The Language of Humanity
- By Yin Cheng, OHY
- May 15, 2004
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I will not speak of the language of men - the language they use to convey their thoughts about the world. I will not even address the infinite varieties of speech, the richness of vocabularies, the fullness of expression. And despite the uniqueness of the language of men - its privileged state in the choir of voices in our universe - I will not speak about this kind of communication. This is not the language I mean.
There is a spiritual state in which all human speech is transcended. The German language has a word for that exquisite state: Gewissen (conscience). Gewissen is the language of the soul, the divine idiom. In Gewissen, God's voice bypasses human ears and directly enters the heart. And when men truly praise God or beg for guidance in a time of trial, Gewissen is the language they use.
All men can learn this language, for it has no words. Yet, it is not simple to learn. Most men do not want to speak or hear it. Their prayers of thanksgiving too often express deliverance from evil and their supplications are pleas of desperation. Those of us who have learned it can remember the helplessness we knew, that wretched state of mind that made us seem so deaf and dumb to the language of men. But those of us who have learned it also know that this Voice of Silence, this eternal expression of our connection to the Divine, is the most beautiful language in the world.
Too many of us are not merely silent - we are mute. Yes, we speak the jargon of economic progress, of technological achievement; but we do not speak the language of the heart. We are driven by meanness and greed into the cacophony of base instinct.
The time has come for those of us who have learned both languages, the human and the divine, to speak freely and openly about the need for all men to learn about Gewissen.
Human beings must not remain deaf and dumb to the Heart's language...and be Gewissenlöse - unscrupulous men. Human existence depends upon our learning to speak with conscience. Gewissenhaft.
Buildings rise and fall. Civilizations flower and decay. Vocabularies drift into oblivion. All is impermanent in the great flux of the material world. But the Voice of Conscience expresses an eternal communion, one that unites us in dignity and gives meaning and purpose to our lives.