Sacred Communication–A Workshop


Yesterday I participated in a workshop called Sacred Communication that was put on by Rev. Henrietta Byrd at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Park Forest, IL.   The purpose of this post is to describe the workshop in general, because  it has given me much pause for reflection since I participated in it yesterday.

1.  Introduction

Ironically, this is the week that I have been writing posts on Communication Management for my review of the Guide to the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK Guide for short.    The purpose of Sacred Communication was to show ways in which we can make our internal communication stronger and more authentic, so that we can then communicate with others in a more authentic way.

2.  Sacred Communication–Principles

As Henrietta Boyd explained the workshop, the ideas behind Sacred Communication are as follows:

  • You cannot have authentic communication with others unless you have authentic communication with yourself.
  • You cannot have authentic communication with yourself unless you separate those thoughts and emotions which come from your deepest aspirations, as opposed to those you have been conditioned to assuming by the environment in which you live.
  • The ethical basis with which you treat other people must be the same basis that you treat yourself.
  • Authentic communication comes from treating yourself with the ethical basis of compassion.
  • Compassion has two forms, yin and yang, or what we normally think of as normal compassion and what is commonly termed “tough love”.   The wisdom of knowing what form of compassion to use at what time is developed from experience.

3.  The Language of Spiritual Communication

Some of the people in the workshop came from an Eastern religious perspective, where everyone is imbued with the divine spark.    This is the first-person perspective of divinity, which is a religion of ultimate identity with the divine..    Others came from a Western religious perspective, where you can have a relationship with the divine, but the idea of identity with the divine is the ultimate heresy from that perspective.    This is the second-person perspective of divinity.  And then there were others in the workshop who were agnostic or atheist, where the principles of ethics derive from rational principles:   this can be seen as a third-person perspective of divinity, which doesn’t recognize the traditional idea of a deity at all.    This perspective is just as important in the history of our country as the second-person perspective in the form of Christianity.
Here’s a piece of evidence:   the original wording of the opening to the Declaration of Independence was “we hold these truths to be sacred.”    However, Benjamin Franklin suggested that “sacred” be changed to “self evident” so that those who do not believe in any particular deity could still be included as supporting the principles of the declaration.    So the workshop could have been called “Self Evident Communication” instead of “Sacred Communication.”    I think it is important in the interfaith movement to aware of the different “spiritual languages” of the world and to be able to understand that on the surface, they seem different, but they all have the same “deep structure” which leads to the same ethical precept of The Golden Rule, whether stated in the Bible, the Quran, or in the writings of Immanuel Kant.    
4.  Conclusion
The point of this workshop was, before we talk to others, we need to first know how to talk to ourselves to find the voice within that is the most authentic, which represents, in Abraham Lincoln’s phrase, the “better angels of our nature.”
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