Sanskrit, a Sacred Model of Language

by Vyaas Houston, M.A.

What makes a language sacred is how we use it. If a language is used to discover the sacredness of life, it becomes a sacred language. Whether or not a language is sacred is determined by who is using it. This in turn has a great deal to do with whether a language is being used consciously or unconsciously, whether we use language as an instrument to accomplish our real purpose in life, that is, wake up and find out who we are; or we are unconsciously programmed by language, to maintain patterns of a struggle for individual survival established by previous generations.

Most of us, most of the time, tend to be at the effect of the unconscious operation of language. To make the point, let me describe a language exercise that I have done with thousands people to date. I ask a group of people to listen to some very simple Sanskrit sounds, sung in a rhythmic sequence, and then individually duplicate the sounds, based upon what they heard. I also make it clear that this is not an exercise in which it's important to get it right, and should anyone not remember a part of the sequence, he / she should simply make something up — fill in the blank. I also suggest that everyone should just have fun doing the exercise, and stay with the rhythm. Once we've been through several rounds, I ask everyone to describe what they were thinking, while doing the exercise, which was other than just simply listening and duplicating or making up sounds. Although I have done this exercise more than a hundred different times, in many different locations, I have always found the results to be practically identical. We are so completely consumed by the idea of "getting it right" and the approaching moment of "my turn" that there is little space left to actually listen and enjoy the sounds. This overriding preoccupation with getting it right is accompanied by an endless barrage of strategies, evaluations, comparisons, judgements, expectations, hopes, rationalizations and fears of consequences. By writing down this list of what everyone was thinking, the unconscious operation of language becomes visible. Most people are not aware they are thinking all this until they see the language of it written on a flip chart.

But this is just peeling away the first layer. There's a still deeper layer of the unconscious operation of language where we have predefined who we are, based on whether or not we get it right. This can be seen by making a list of the apparent implications and consequences of getting it right and getting it wrong...