‘Mind, Consciousness and Thought are the complete Trinity of all psychological functioning … [a]ll living creatures, great and small, interpret what they think of life via these divine gifts’.
Being the 80th birthday year of Dr. Jane Goodall and the fact that I was going to see her in Sydney, as she conducted her tour of Australia, got me thinking about the curious fact of language beyond words. When we are born and for the first couple of years we have what is known as non-verbal thinking. Yet, they are still thoughts all the same. Of course, if asked what ‘Thought’ really is, most of us are at a loss to say exactly what it is. We all know we ‘think’, but pinning it down into words and concepts we trip over ourselves because it is like a slippery fish, ever evading our capture.
The research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian* suggests that approximately ninety percent of all communication is non-verbal, that at least gives us a clue as to what lies beyond the words we use every day. A look, a smile, a commanding gesture, as the poet Walt Whitman has suggested, all have meanings of their own. Why then do we place so much emphasis on words and language? The late Mr. Sydney Banks invariably began most, if not all of his public addresses with the prelude of: “Don’t listen to my words”. Adding that if an audience were to only listen to the words, they would find an argument, yet if they listened beyond the words they may get a deeper sense of the truth of what he was endeavouring to share. As Peter Drucker explains: ‘The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said’.
Each one of us is born with an innate wisdom that if we had no formal education, no language, no way of verbally communicating with each other whatsoever, we would still be exceedingly capable of living out a full and healthy life. This wisdom is beyond words; it is what guides us through life. It is what we sometimes call common sense or intuition, or gut feeling. It has no form, only an undeniable feeling from within. We have all experienced it in those magical moments when we simply know something is right. Likewise, looking out into the beauty of nature, we don’t need words or education to help us luxuriate in its splendor; we just feel it from within.
This wisdom is the intelligence of all things and has no boundaries. Every living thing in the universe is imbued with it. When an animal looks out onto the world as we do, they feel the sun on their skin in the same way. Each creature is guided and communicates through this same wisdom as humans do. Everyone who has ever had a pet will know this for a fact. The only difference is that humans have language and words, which makes up the other ten percent of our communication with each other. Yet, even this is only possible because of the intelligence that is common to all life, which springs forth from the essence of our being. What our fellow beings lack in words they make up in many ways we do not yet fully understand; communication is universally common to all species.
Therefore, while babies or small children don’t understand the words a parent uses, they do feel the tone, and fully understand whether they are safe or not. In many ways things don’t really change all that much as we grow older. This is why we can always tell when someone is not feeling great; even if we can’t see them as in a telephone conversation, we can tell by the tone of their voice. A loved one can say: “I’m fine” (when they are clearly not), yet we know this is not the truth. How do we know? The answer lies in our innate wisdom that guides us through our entire lives, if we but listen.
Thus communication between all living things is taking place all of the time, without our even knowing it. This deeper universal communication beyond formal language takes place via what could be described as a transmission and points towards the reality of who we are as beings in this vast cosmos. This is probably why, when we begin to relax more into life, that we start to see the world anew. Colours seem brighter; people, animals, nature and the universe all seem to take on a deeper significance in our lives and we begin to feel more in harmony with all life.
Ultimately, it is what we carry in our hearts that is communicated to the world, not the thin veneer of words that our language allows us to convey, and the quieter our mind becomes the clearer the message of love shines out of us, and we didn’t even need to say a word.
Dedicated to the wonderful Dr. Jane Goodall, thank you for all you bring to this world, warmest wishes for you and all your endeavours, Dean Rees-Evans