28: Languages, empathy and spirituality
Written by Linden Alexander Pentecost on the 8th of November 2023 and published as article 28 on www.bookofdunbarra.co.uk . This article or piece of writing is a little different from my other material on this website, but I feel it is important and I wanted to write this. This article or section of writing contains 510 words.
For me personally, languages are quite mystical things. My interest in languages is inseparable from a whole range of feelings and instincts that I feel connect me to the world itself. I think this is true for many people who are interested in languages, but for some of us, like me, it takes a spiritual dimension as well.
Sometimes I have thought of languages as forms of magic. And that by learning a language, we are in a sense able to connect to a magic, to people, and to nature, and all things in nature described by that language. This “nature” aspect is of particular importance to me, and when it comes to the languages I feel most connected to, this connection is also present in how the nature of these places makes me feel.
When I was 18 years old I remember having my cat, a kitten at the time. And watching bits of Western films. Many of the landscapes in North America feel special to me, and I have tried, sometimes better than others, to connect to this and to learn at least a little of the languages spoken in those particular places.
And I wished I would be there, with my cat, staying in a cabin in the mountains of Montana, living out a simple life, fishing on the river, riding a horse, being friends with the indigenous people there and living honourably towards them.
Spirit seems to open us to a vaster and more coherent sense of our mind, imagination and universe, our dreams, our reality, and our true purpose, all of which are deeply connected, and play out in life meaningfully.
One thing that is really memorable here is when I was on a Scottish island once, and I was walking home. It was May time and windy, the shadows of mountains stood like sacred pyramids against the starlit sky.
And I remember looking into that sky, and for a moment, its shape and life became known to me, and I knew that all of creation was spirit and the origin of life, and that it was joyous. And so I realised that perhaps sometimes to see the Great Spirit is to see the world through the eyes of the Great Spirit. I think that our true nature as loving beings, guardians of the animals and the earth, is written in all of us.
We should listen to others for important moral advice and to develop a better understanding. But only we as individuals can know that exact thing of purpose, love and belonging, in its special forms, that reveals to us the true depth of our spirit and enormity of our love.
A note on how I use the term "Great Spirit": Many indigenous cultures in North America from my understanding, perhaps most? Are often described as polytheistic and animistic, although in terms of polytheism, the exact way in which an indigenous North American culture's "gods" coincide with common western ideas about "gods" does vary. This is also so for terms like "shaman", which is a Samoyedic word. Whilst many indigenous North American cultural and religious practices have traits that could be considered "shamanic" in a sense, not every culture can be said to have the same concept of "shaman", "seer", or "god". The way that I use the term "Great Spirit" is not in my opinion really comparable to the word "god" in our modern understanding of the word, or to Latin DEVS for example. I refer to "Great Spirit" perhaps in line with how certain indigenous North American peoples have a similar concept, but again this does not make those cultures monotheistic. My use of "Great Spirit" is to speak of that which is beyond religious ability and duty, i.e. seer, shaman, tietäjä in Finnish, noaidi in Saami, and to speak of that which is beyond "gods" as we understand them. The Great Spirit is not something that can be understood in terms of "this god is above all others" or "this is the only god to have authority and to be the creator of all things". Whilst there may be some truth here, these statements are trying to picture that which is beyond, inside a box. In the first example the box is the sense of lower and higher, in the second example, well, authority is something of our reality, and of the box. The Great Spirit is not the same god as that in the Bible, which again, attaches the Great Spirit to certain symbols and ideas of our reality that give a false impression of what the true parts are about, in my opinion. However, ironically, the English language does at its core recognise the true meaning of "God" to be "good", as the word God comes from Old English gód, which means "good". But this only really encaptulates the rough idea and the modern English word "good" does not really encaptulate the Great Spirit. No word can I think.