Tag Archives: language

Music….A Fuel That Feeds Our Spiritual Engines


Most cultures in our world embrace some form of what we have come to call “music”. Some much more than others. Some cultures use music only in religious moments. Some extremely primitive cultures (by Western standards) haven’t even defined music yet. That is, they don’t call it music, but they still create and use some sounds as music nonetheless.

It could be easily argued that music in all its forms is the true universal language that ties the spirit of all living creatures together. Man, of course is God’s primary creature that consciously uses music to communicate his feelings, emotions and needs often without a single word being uttered or sung. But we’re not the only ones… (think about birds singing).

How can it be then, that music, used by billions of people every moment of every day, is not recognized as essential in its purpose?  Ahhhh… the failings of mankind are pervasive. Still, it’s notable that our scientific community has recently discovered what most of us in the music community already knew:

Music affects ALL living creatures (a multitude of studies, anecdotal and scientific, suggest plant-life may also be positively and negatively impacted) such that it influences moods, sensations, emotions, physical growth, physical healings and emotional healings that can be quantified in bonafide studies. I like to say that music does all this and more by ‘speaking’ to us in a way that ALL people of ALL tribes innately grasp…. in a way that our ‘inner spirits’ always understand:  the “language of music”.

The “language of music” is so powerful that it can move our spirits in ways we never really thought about: Continue reading

Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren’t Translatable Into English

Elephant-Heart-726472These are words that in other languages describe the subtle realities of love, desire and relationship… but seem to have no direct English translation. Compiled by Pamela Haag at BigThink:

1. Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.

Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.

2. Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.

3. Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.

4. Retrouvailles (French):  The happiness of meeting again after a long time. This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.

5. Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.

Apparently, in 2004, this word won the award as the world’s most difficult to translate. Although at first, I thought it did have a clear phrase equivalent in English: It’s the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. But ilunga conveys a subtler concept, because the feelings are different with each “strike.” The word elegantly conveys the progression toward intolerance, and the different shades of emotion that we feel at each stop along the way. Ilunga captures what I’ve described as the shade of gray complexity in marriages—Not abusive marriages, but marriages that involve infidelity, for example.  We’ve got tolerance, within reason, and we’ve got gradations of tolerance, and for different reasons. And then, we have our limit. The English language to describe this state of limits and tolerance flattens out the complexity into black and white, or binary code. You put up with it, or you don’t.  You “stick it out,” or not.

Ilunga restores the gray scale, where many of us at least occasionally find ourselves in relationships, trying to love imperfect people who’ve failed us and whom we ourselves have failed.

6. La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

When I came across this word I thought of “unrequited” love. It’s not quite the same, though. “Unrequited love” describes a relationship state, but not a state of mind. Unrequited love encompasses the lover who isn’t reciprocating, as well as the lover who desires. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated.

7. Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.

This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.

Read the rest over at Big Think

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

Originally posted in February 2012

photo by: ildalina

Why learning a foreign language should be mandatory in schools

According to the New York Times, a new research suggests that becoming fluent in another language has benefits far beyond just expanding your worldview. In fact, bilingual people may actually be more intelligent than monolinguals because of the language training.

Here’s the scoop:

Bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.

The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompea Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

Read more at The New York Times.

photo by: amanky

Idle Chatter? No Such Thing

Idle Chatter?
No such thing! The words we say to others and to ourselves can sometimes stick like glue. Perhaps we need to be more careful as we talk to others and ourselves. Words thrown out carelessly can sometimes change a relationship. 
Years ago, I said something to a woman whom I considered to be my mentor. I did not mean any harm by what I said, but she misunderstood me and was not willing to discuss the matter with me. She simply dropped me and I was out of her life forever. Now I must admit, that as I learned more from others about what was going on in her life, she was dropping many people, and perhaps the words of mine that she misunderstood, simply gave her an opportunity to pick a fight and end the relationship. However, that experience taught me a huge lesson, and I have been careful in my words to others ever since then.
Words are just as powerful when we use them about ourselves, to ourselves. For instance, when I am not feeling well, if I tell myself I am feeling sick, I feel sicker. If I tell myself I am feeling better every minute, I feel better faster. Now of course there are times when it is better I tell myself that I am truly sick so that I will be motivated to rest and take care of myself. But more of the time, if I am not feeling well, the symptoms are minor, and it is better to tell myself how good I feel.
The words we use make a huge difference in our relationships with others and with ourselves.
Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne

No Resolutions EVER!

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  I read this as a tweet from Queen Mama Donna Henes. And it made me laugh.

Truth to tell, I don’t make new year’s resolutions, haven’t for years. I quit when I realized I’d made the same ones for almost ten years.

Then I got to thinking about resolutions. Look at the word: re-solutions, meaning solving again. The thing about resolutions is that their repetitious by nature. Resolutions are all about solving things again. That’s not how I want to create my life.

Same with goals, dear one. I don’t really do goals, and I read a wonderful blog the other day (which I can’t find now—sorry!) about someone who really doesn’t like to make goals or even to-do lists. They torment her.

She does, however, have a friend who is a goal freak. The goal freak has a very specific definition for goals. She says, “It’s not a goal unless it’s totally in your control.”

Wow. Now that’s a thought that makes goal-setting appreciably more interesting to me.

Like this:

Get an agent … is not a goal.

Send out query letters to get an agent … is a goal.

See the difference?

The moment something about a goal is out of my control, it’s no longer a goal. What a relief, and no wonder I quit dealing with goals.

Have a look at your resolutions from less than 2 weeks ago? Are they resolutions? If so, you have already solved them once and you can solve them again. Or are they goals? If they’re totally in your control, you’re good to go. If not, look again.



For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?


Speak Easy: The Simplest Languages to Learn

Many people have always wanted to learn a second language. Even though most of us have slogged our way through a few years of high school language classes, comparatively few are fluent in a language other than English, as opposed to countries in Europe where learning a second, third, or even fourth language is de rigueur. Speaking another language can be useful when traveling, it can enrich our cultural experience, and it can be fun to discover the quirks and peculiarities of another language. 

But which language to choose? Many languages are useful for one reason or another, but regardless of the lyric beauty of Italian or utility of Mandarin, for most people, it comes down to what is the easiest to learn. Few people have time to take intensive language immersion courses, so we want to feel like we’re progressing quickly. No one likes endless staged classroom conversations about the weather—we want to be able to navigate a foreign city or read a newspaper as quickly as possible. There are almost 7,000 living languages in the world … so where to start? 

It’s All Relative
Many language experts recommend that when choosing a second language to study, it’s important to consider other languages’ relation to your own. Languages based on entirely different grammar systems, or those that use another alphabet are definitely going to be more difficult to learn. For English speakers, learning to speak Russian would require learning the Cyrillic alphabet, and learning Hindi would require learning to read and write in Devanagari, besides learning the grammar and vocabulary. 

Languages that use the Latin alphabet and are more closely related to English are a better bet. English is on the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, meaning that its closest living relatives are languages like German and Dutch. German syntax (sentence structure) is more regular than English’s, although it can be frustrating to learn to put verbs at the end of the sentence. Also, once a speaker learns the basic German phonemes (sounds made by each letter), the language is pronounced exactly as written—no silent letters or special pronunciation rules. Both languages use compound words and extensive prefixes and suffixes, making learning the vocabulary easy. Another bonus is that much of English vocabulary already comes from German, so the words easily relate to one another. It’s not hard to remember that haus = house and wilkommen = welcome.

Is Romance Effortless?
German vocabulary may be easy to grasp, but other languages are set up in ways that are slightly more similar to English, even if they’re further apart on the linguistic tree. Languages like Spanish, French, and Italian all have syntax that is very easy to understand, and when selecting a second language, most people choose one of the Romance languages (the languages that descend from Latin). Of these, Spanish is generally accepted to be the easiest to learn. One big hurdle for English speakers is learning that in other languages, verbs take many different forms, but once you learn how to conjugate the verbs based on tense and speaker, Spanish grammar is highly regular and logical. The spelling and pronunciation are also extremely easy—no silent letters, and each word is spoken exactly as written. 

French and Italian may be closely related to Spanish, but these languages both have features that make them more difficult. French pronunciation and spelling are highly irregular, and contain many phonemes that are difficult to master. In fact, French is conserved by a national body that decides how the language will be written and spoken, and a single sound can be spelled multiple ways. Italian has its own share of frustrating intonations, and if the speaker can’t master the correct sound of each word, the meaning is totally lost. The good news is that Romance languages have a similar vocabulary—the Spanish, Italian, and French words for “cow” are vaca, vacca, and vache—so once you speak one of these languages, picking up another can be a breeze. 

Use It or Lose It
Anyone can sign up for a language class or listen to Rosetta Stone tapes, but the bulk of language-learning is done in the real world. Doing conjugation exercises in a workbook can only take you part of the way, so when choosing a language, it’s important to choose one that you can practice regularly. In this respect, Spanish is a good choice, since it’s spoken by so many people in the United States and abroad. It’s easy to find strangers to converse with, which will expose your ear to different accents and dialects, and it will force you to broaden your vocabulary. Other languages leave fewer opportunities for regular practice, but anywhere in America, it’s possible to tune in to Spanish television and radio, find Spanish-language newspapers, or see Spanish signs to translate. Using the language regularly is the most important part of learning, and no language is more ubiquitous in our culture today than Spanish is.

Ultimately, being able to learn a second language depends on your relationship with English, which isn’t exactly known for being an easy language to learn. Although English has some easy characteristics, such as non-conjugated verbs, it has a vocabulary that surpasses most other languages of the world, and it is full of irregularities. It can be hard even to learn the simplest foreign language if your grasp of English isn’t complete. Also, more important than ease is how you’re going to use a language. Spanish is incredibly helpful in the Western Hemisphere, but if you desire to learn about classical music or philosophy, German is more important. If your future plans include traveling through Europe or Africa, French is a more important lingua franca. Most of all, regardless of other considerations, the easiest language is the one that you’re anxious to learn. If your lifelong goal has been to speak Polish and visit your ancestors’ homeland, you’ll find it an easy task, even if experts deem it the most difficult language in the world. The experts also have something else to say … the second language may be difficult, but the second one makes the third one even easier. 

By Allison Ford for DivineCaroline.com

Acquiring Silence: Going Deaf With No Regrets or Self-Pity

Laura Hope-Gill is the Executive Director of The Asheville Wordfest Media Outreach Project. In the fall 2008 Parabola, she had an article called “Digital Silence.” Much of the article was about her slow process of going deaf—without self-pity or regret.

“My sign language teacher, Shiner, said it this way: ‘You’re not going deaf. You’re acquiring silence.’ By the time I heard her say that, I understood. Learning sign language has been the beautiful thing. The cup remains empty but language still fills it. Only language. No words.”

Acquiring silence. I think sometimes if we could put it in Campbell’s Soup cans, silence would fly off the shelves. We are desperate for it much of the time.

I love the distinction Hope-Gill makes about having language, but no words. Think of the times you’ve sat in silence with someone you love—a parent, a child, a friend, a lover. Isn’t there language—even with no words?

I suggest you consider acquiring silence for a portion of your week, an hour or so. If you include someone you love, you’ll wallow in language with no words, and bask in the new and refreshing silence.

Be joy,


Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso


Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.

Check out the Seeds Archive

for past messages of inspiration.



For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?


Transparence of Suchness

Coat a stick with red paint and look at it. What are you seeing, a red stick? Not really: the actual stick disappeared under a coat of red paint. You are looking at a particular distribution of red paint in space, not at the stick. Sure, you know that the stick is still there. But the stick itself is no longer visible. So, when you think you are seeing a stick, you are actually looking at your own thought of the stick. Words are just like paints. Once we label a given something, we stop seeing that something and begin seeing our description of it. Meditate on how this relates to you.  Meditate on what of what you are has disappeared under the paint of your self-descriptions.

copyright, 2009

What We Can Learn By Not Speaking The Language

People who have the industry and intelligence to learn to speak and understand languages other than their own are to be admired and emulated. Their lives and those whose languages they speak are enriched for it.


I am not one of those people, and I’m not proud of that fact, but I have recognized a real pleasure in sometimes having no idea what people are saying. I have discovered a special relaxation, uninterrupted by specific meaning, just being with people in cafes and other public meeting areas. I am able to listen to their languages and delight in the sounds without being distracted by trying to decipher nuance of meaning, judgment of worth of their conversation or agreeing or disagreeing with their opinions.

Listening and watching people without understanding what they are saying is like listening and watching other animals. I can read about bird song and what it communicates to other birds, but to my ears it just sounds wonderfully musical. Taking time to listen to bird song is very pleasant and nourishing, and I suspect it would be less so if we knew what every song was declaring. Just being in nature without deciphering meaning is balm for the soul. And I do include human nature in "nature."

Perhaps our too familiar discomfort with other same-language humans arises from the illusion that we really do speak the same language. We don’t. We can refer to authorities for definitions of commonly used words, but our inner authority is finally in charge when determining how we choose to interpret others’ words. And that often gets us frustrated, misunderstood, unseen, and speaking louder as a way to get through the fog of mis- interpretation.

Does this happen to other animals? Probably. Maybe that’s why birds spend so much of their time singing. But since we aren’t involved in the bird’s attempt to make itself understood, we can just enjoy the sound.

We can occasionally just enjoy the sound with each other too. And we can even do it when we share a common language. The trick is not to assume that you actually know what the others are saying. You can step back from the meaning. There is a bigger perspective available when you aren’t determined to know exactly what someone is saying or have them know what exactly what you are saying. It is possible to experience each other from the heart center rather than the language center.

Language is one of the most thrilling powers of being human. It is day-to-day practical as well as exultant in its heights. We can all benefit from learning and discovering how to use language more clearly. As fellow human beings, it is intelligent to learn each other’s language. It brings us closer together as cultures and as individuals. And it is likewise intelligent to realize that we often use the same words with utterly different personal meanings. Couples learn this as they get through misunderstandings, business colleagues benefit when they take the time to clarify each other’s meanings. Nations are more likely to meet in some degree of harmony if they respect the different weights of power each holds in the same words.

Yet there is another, sweeter power available to us all, regardless of how many words we know. It starts in the heart and is effortlessly spoken through the eyes. It is what is here when no word will do. Simply, in an instant, we can freshly discover our capacity to understand with this wordless communication. And in that understanding, we meet what is best in us all, wherever we find ourselves, whatever we think we know or don’t know.

Sometimes, just for perspective, take a break and hear the music.

Gangaji will hold her next public meeting in Ashland, Oregon, August 23rd. She will be in Boston for a public meeting September 12th and Woodstock, for a public meeting September 14. She will hold a seven day retreat in Garrison, NY beginning September 16th. Read more about Gangaji’sevents and catalog of books and videos online.


Finding The Language Of Art

 I am beginning a new voyage into unknown territory – the worldly dimension of Art. When I was young I drew, painted, and loved making art but then I stopped, pursuing Words instead. Thinking and reason became my tools of worldly investigation, science the field of my attention. But last night I saw the language of Art and it is enticing me to enter a new doorway.

Over dinner with some A-list art scholars (an art museum director, a curator, and an art consultant), I really saw for the first time how art is a doorway of self-discovery and what lies in its wake.

I’m a late bloomer to the art world. In college when most students are exposed to this Truth in Humanities or Art History classes, I opted out for Feminist Studies instead (it was the early 70s). I missed the tour through the minds of artists across the ages, not learning words such as post-modernism, cubism, or names like DeKooning, Leger, etc.

Today, I still don’t have the labels or memory stores of Who’s Who in the Art world or its history, but I suddenly ‘get it’, the why and what is Art passion, Art addiction, and Art collecting alike.

Art is a means of self-discovery, a quiet, non-verbal expression of mind – one’s own attempt to share a glimpse of the vast and infinite Beauty (or Truth) through visual expression, beyond words.

All the facades of pretense I associated with Art Collectors, Art Scholars, and Art Intellectuals are stripped away when a piece of Art truly speaks.

It juts beyond all words.

Finding such a piece of art – one speaking of Truth clearly – must be like wading through a vast body of moving water to find a single lily pad delicately balanced in stillness. I don’t know exactly, right now it is just a feeling, I’ve never before taken this road. But for the first time last night I see an uncharted land lies ahead of me – a world of Art and Artists attempting to convey this Truth through a language I am just beginning to learn.

I feel as though I was handed a flashlight in a dark room and beckoned to begin to explore.

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