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Both technology and art are considered artificial in that they are made by human beings through creative action which transcends the natural processes of all other living organisms. Science aims to know; art endeavors to express well. Technology, which applies the knowledge of science, always has an artistic element in its creation and production even though it may not be emphasized. In a broad sense there is an art to doing anything well, and any activity can be perceived as an art by looking for beauty in the process and result.
Beauty is certainly a key principle of art. While we act for the good and contemplate the truth, beauty is experienced through observation. Art is the beauty created by human beings. Natural beauty can also be enjoyed, but art depends on creativity. Although all art is understood by some means of perception, various value systems may add other criteria of appreciation besides beauty such as harmony, balance, meaningfulness, originality, intensity, unity, purpose, expression, etc. The experience of art has two sides—the creative process of the artist and the appreciation of the observer. Both can be enhanced greatly by education and training, though many believe in God-given or innate talent for artistic creativity and the innate intuition of appreciation. I believe these innate qualities come from the spirituality of the soul and its many experiences in previous existences. This helps to explain child prodigies and the varying talents of what should otherwise be equal souls. The gift of talent has been developed and earned either in previous lifetimes on Earth or in experiences in other realms of consciousness.
For many people art is the most meaningful part of life and a highly esteemed value, and almost everyone enjoys some form of art, if only for occasional relaxation. Art serves as communication for the improvement of social relationships through greater understanding of human experience. Art is society’s great cultural university that is open to all. Art also serves as a channel of expression to release, elevate, and understand our inner conflicts, fears, and tensions as well as our aspirations, hopes, and ideals. This sublimation may occur both in the creating artist and the sympathetic audience.
The art of making something that is useful is a craft. We may appreciate the artistic qualities of the object, but it also serves a functional purpose. This is in contrast to the fine arts, which Kant defined as art as an end in itself or art for art’s sake. Crafts integrate art into our daily lives. As long as the crafted object accomplishes its function, it does not have to stand on its own as an artistic achievement. This double value of crafts makes them worthwhile if they serve either purpose well and intensifies their value if they accomplish both.
There is a subtle pleasure in using objects that are beautifully crafted. This pleasure is greatly increased if we have created the object ourselves. So many aspects of our lives can be aesthetically enriched by quality crafts—clothes, furniture and interior decorating, dishes and cooking, landscape design, etc. As we evolve in awareness and prosperity, I believe we will place greater value on aesthetic qualities and products of durable practical use. Intelligent and educated people will reject cheap, crude, and quickly obsolescent products in favor of well-crafted objects that function well and last a long time. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
With more leisure time many people may choose to make things for themselves with the help of modern tools and resources so that they can experience the process of artistic creativity and make a product that they can use, sell, or give away. Such experience offers many practical lessons as well as artistic expression and is intrinsically rewarding.
Another functional art is architecture, the design of buildings and other large structures. This art combines the practicality of living space, strength and availability of materials, conservation of energy, and aesthetic appearance. Architecture creates indoor space and shapes the environment. Many practical and safety concerns must be taken into consideration which are usually mandated by building codes. Aesthetic choices and the building’s relationship to the natural environment, such as the direction of the sun, are usually left to the creators. The beauty of a neighborhood or community may depend on the harmony between the styles of buildings that are situated together. As we become more prosperous, artistic values will probably have a larger interest beyond mere cost and efficiency.
Drawing, painting, and sculpture are among the oldest arts of mankind, having been used for fertility and hunting. With the exception of motion pictures, which will be discussed under dramatic art, visual art is spatial rather than temporal. Drawings, paintings, photos, and sculptures are a moment captured forever in picture and form. The sense of movement is given to the art by the moving eyes of the viewers. Cubism particularly implies movement in the various aspects it depicts. Mobiles may move a little, but they are exceptions. Usually visual art stops a situation so that our consciousness may have time to examine and appreciate that moment as expressed by the artist.
Light and shadow, color and form, texture and intensity, representation and expression, these are the ways that art speaks to us. Before photography these arts were the main way to describe and convey visual experience to future generations. Our knowledge of what most historical people looked like comes to us from sculpture and portraits. Art also tells many things about artists’ experiences, values, and feelings in addition to their expressive skill. Art can teach us how to see with more discrimination, sensitivity, and understanding. Art can inspire us toward ideals and warn us of social problems.
We may use our indoor wall space for these gifts of Spirit; murals may appear outdoors, and sculpture may be placed anywhere. We set aside museums for these collected treasures of our society so that anyone can appreciate them.
The experience of creating art really helps us to see and examine light, color, and shape more carefully. It allows us to express ourselves and develops manual dexterity as well as perceptual sensitivity. It enables us to draw forth from within ourselves that which we want to convey to others.
Music is expressed in time rather than space. Excepting the words of songs which are poetry, music is the most abstract, ethereal, and mathematical of the arts. As vibrations without direct and clear reference to representation of practical experience in the physical world, music is perhaps more heavenly than earthly. Music has tremendous power to move us emotionally directly as it bypasses our conceptual categories. Abstract art can also do this, but most visual art works with our concepts of what we are seeing. With music usually a title or lyrics are needed to focus the mind into conceptual categories.
Music uses the sense of hearing and is expressed through melody, rhythm, harmony, tone, timbre, etc. We make music with our voice and other instruments. Because music essentially fills all available space during its sequence in time, it can give us a great sense of oneness with our environment and other people. Although the individual attention of listening may vary, all the people in the same area hear more or less the same sounds. Thus the basis of our musical experience is this common ground of sound. We do not move our ears the way we move our eyes.
Music affects our feelings easily, is a great source of joy, and can be used in many ways to shape the attitudes, moods, and demeanor of an audience. Thus it has become an essential factor in drama through the electronic media. Military bands have been employed to rouse and stir people into patriotic excitement and enthusiasm while muzak is increasingly being used to pacify people in commercial establishments, workplaces, elevators, and waiting rooms. Music, like other arts, can be used to manipulate people.
Music stands on its own as an art when it is listened to for its own sake. Music surrounds us and is absorbed into ourselves rather like a bath. The rhythms, melodies, and harmonies deeply affect our subconscious. Because of the innate rhythms in our bodies, it is natural to move spontaneously with the music we are hearing. Music can help us to attune ourselves to a harmonious, rhythmic and universal spirit and can subtly heal us on many levels of consciousness. Cacophonous noises, which can be the worst kind of pollution because there may be no escape, can cause irritation and disease-causing stress.
The making of sounds comes naturally to new-born children, and most people have a spontaneous desire to make some kind of music. Though many may be deterred by professional competition and formal training, people can benefit greatly by experimenting with music, even if it is just singing along. The creation of music is a spiritual process. More than any other art, the gifts of composers can be re-experienced and brought to life again by each new generation in the playing of their music. New music can also be composed by anyone. In jazz musicians can have great fun in playing with music.
Moving our bodies with music is also a primal art. In dance the body is the instrument and medium of communication. We can dance individually, in couples, or as a group. Though singing may accompany it, dance of itself is nonverbal and fairly abstract.
Dance fills all the dimensions of space-time and is extremely difficult to codify into a language of notation. Each dance conveys a unique expression, and motion pictures can capture it for posterity. Dance, like music and drama, is performance, usually before an audience, if not merely for one’s own enjoyment. Dance is the most energetic of the arts and thus also offers an excellent means of exercise that includes the artistic aspect. Dance not only is a liberating form of personal expression, but also it can be a therapeutic and healthy activity and extremely joyful.
Literature is the art of communication through written language. Language is conceptual, symbolic, and sequential. Literature has some visual art in calligraphy, typography, and illustrations. Although literature may be an oral tradition or may be performed by reading aloud, the written letters are essentially divorced from the vibrations of sight and sound. The readers may hear the sound of the words and visualize what they describe in their own imaginations. The abstract step of language fundamentally reverses the process from that of nonverbal art. Pictures and sounds are particular things that we observe with our senses as we do in life experience; then with our mind we try to understand what we are perceiving by interpreting what we see and hear. Language gives the mind a linear sequence of abstract concepts to understand and interpret and perhaps convert back toward perceptual experience by imagining. Recent psychological experiments have shown that the linear language function is processed by the left hemisphere of the brain in most people. Spatial and holistic functions are usually handled by the right hemisphere. These two sets of functions are constantly interrelating. For example, a writer may visualize a scene in the imagination before converting it into a verbal description. A musician who reads music very well has transferred that ability into a form of language utilizing the left hemisphere.
Yet language contains many words that are not merely direct symbols of sensory experiences but convey abstract or mental relationships as well as emotional feelings and intuitive perceptions. Thus through language we are able to communicate many aspects of our conscious experience, and readers can understand the concepts by correlating them with their own experiences which share a similar field of meanings for each word and group of words. Language must be learned, or it is relatively meaningless. Such is the case with a foreign language if we are not able to translate it into words or concepts that we understand. Yet through translation the meaning is roughly conveyed, although it may be altered somewhat. Yet any awareness of experience may similarly be modified and reduced when it is put into language by the writer and converted back into concepts and images by the reader. The intelligent reader by drawing on experience and intuitive insight may even understand the situation described better than the writer, but usually not as well.
Nevertheless through writing and reading human beings have learned to convey information transcending the direct sensory contact of being in the same space-time proximity. Through literature we can read what someone wrote in any other place and at any previous time. This is one of the main ways that humans “bind time,” as Korzybski expresses it. Through art, science, and technology we are able to pass on knowledge that we have gained to future generations for their use and benefit. Language was probably the first major medium of this transfer, and through writing that transmission was made more stable and reliable.
Many of the varieties of writing are not described as literature, a term usually reserved for any writing that is considered artful. Mere record keeping, business communication, and even journalism and personal correspondence may not be thought of as literature, though often they rise to that height. Let us look briefly at the literary arts of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction before discussing drama and then communication in general.
In oral traditions song, rhythm, and rhyme are often used as aids to memory as well as to please the listeners. Thus much of the earliest written literature was in the form of poetry, even though the works were often quite long, as in Homer. Poetry by its rhythmic sounds, images, and metaphors contrasts with everyday talk by its artistic design. Words are carefully chosen not merely for their direct meaning but also for their aesthetic effect on the listeners, their deeper and symbolic meanings, and their relationship to the poem as a whole.
Poetry has been called the language of the heart or of the soul because it enables us to express our more exalted feelings and thoughts using rhythm and rhyme with sensitivity, subtlety, and style. Poets are free to explore metaphorical relationships of all aspects of life without feeling required to explain their logical connections in a linear and analytic manner. Reading poetry can broaden and expand our awareness of the subtle meanings of life and give us a deeper appreciation of experience. Writing poetry enables us to explore our intuitive perceptions, deep feelings, and even our subconscious wishes, fears, dreams, and fantasies as well as refining our use of language. Poetry is special language, and in that process of concentration it tends to spontaneously elevate our consciousness, stimulating us to reach for new insights and modes of expression. Often a person who is experiencing profound emotions, especially love, can find expression and release in the writing of poetry by communicating those feelings in exalted language.
Fiction is storytelling that is usually contrasted with fact in the historical sense. All facts are past events that have already been experienced and cannot be changed. Yet when we read about something, whether it is fact or fiction, our present awareness is having a literary experience that comes after the writing of those words. Fiction is the writer’s imaginative creation through language, and fact is the author’s interpretation of events or some aspect of life. In the present reality of our reading experience we can learn from and apply the ideas according to our own experience of what is described. Because of our creative consciousness we can experience and learn from imagination just as we can from facts. Yet somehow the novelist and short-story writers must draw on their life experience in such a way that touches ours and moves us by its spiritual reality.
Fiction may be highly imaginative and fantastic, but enough of the words must be understood to enable us to grasp the new vision. Thus as in everyday experience, we use our past experiences as a basis for learning new things. Fiction can vicariously give us new experiences in a detached imaginative process whereby we are not compelled to act in one way or another by our physical presence in the situation. We may identify with the writer’s point of view, but even then we are in a transcendental state that allows us to be objective about the author’s perspective and all the characters in the story. Skilled poets and novelists are able to describe experience so effectively that readers are interested enough to enjoy and learn about those vicarious situations. In this way people broaden their experience and learn new things without the pain and suffering of physical interaction. However, the learning is limited in that it is passive and theoretical until it is applied in action.
Nonfiction writing describes and discusses actual experience and such aspects of life as history, biography, sciences, technology, business, and philosophy as well as criticism of the arts. Although imagination is used, references are made to something other than the purely creative imagination of the author. Yet because language is not the reality it is attempting to describe and understand, it can be true or false, accurate or inaccurate to the events and relationships discussed. Ultimately the readers must decide on the validity of the information and its relevance to their lives. Through reading we can learn about so many things that would be difficult or impossible to perceive directly through our senses, and in these dialogs between authors’ words and our own thoughts we can explore the interrelationships of various experiences in order to discover and synthesize the meaning of life. Of course this can be done without reading at all or even listening to anyone else, but these offer us more viewpoints and the distillation of others’ experiences in conceptual terms so that we can broaden our awareness beyond our own ego and personal observations. Literature is one of the main ways that humanity communicates with itself so that people can share their knowledge and ideas. Thus in the last five thousand years the human species has made extraordinary advances in consciousness and life-style by means of communication and education through language.
I believe drama is the most complete art form because it includes all the dimensions of space-time, language, visual art, may incorporate music and dance, and uses human beings as the primary instruments of expression in the wholeness of their bodies, voices, imagination, emotions, mind, and spirit. Drama attempts to recreate or portray these various aspects of life in a living experience before an audience of spectators. Since the electronic age of motion pictures, recording, radio, and television, drama may be captured by these media to be played or broadcast in other spaces and times. This reduces the aliveness of the performance but allows the art to be enjoyed by millions of people and posterity. Whereas reading is usually done alone, dramas are experienced most often by a group. Theater has always been a social and communal experience that can draw people together in this shared art, which may even be ritualized and religious. With television and radio individuals and small groups (usually families) watch and listen in their own homes at the same time as millions of others do. With recording machines, as with music, people can now watch and listen according to their own schedules. These new media of communication have improved and altered greatly our life-style.
Like fiction, drama usually tells a story that has been imaginatively created by the author. However, instead of merely relying on language and perhaps illustrations in a book, the story is presented and played out on a stage or set by actors and actresses in costumes and makeup or masks, often with music accompanying for mood, and occasionally in song and dance. Thus drama is a group art on the creative side as well, whereas literature and painting are usually created and edited or revised by one person at a time. Drama shares with music and dance the aspects of performance before an audience which include close cooperation and teamwork, though writing music or plays can be as solitary as literature and art.
Voice, facial expression, and gesture are subtle arts that actors add to literature. Acting, as the word implies, is the closest art to living action. The art removes the actual consequences from our lives, except that the make-believe experiences do affect the emotions, thoughts, imagination, physical habits, and personalities of those acting them. Thus people can vicariously (but more completely than with literature) experience many things they would not want to or could not actually do in real life. The spectators vicariously experience these through observation. However, the group experience can be contagious such that it is easier for a member of an audience to get caught up in the mental and emotional vibrations of the people around them. The art of acting can teach us so much about ourselves because to express anything well we must draw upon our own feelings, memories, imagination, thoughts, and personality traits. Acting can help us get in touch with many things that may be buried deep in our subconscious and even the subconscious of the human race. Inside each person is the prototype of all human characteristics, and good actors and actresses draw these forth from the universal reservoir within themselves.
The director is usually responsible for coordinating the action, the scene design, and the music. Many artists, musicians, and technicians work together to create a dramatic production, but the director must integrate all of the elements into an artistic whole.
Like literature, drama is essentially storytelling but by demonstration rather than mere recounting. Thus plot, character, theme, mood, and language are all important factors, but there is also the visual spectacle. In ancient Greece drama was divided into tragedy and comedy using masks with the corners of the mouth turned down or up. Since then the genres have become mixed with many variations such as farce, satire, tragicomedy, romantic comedy, melodrama, mystery, thriller, horror, musical, opera, history, biography, avant garde, etc. Usually the purpose of dramatic art is to entertain and enlighten at the same time. Tragedy holds our interest with its terror, suspense, deep probing of emotion while we learn about the consequences of actions and character traits. Comedy creates psychological tensions that are suddenly released by insights or perspectives that make us laugh. Through observation of folly we can become wiser without suffering the consequences.
The mass media of the electronic age have altered and extended drama to millions of people. The camera and microphone can go just about anywhere, and diverse scenes can be edited together. Thoughts and the movement of consciousness can be conveyed by voice over, point-of-view shots, or montages of images. Now that television is widespread and cable and satellite stations are proliferating, a greater variety of programs is developing to offer the millions of viewers a broader selection of drama as well as journalism and educational programs. However, unlike audience response in a theater, the communication is more one-way. Also massive audiences can give these new media tremendous influence on our society. As these media also communicate many things other than drama, let us turn now to discuss the art of communication in general.
If we consider the broader scope of consciousness and information theory, we can see that people communicate in many ways other than the formal arts. Yet in all communication there is an art to doing it well. Actually communication of information is the only way that conscious beings can interrelate. Our only experience is awareness, and our awareness tells us that we receive information from others via objects or vibrations in creation and that we communicate with others in the same way. This communication may be as crude as a violent physical assault and as subtle as a psychic intuition. Thus the question arises, “How can we improve the quality of our communication so as to increase our awareness and improve the quality of our lives?”
First of all, we may realize that we are divine, intelligent, loving beings who are one in essence with all other beings. That is why we are aware and how we are able to communicate at all. In the freedom of consciousness is choice and creativity. This freedom of choice is also based on some awareness of duality. When we choose one thing, we reject something else. Thus choice implies values and the relativity of good and bad. As explained in the first chapter, our true essence is the positive, divine principles, but our experience in creation also involves their relative opposites. We choose what we think is good for us while rejecting what we think is bad; we select beauty and disregard ugliness. In communication that is conceptual in reference, such as language, those concepts may be true or false in relation to the experience to which they refer. Thus in this type of symbolic communication we choose honesty or dishonesty.
However, the direct aspects of communication are simply what they are, though interpretations of what they mean may vary. A handshake or a punch in the nose communicates directly and is not true or false, except perhaps according to someone’s idea of what that is supposed to mean. Thus all communication has its direct aspect and its symbolic aspect. The direct aspect of speech, for example, is that one person is saying certain words in a specific tone of voice, etc. The direct aspect of communication is always a fact as an event in space-time while the symbolic aspect is always a theory as a meaning our consciousness gives to an experience. This distinction can help us to clarify the difference between what happened and what we think it means when we are analyzing experience or communicating about it. Theories and evaluations vary from person to person according to subjective factors, but the facts of events are an objective ground that can be universal reference points. Even though we may not agree on the meaning of events, at least we can try to agree on what the facts are, though often this is difficult because of lack of evidence. Also when discussing meanings, theories, evaluations, and beliefs, we can realize that everyone is free to interpret life according to the values they choose. Thus communication is this mixture of a direct experience and symbolic meanings, some of which may refer to facts conceptually and some of which is interpretive opinion.
Our actions and our sensory receptions are the means of sending and receiving direct communication. What we do creates the facts of our direct expression and in a sense defines us existentially as a person in the world. What we perceive gives us our awareness of the events we experience in the world. Inside our consciousness are many concepts, ideas, theories, values, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, fantasies, selective memories, associations, etc. Obviously these color and shape our comprehension of our perceptions and the actions we choose to make as well as the symbolic content of our expressions.
In this sense our every action communicates directly with other people in the world whether it be how we walk or drive or talk or gesture or buy or touch or make something. Violence is a form of communication which is likely to be experienced and interpreted differently by the violator and the victim according to their motivations and states of consciousness. Governments and criminals often try to communicate their will in this brutal way; the actions of deploying or carrying weapons convey an implied threat. At the other extreme affection is primarily communicated through touch by hugging, kissing, caressing, etc. Much subtlety can even be expressed directly through the eyes as well as in other facial expressions. Crying, laughing, shouting, tickling are all forms of direct communication.
Most direct communication in economics and business occurs through the sellers’ products and prices and the buyers’ purchases. Regardless of what people’s attitudes may be, these events are the facts of commerce. Governments also communicate by means of their laws, requirements, enforcement by arrests, judicial sentences, and their punishments. Various social groups use awards and sanctions to express their values and attempt to influence behavior. Citizens communicate with their votes and compliance or non-compliance with rules and regulations. The most direct communication is participation in an activity.
In the communication arts the greatest part of the direct aspect is the nature of the medium itself, as Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” Yet it may be more accurate to say, “The medium is the messenger” because most people find that the symbolic content of the message is still the most important part in the communications field. McLuhan’s insight is valuable though because many people tend to ignore the direct aspect of the communication. Television renders the recipients of the communication passive, because the sounds and sights are provided and circumscribed as well as one-way. The communicators are not available to receive a response from the viewers except in the strict limits of a call-in program. Radio, movies, recordings, books, periodicals, and museum art are similar in this respect, resulting in a commercial relationship. The extreme opposite of these is the art of conversation, which is free, open, and continually interacting.
The media communicate in many ways other than by dramas through journalistic news reports, programs that are analogous to non-fiction in literature, discussions, interviews, and observations of actual events, as in sports or debates. Thus more people are now getting much of their information about the world from the electronic media. Unfortunately the means of paying for these services has been a proliferation of advertising, though now one can pay directly for the communications product with money. Nonetheless many viewers and listeners may suffer the barrages of commercial messages on most television and radio stations. I believe that the social and psychological effects of commercial advertising are “consciousness pollution” that may be harmful to our well-being and happiness. Why should people be subjected to these unwanted messages of psychological manipulation? Alternative methods of paying for entertainment and educational programs are available. Some stations depend on voluntary contributions. Some charge a fee to receive the cable connection or unscrambled reception. Many nations support programs with public funds.
Muting devices have been available for decades, and now recording machines enable people to program recordings and watch them later, allowing them to fast forward through commercial breaks. Yet the frequent interruptions fragment people’s experiences. Stations then compete fiercely to keep their viewers, and much time is wasted telling them what is coming up. Apparently people’s buying patterns are greatly influenced by advertising, or businesses would not spend so much money and energy on these commercials. This intense competition uses every psychological device they can find to try to manipulate people’s consciousness so that they will buy certain products. The result is a bizarre combination of pseudo-entertainment on behalf of a commercial product and black magic to try to control behavior. Networks depending on this means of financing must compete to achieve the largest audience they can and usually end up with programming that appeals to the lowest common denominators of interest and excitement, often sexual titillation and violence. Also I believe that the less aware people are more swayed by advertisements; thus advertisers may prefer programs that appeal to these people, further lowering the quality.
I believe we can find more intelligent ways to finance communication systems so that we can purify them of this commercial garbage. I grant that businesses want people to be aware of their products, and we need to find ways to make this information available to consumers that are fair to all the competing businesses. Computers and the internet provide the answer by giving people access to any information they need to make intelligent purchasing decisions. We are better off buying a product because it has what we need and want rather than because some star personality recommends it. Periodicals and websites can also list events as well as other products of interest to us. Meanwhile intelligent people can avoid commercial programming and educate our society as to the values of commercial-free art, education, and communication. As we learn to eliminate the harms and dangers of pollution, military activity, and commercial bombardment, we will increasingly support and promote with public funds education and the arts; for by making these easily and purely available to everyone the quality of our social life improves.
Regardless of the medium then, what makes for good communication? First let us look at the sender and then the receiver. Good communicators are honest, aware of what they want to express, concerned about the recipients and sensitive to their needs, convey the message with clarity, use humor and emotions to enrich and enliven the experience, and are open to receiving responses. Honesty is not just adhering to the literal truth but presents information in a fair and comprehensive way. Communication can be greatly distorted by leaving out clarifying facts and by making statements that mislead even though they may be literally correct. For example, a government official may say, “We have no plans for that at this time,” knowing full well that they have contingency plans which they are just not putting into operation “at this time.” Some statements may be literally incorrect, but everyone is aware that the expression is either metaphorical or humorous. For example, a committee is deciding what award to give a person for her outstanding contributions, and one member says, “We could fire her.” If taken literally, this is an awful statement; but in the context it communicates several things through humor. It releases tension in their efforts through laughter; it implies that her gifts are beyond reward; and it acknowledges subconscious envy and resentment toward her abilities by the members of the committee. Generally honesty comes from sincerity, openness, and integrity. Dishonest communicators lose credibility when their lies and distortions are discovered. Yet if they present the appearance of sincerity, they may fool people in different situations for a long time. In human relations dishonesty is destructive of understanding and eventually of trust also.
Greater knowledge obviously enhances the potential of what can be communicated, and thus we see the close relationship between the quality of education and communication. Yet it is sensitivity toward the recipient that gives us the awareness to know what and how to communicate in such a way that the maximum understanding can be attained. Also the style of expression plays a large part in keeping their interest so that they will be motivated to be receptive.
Receiving communication well is the art of being a good listener and observer by paying attention, being interested, clarifying the messages, and asking questions or making helpful responses so that the communicator knows how well the messages are getting through. This is called “active listening” and is easily developed with a little practice. The idea is to care about the communicators and what their messages are. If we decide in our freedom that we are not interested, then we can communicate that clearly in one way or another. Many problems in human relationships are the result of a breakdown or failure in communication because of a reluctance to be honest and open or because of psychological blocks which distort our expression and perception, often through projection. Our concept of the other person colors the message, but it may be our own concept or emotional bias that is doing the distorting and preventing clear and unprejudiced understanding. We need to understand before we evaluate.
Communication is the communion that makes our oneness with each other practical. Our spirits are one in the divine Spirit and therefore able to understand each other; but if we do not communicate and share our consciousness, then our thoughts and feelings seem separate and are isolated. Thus communication is essential to love, harmony, wisdom, world unity, and to experiencing life as a whole.
LIFE AS A WHOLE:
II. The Individual