Whisper Down the Lane

By Anthony Gold

I used to work for a giant computer company that had many layers of management. The big boss would tell one of his deputies what he wanted, who in turn would communicate it to one of the VPs, who would inform the director, who passed it along to the department head, and so on the message propagated until it reached us worker bees.

Got it – we’ll get it built.

Of course what we ended up developing wasn’t exactly what the president had in mind. Just like the children’s game of Whisper Down the Lane, errors accumulate in each “telling” of the message. We think we properly hear what the person said, and we act accordingly.

Independent of the countless hops incurred by a corporate communique or a child’s whispering game, there’s a purposeful fundamental precept in all forms of information exchange – conveying meaning. We have a message we want to pass along, and we use words to affect such understanding.

But all too often the message we think we’re transferring is not at all the message interpreted by the receiver. We need look no further than email.

I’ve lost count of the number of arguments, bruised egos, and broken relationships resulting from email messages that had completely divergent meanings for the sender and the recipient. Damage control becomes the norm, and more emails are required to patch the rift opened by the prior ones.

The problem, of course, is that the writer of the message has a clear understanding of what she is trying to articulate. Yet the recipient has her own filter by which she uses to process the message. And this certainly isn’t limited to email. In any form of communication, we write and speak with a very clear understanding of what is meant or intended by the message. But the person on the receiving end interprets via their own worldview.

A very popular form of conflict resolution – often leveraged in couples counseling – utilizes a technique known as active listening in which participants observe the speaker’s words, body language, and behavior following which they paraphrase back the message they believe was communicated. “What I think I heard you say was _____. Did I understand that correctly?”

This form of communication handshake can be quite effective at reducing misinterpretations, particularly when both participants are striving for clarity.

But the ultimate technique for understanding exactly what is being communicated is hearing (and seeing) through the mind of oneness. In fact, there are only two modes of message transmission: ego and spirit, and one of them can hardly be called communication.

The ego is against communication, except insofar as it is utilized to establish separateness rather than to abolish it. (T-4.VII.2)

The messages the ego transmits are little and limited, and so fragmented they are meaningless. (T-18.IX.2)

When we are joined with the spirit mind of oneness, we see beyond the limitations of the body, and recognize all messages as either an extension of love or a crying out for love.

Love’s messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of [the ego] are harshly ordered to seek out guilt, and cherish every scrap of evil and sin they can find. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. (T-19.IV.A.11)

Which master do we obey as we communicate throughout our daily lives? If we suffer from any aspect of sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, shame, lack, fear, or guilt – then we can be sure we are complying with the dictates of the ego. But that need not be.

Join us in Monday’s class where we will explore this concept of message transmission and how we can learn to hear (and experience) only love’s messengers:

They will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind. (T-19.IV.A.14)

I look forward to seeing you then.

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