of our affected indifference will protect us. But our castles are burning. And in our confusion, we try to hide smoke instead of extinguish the fire. Much of our “communication” is an attempt at smoke control. Much comes from the fear that another will see us as we fear we really are-confused and clever, hidden and theatrical, self-interested, angry, distrustful. We are afraid to share our grief, so little of ourselves have we surrendered to its healing. We weigh our words. No one says quite what they mean. We bargain for love in dulcet tones like a cat wrapping itself, purring, around our ankles.


Most use language the way a sightless person uses a cane: to clear the path ahead, a kind of emotional sonar to test for safe ground. Reacting as much to tone as to meaning. Speech for most is not so much a form of communication as a proclamation of self, a marking of territory, pissing on the bushes to let those who follow know who went before. It is a declaration of dominion. Going off a few paces, lifting our leg, philosophizing.

But true communication comes out of a powerful willingness not to protect oneself or event to be right. It comes from a longing for the truth, as painful as that may be at times. It comes out of direct perception. Out of a big mindfulness of the process comes an increasing capacity to reveal blockages and embrace this unique other as is.

Communication, like relationship itself, is the art of space. It is a sense of timeliness and an ongoing exploration of the intention to communicate. It is a deep questioning of what, indeed, communicates.

It is said that Jesus, asked about acceptable eating practices, replied, “Don’t worry about what goes into your mouth, worry about what comes out of it.” Perhaps he recognized that, in either case, we are most often asleep when our mouth is open. So much of what passes for communication is not much more than a mumbling in our sleep. Seldom are we so mechanical or unaware as when we are telling someone who we think we are.

To small mind, communication keeps the world orderly and maintains its horizons. To big mind, communication is that which connects the heart with the disheartened. To the little mind, communication gets you what you want. To the great heart, communication is the ability to commune in beingness itself.

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