For over 35 years, Enid Vien has been a student of Humanity. Her searches have taken her through many philosophical, religious, and metaphysical pathways to the melding of method and magic that so characterizes her work today. She likes to call herself a pragmatic philosopher.
The following chapter from her book, The Healing Spirit is © 2007 by Enid Vien. For reprint rights, please contact
The Communication Theory
Communication is a great deal more than just words and their meanings (semantics). Not to dismiss semantics as a vital necessity for clear verbal as well as written communication. To clarify my position on this, let me say it is first necessary to fully define communication itself and discuss its composition, before one can worry about its content.
Communication is the relay of information, a message from one entity to another. One could argue that computer terminals do just that. However, until a live person reads the message, no actual communication has occurred. The data has merely been relayed from point A to point B. Data can be conveyed without words. A gesture, a sigh, a wagging tail, an attitude; all convey information from one living entity to another.
Our bodies relay data to us all the time, in the form of: hunger, exhaustion, repletion, comfort, warmth, aches, cold, discomfort, and pain. When we receive the communications, we decide whether we need to act or not in order to take care of the body. If we override an important signal, more communication will be forthcoming, until the body's needs are met. This tells us that the body has a certain sentience of its own, quite apart from our intellects and awareness. As there is life force in plant forms, they also sent out messages which you can receive if you are receptive. As has been previously noted, some house plants enjoy music and being talked to.
Less obvious is the communication from inanimate objects, for they are generally considered lacking in life force. Yet they also send out messages. Consider a painting, even a rock or a cloud, certainly a book. All convey data. There is dynamis in them or they would not exist at all. However they do not fulfill all the needs of a true communication unless someone has encoded a message within them. Like the computer, they do not create the communication, they can only relay it. Once in awhile, a sentient entity takes up residence in an object, causing much superstitious dream when someone receives an actual communication from a tombstone, or a stuffed moose head. I recall a restaurant in Los Angeles that displayed a stag with magnificent antlers on the wall above their fireplace. I doubt if they realized how uncomfortable many of their clientele felt. That the stag was inhabited was remarked upon by many, and I confess I shamelessly eavesdropped on other diners after I began to count up how many comments were made about this phenomena. The most frequent remark was: "The eyes are following me around." Next in frequency was, "I could swear that thing is alive."
For a complete communication we must have an originator and a recipient who are both sentient and capable of understanding the message. There has to be space between them through which the message travels. Absence of space makes communication either unnecessary or impossible. At the high end of the scale, complete understanding renders communication redundant, and at the low end it is too close to be seen, like the proverbial missing sunglasses that are eventually found on top of one's head.
There must be the will to communicate, the communication must be direct at the intended receiver, who must in turn have the willingness to receive, and finally there must be a message that can be understood and the recipient must be able to understand it without adding to, or subtracting from the message, or altering it in any way. (The receiver must receive an exact copy or duplicate of the message.)
This is one complete communication. Travelling one way. To reply, or acknowledge the communication the positions reverse, with the recipient now becoming the originator. This is then two-way communication.
This gives us the ingredients for communication.
message travels through space
Intends to send message
Willingness to receive
Observes to see if other
person is ready to receive
Clear message format
When any one of these ingredients is missing or messed up, the communication will not be complete and problems can, and usually do, follow. There are many ways a communication can fail to arrive, arrived mangled, or be misunderstood.
A communication can be mis-timed. For example, if the intended recipient is not where you expect him to be, or is otherwise occupied, then a communication will not be well received. When the recipient's attention is on something else, the communication, however important you think it is, may well be seen as an irritation interruption.
If the originator has no clear direction, a message intended for Joe can arrive at Mary. This is even true of spoken messages. You mean to talk to Joe but Mary intercepts. Or you mean to speak to Joe but direct the communication to Mary.
A communication can be made impossible to receive, arriving too fast or too slowly, too loudly or too softly for exact duplication. It can contain so much emotional that all the recipient receives is the emotion, and the verbal content of the message is never understood.
Naturally, a communication must be in a language that others speak, using terms and sentence construction the other can follow. In the case of a distant communication, it must not get altered along the route. Even a short distance can prove tricky, you say one thing and the recipient change it in some way, either from not hearing it correctly or by adding his own thoughts into it.
Often a word, imprecisely defined, can be not heard at all by the recipient, who simply leaves it out, glosses right over it, and thereby receives a message that is entirely different than the one you sent.
Notice we have yet to mention the content of the communication, except to say it must be understandable. There's more to this communication thing than meets the eye.
Communication seems to have its own laws. When you break them you get punished, sometimes severely. This makes you inclined to communicate less, since you usually have no clear idea of why you are being penalized. It is all too easy to conclude that is was communicating at all that caused the trouble.
The above is a bad idea. It leads towards death; the ultimate in noncommunicative states. It is those things one refuses to inspect or interact with that have the most power to harm us. If one does not study and communicate with, and about, those things one fears, then one will never learn how to safely handle them. Often one's fears may be groundless, in any case. Frequently they are based on assumptions made with insufficient data, or misinterpretations of the person's actual meaning and motives. Without communication, one will never find the truth.
This chapter so far has concentrated on the mechanics of communication. There is another aspect that has not been mentioned, and that is the dynamis content of a communication and the contact between two beings when a communication occurs. I put the two together because they have a close relationship. When a perfect duplicate of a communication sent by being A is achieved by being B, the space between the two beings temporarily vanishes and a complete understanding is accomplished. This can only occur when the dynamis in the communication is very pure, uncontaminated by disturbing emotion or reaction. It is relatively rare and a joyous phenomenon when experienced or even witnessed. In this case, the individuals have risen above mechanics and are communicating in a different zone or dimension.
Semantics1 (the meaning or significance of words) plays an important part in all communication. Using a word incorrectly can entirely change the meaning you meant to convey. Similarly, if the recipient has a peculiar and erroneous definition for one of the words you are using, the message is altered to mean something you didn't intend to say. This is a compelling argument for using a dictionary, not to mention for increasing one's vocabulary.
Poor grammar, or punctuation in written communication, can give a change of emphasis that alters the meaning beyond repair. In today's world, one needs to be linguistically well-educated and precise in the use of words.
Words are not the objects or ideas they represent. The word "chair" cannot be sat upon nor the word "desk" leaned up against. They are symbols for the actual object, either as sounds or writings. For some of you this will be obvious, for others seem like a mental puzzle. When the word represents an abstract concept, this gets harder to comprehend. Abstract concepts, such as honor, beauty, even significance itself, have such variable meanings within the minds of individuals, that there is no standard significance for them. We have no way of knowing, unless we discuss it, whether my idea of beauty and yours coincide. Such abstract concepts have no definite boundaries of agreement. These variable significances cause no end of confusion in communication. When you add to this the fact that many words do double, triple, or multiple duties, you can see at once that we have a semantic tangle that is tricky to solve. The little word "to" has half a page of definitions in the rather small dictionary I just consulted, and "as" is yet another culprit. These quirks of the language do not help one to be easily understood.
One can look at a vase and exclaim, "Oh! How lovely!" This is a value placed upon the object. The value is "lovely". The vase is a vase. Lovely is an opinion. Another person may think the vase is drab or boring. In both cases the vase is unchanged. If we measure it and say, "That vase is six inches high" this is a fact. Both are descriptive terms, lovely and six inches high, one is a value judgment (opinion), the other is a fact. Value judgements are arbitrary. Placed there by the beholder, they indicate a degree of appreciation or approval, as in "Good dog". This tells the dog he is appreciated for doing what his owner likes him to do. It does not have any actual reality; someone else may think Spot is a menace. Within the framework of what the owner of Spot wants from a dog, Spot is a good dog. Within the framework of what a mailman wants from a dog, he should have been drowned at birth.
Language has a framework that we loosely call grammar. In communication, it is not just the correct usage, but it is also the arrangement of words that dictate the meaning of a sentence and give us a complete thought. If you say, "The sky is cloudy," that is a statement. Moving one word gives you: "Is the sky cloudy?" The only thing that has changed is the order of the words, yet the meaning has completely shifted.
Our language has certain build-in liabilities, it follows the Aristotelian two-valued logic system of categorization (this or that), and this limits our thinking to judgments which fall within those patterns and values. For many centuries the mathematical values given to, let's say "A", were considered constants. This pattern was broken by Einstein and the quantum thinkers, who posited that values were not constant but relative to the relationships that "A" had, which changed as time elapsed. This gives us a multiple value system, where for instance "beauty" has meaning only relative to the time, place, and viewpoint, its value being entirely different in another context. So all abstract concepts and even apparently concrete realities have varying values according to the context or framework of relationships in the time-space continuum. In earlier mathematics usually only x, y, or z were given variable values. With the theory of relativity that changed drastically, as all symbols were seen to have values that changed as the symbols altered their relationship to other symbols. The language of mathematics allows it to be the cross-over point between physics and metaphysics, for it encompass both concrete and abstract concepts. We have no one word for relatively good, or for highest probability of existence in our spoken language, thus our oral traditions contain within them universals of speech that make them impossible to apply to a constantly changing world.
Simply put, a table which is a definite asset in the kitchen becomes a liability in the doorway. The table has not changed but its relationship to the house has changed. Ultimately, one can say, each object or subject is absolute within its own makeup, yet it has an infinitely variable relationship to other objects and subjects and its value is relative to that relationship.
Good and evil, right and wrong and other such concepts must, therefore, always be considered within the framework or surroundings, in which they are being considered. Good for the hunter is bad for the duck. Their survival necessities differ; therefore their relationship to good and bad do too.
So for a communication to do an adequate job, some idea of the framework in which it is being said is essential for complete comprehension. This is particularly true of the written word because in personal, face-to-face communication, we pick up much more than just the word values. We see the set of the mouth, the body position, sense the emotion along with the words and all of this gives us an idea of the framework and context in which the speaker is communication. So we can say to ourselves: "He is serious about this," or "He is angry right now, and I will wait till he cools down," or any number of judgements that one cannot make while reading.
It is useless to send a communication that is outside the context of the person addressed. One does not send a computer diskette to a person who cannot access the communication. Similarly, it is useless to send an encoded message to someone who cannot read the code. If I sent you a Russian translation of this book, (assuming you do not read Russian) it is unlikely that you would bother to get it translated. These are out-of-context communications.
To recap: communication has a formulation, an internal language structure, and an environmental and philosophical context. These are the mechanisms of communication. Higher levels of mutual understanding no longer quite fit in these boundaries. Telepathy, empathy and complete accord, to name a few abilities, need no mechanical limitations. However, the need to space-time continuum either and, as such, do not fulfill the definition of communication. Information is not transferred, but directly known.
In a world of constant change, the only constant is a being, and even beings change their minds. If we accept this as a basic premise, we can then see that the physical universe is a magnificent trap, in which we seek stability yet find only motion. The viewer is the only constant; that which is viewed or created is subject to constant change. Some of these changes, as has been previously discussed, result from the act of viewing or the dynamis of the viewer interacting upon the object of attention.
From these principles a methodology of communication, including the communication of reading, can begin to be derived. One modern mathematician philosopher, F.J. Tipler, defines a living being as: "Any entity which codes information (in the physical sense of the word) with the information coded being preserved by natural selection." He has left out of this definition the entity as itself and therefore cannot be given much credence, especially as he goes on to define a person a s a computer program that can pass the Turing test.2. While computers may demonstrate intelligence when put to the Turing test, they do not originate dynamis or ideas and therefore are not a complete being. The criteria of intelligence is not the only criteria that must be applied to a living being. Intelligence alone cannot be presumed to be consciousness. Alan Turing assumed that intelligence, consciousness, personality and conscience were linked; that if the one was present, the others necessarily were too. I do not accept this as either logical or possible, for it leaves out the creative, originative factor, dynamis. Naturally it must also omit intuition, hunches, extra sensory perceptions and emotion as a manifestation of life forces.
It is the creative, originative factor that is the basis of the philosophy of Dynamism.
1From the Greek semantikos: to signify.
2Turing test = a test given to test if a computer can be considered sentient, based on its ability to respond to questions, and carry one a conversation in a rational manner. If it acts as though it has a personality and consciousness, then it does. It is rather on the same lines of "if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck."