To Understand without Knowing

Art by Jonliza Velox

Art by Jonliza Velox

Ken-tor rik’faiyan. The phrase comes from Dahr-Krus, or Part Two, of Surak’s Analects. In it, Surak considers the subject of epistemology, or how we know what we know. He wrestles through the systems of knowledge prominent on Vulcan in his day, including: 1) empiricism – the insistence that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience; 2) rationalism – the doctrine that knowledge (and ultimately, truth) must be tested by intellect and deductive reasoning ; 3) the scientific method – the rigorous discipline which combines and utilizes both empiricism and rationalism in the pursuit of knowledge and truth; and authoritarianism – the acceptance of knowledge and the truth of ideas asserted by an unquestionable authority.

He concludes that all these systems have their place in the daily quest for knowledge but that none are satisfactory for developing understanding. “Wide experience increases wisdom,” he said, “but to know the ultimate truth, we must transcend knowledge.” It was this assertion that won him favor with the priests of the Suta Temple in Shi’Kahr, and it was there on the ancient steps that he first began to teach a new philosophy to a wide audience. Before the Awakening, Vulcan monasteries were institutions of peace, as they remain today, but they were closed to all but the initiated. Before Surak, holy men and women practiced isolationism, removing themselves from the violence of the day behind thick walls. They had little hope the average Vulcan could live in peace, but when Surak began to advocate the strict control of emotions, the priests of the Suta Temple thought he was onto something.

Since that time, Vulcan philosophers, priests, linguists, scientists, and educators continued to debate what the phrase “to understand without knowing” means. One renowned voice in the debate was Professor Aravik who taught music and psychology at the Vulcan Science Academy. He was particularly interested in how the brain processes, stores, and retrieves information. He recognized that the unconsciousness stored a vast amount of information that was more readily retrieved when paired with a musical phrase, which acted as a trigger. Working with psychologists and musicians at the VSA, he developed a musical style call tumaun-ralash-tanaf, or “programming music.”  The technique involves creating a meaningful word-phrase that embodies a concept, construct, lesson, method, or any subject matter the student wishes to master. The word-phrase is then paired with a simple but memorable musical phrase, which is repeated at predetermined intervals in the learning process. Dr. Aravik discovered that his subjects – students who were required to master vast sequences of equations or to recall lengthy passages of scientific theorem or legal doctrine – improved their recall ability on exams by 96.78% when the material was paired with tumaun-ralash-tanaf. The musical phrase alone (without what he termed the “word-crutch”) became for the student a key that unlocked the unconscious mind where a large amount of the memorized information was stored. “Music,” he wrote in one of his reports, “enters the brains at a deeper level than language. Music acts as a trigger for our deepest memories and can access that part of the brain where information once thought to be irretrievable by normal methods of recall is easily, quickly, and precisely brought into the conscious mind.” (Aravik, 2423, p. 16)

Modern Vulcan education employs tumaun-ralash-tanaf at all levels, from the primary learning pods through the doctoral dissertation. To this day, the Vulcan ability of extraordinary recall continues to amaze non-Vulcans throughout the galaxy. Many species have requested the use of the technique for their own educational programs. Vulcan scientists, however, are reluctant to share the procedure since the Vulcan mind does not exhibit the same structure as the brains of similar humanoid species. Even other Vulcanoids, such as Romulans, have a remarkably different brain structure from modern Vulcans. The teachings of Surak and the discipline adhered to for the last two millennia are partly responsible for the development of the modern Vulcan mind.

The following is a sample of tumaun-ralash-tanaf in a song composed and sung by T’Prion. The phrase ken-tor rik’faiyan, “to understand without knowing,” is used by followers of Surak, often with the guidance of a priestess or other instructor, to reach a deeper level of consciousness in meditation and to commit Surak’s teachings to memory.

Ken-tor rik’faiyan video

Here are the lyrics in Modern Golic Vulcan and in Federation Standard English:

Ken-tor rik’faiyan lyrics  (Art by Jonliza Velox)

SOURCES

Aravik & Sern. (2422). Learning and the control of behavior: principles, theories, and application of operant conditioning. Shi’Kahr: Vulcan Science Academy Press.

Aravik. (2423). Learning in a new key: a study in the application of music and its effect on cognitive processing and recall. Journal of Vulcan Cognition, 45(2), 12-36.

To read a selection of Aravik’s work, click on this link:

http://korsaya.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Tumaun-ralash-tanaf.pdf

Join the Forum at Korsaya.org to discuss this work and many other topics regarding Vulcan culture and language.

 

 

You and I Have Learned

The death of beloved actor Leonard Nimoy did not come as a

Photo by T'Prion

Photo by T’Prion

shock. He was, after all, a man of advanced age and ill health. It was a logical end of a life thoroughly lived, enjoyed, and shared – a life of creativity, reflection, and learning. These virtues were devoted to developing the Vulcan character the world came to love and the culture he represented – both material and moral.

As an actor, poet, and photographer, Nimoy shared much of himself with the world – and never more so than within his portrayal of Spock, the archetype by which all other Vulcan characters have been measured since. He was the first and the last – the end and the beginning.

Although the melding of actor and character was uncomfortable at times for Nimoy, he expressed sincere gratitude for his involvement with the Vulcan. “Because of him, I’ve had a number of wonderful opportunities. And I’d like to think that, just as his Vulcan logic has had a tempering effect on me, my emotional human personality has rubbed off on him a bit. I know we’ve both matured and mellowed a great deal over these three decades.” Nimoy went on in his autobiography to tell Spock, “We’re both very lucky — lucky to have had each other.” Instead of expounding on the nature of luck versus statistics, Spock softly agrees, “Yes, I suppose we have.”1

For Vulcans, whose greatest love is learning and the accompanying growth of intellect and spirit, life is one big classroom. At the end of a life well-lived, a Vulcan should be able to look back and reflect upon all that has been learned. Nimoy did this simply and succinctly in one of his poems called You and I Have Learned, originally published in 19812 and shared again with the world on Twitter3 five days before his death. He wanted to remind us of the important gift we all possess – a gift he shared with the world through Spock – a gift he wanted to remind each of us to share.

To that end, we offer here You and I Have Learned translated into Modern Golic Vulcan in a video tribute to the honored Mr. Nimoy. Light with him always…and with us.4

http://youtu.be/eWwBeTRalqk

 

SOURCES

1Nimoy, L. (1995). I am Spock. New York: Hyperion, p. 11.

2Nimoy, L. (1981). These Words are for You. Boulder, CO: Blue Mountain Press.

3Nimoy, L. (2015, February 22). You and I Have Learned [Twitter]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TheRealNimoy

4Sarek offered this blessing to T’Pau on the scattering of her ashes. Duane, D. (1988). Spock’s World. New York: Pocket Books, p. 296.

Now We Shape the Wind

With the recovery of the Kir’Shara, containing the original teachingsT'Prion
of Surak, and the destruction of the Vulcan homeworld (T’Khasi), much study has been devoted recently to pre-Reform civilization – the Vulcan that existed before Surakian philosophy and discipline were widely accepted. The purpose of this intense study by surviving scholars serves not only to assist in the restoration of Vulcan society but also to provide assurance that it will continue into the future. It was not long ago that the biological and cultural connection between Vulcans and Romulans was kept secret – a secret that was nearly lost. During the time of the Sundering, those who rejected Surak left T’Khasi to found a homeworld on a distant planet. They continued on as pre-Reform Vulcans and developed a new civilization in which emotions went unchecked.

Now Vulcans are once again faced with rebuilding, restructuring, and preserving their society. By studying Vulcan’s past, her people will not be doomed to repeat its violence.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this project is the ancient wisdom that comes to light. As archival networks, databases, and primary source documents are recovered, examined, and restored, many facets of former Vulcan life – most unfamiliar to the modern Vulcan – are made available again for public analysis and consideration. Files and manuscripts that have long been forgotten or even lost are now coming again to the forefront.

One study currently under investigation is the music – passed down from generation to generation in a wholly oral fashion – preserved through Vulcan’s monastic tradition. The College of Historical Studies of the Vulcan Science Academy has contracted with singer/songwriter T’Prion, to study a cache of newly discovered journals and documents, and to compose new material encompassing sacred traditions.

To hear the first of these compositions, click on this link:

http://youtu.be/DqGrsQuuS5E

Lyrics in both Vuhlkansu and Federation Standard English are provided here:

Lyrics in Vulcan                                     Lyrics in English

The song I’kushizhau etek salan (Now We Shape the Wind), composed and sung by T’Prion, is based on three distinct musical traditions. The oldest, zhit-ralash-tanaf (word-music) is a spontaneous style performed only by priestesses, who received their inspiration from sacred texts. Here, T’Prion focused on the text of Part One of Surak’s First Analects. The words convey the struggle for survival in Vulcan’s harsh climate, the endless battles for precious resources and wars that nearly destroyed the planet, and the philosophy that saved it. I’kushizhau etek salan encapsulates the evolution of the Vulcan species.

The song also builds upon the tradition of shean-ralash (rising-sound). The key of each succeeding stanza is raised by a step or half-step, gradually elevating the song to the heavens.

The third musical tradition T’Prion studied for this composition is uralal-varlar (sung-stories), a type of narrative singing used for epic poems and heroic tales. Each of these traditions can be explored more fully in the writings of T’Prion. As the documents and translations become available, links will be provided here. Read the original Modern Golic Vulcan transcriptions of these writings and join the discussion:

http://korsaya.org/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=62.0

The images in the video accompanying I’kushizhau etek salan are ancient holo-images of Raalan life, dating to the Second Dynasty, restored here in two-dimensional format. The chimes heard at the end are believed to from the T’Shen Monastery.

What Does a Vulcan Listen To?

In the Earth year 1957, a Vulcan research vessel went down in CarbonMoodies Dead Can Dance Creek, Pennsylvania, with four crewmen aboard. Although the captain perished, officers Stron and T’Mir were later recovered without incident, but the fourth crewman was inadvertently left behind, believed by the Vulcan authorities to have also perished and his body adequately buried or incinerated.1 But this Vulcan male, anthropologist and navigator Mestral, managed to live on Earth for over a century before he was detected. He was promptly recovered after First Contact.

On April 5, 2063, the crew of the T’Plana-Hath not only detected Zefram Cochrane’s warp-drive signature but also Mestral’s life-signs and were directed to make contact with humanity and to retrieve Mestral. He was brought back to Vulcan for debriefing before the High Command, which was not only curious about his first-hand experience living among humans, but was also anxious to learn how much human behavior had polluted Mestral’s Vulcan bearing. At that time, many in the High Command had little hope for humanity and viewed humans with contempt.

The transcripts of the interviews with Mestral have just been declassified. Below is a segment covering a topic many humans find fascinating: what do Vulcans listen to? Or, more precisely, what human music does a Vulcan living on Earth in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century, far removed from the culture of his homeworld, find acceptable and even…pleasing? This segment of the interrogation was conducted by Minister Sepek, who not only taught at the Vulcan Science Academy as Professor of Xenopsychology, but also served as Secretary for Offworld Affairs.

Sepek: Forty billion terabytes of data classified as music have been recovered from your personal devices. This unprecedented amount suggests that you spent considerable time listening to Terran music.

Mestral: That is a correct assumption.

Sepek: Do you find it…enjoyable?

Mestral: Yes.

Sepek: We selected for review two songs at random from the collection labeled “Popular Music.” They are titled Wild Thing and Disco Duck. We found no reason to preserve this category of Terran music in the Vulcan Archives. And yet you have collected 4,256,172 songs, including songs which predate your arrival on Earth. Enlighten us.

Mestral: I might point out, Ministers, that your sample size – given the extent of the collection – was inadequate and therefore your summation inconclusive. Terran popular music is highly varied in its presentation.

Sepek: Be that as it may….

Mestral: If you will allow me to present some further samples, I can demonstrate to you the high degree of skill and, in some cases, “Vulcanness” in popular Terran music.

[A brief discussion ensues among the High Command. The consensus is to allow Mestral to continue with his presentation. Links to the popular Youtube site containing the selected songs are embedded in this transcript.]

Sepek: Continue.

Mestral: The first group of Terran musicians I would like to present to you is the Moody Blues, active from the mid 1960s and into the early decades of the twenty-first century. Their music was hailed as “the thinking-man’s rock ‘n’ roll” and it was most popular during the Vietnam War.

Sepek: The name of this band suggests that its members or their music are highly emotional.

Mestral: Indeed. Many humans found their music a way to explore and go beyond their emotions to achieve a higher level of consciousness.

Sepek: Such a practice is dangerous. In order to achieve a higher state of consciousness, one must suppress the emotions.

Mestral: If I may demonstrate, Ministers, here is an example every Vulcan explorer can relate to.

[The assembly listens to Gypsy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWuwUhSis1U]

Sepek: It is evident that you identified with the singer of this song.

Mestral: Justin Hayward?

Sepek: His name is not in question here, nor is the Vulcan emotional state evoked by this song. It is your judgment.

Mestral: If I may continue, Minister, I believe I can demonstrate that the Moody Blues represent humanity’s higher understanding of the universe.

Sepek: You may continue.

Mestral: Consider this sample.

[The assembly listens to Tuesday Afternoon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3aphxaDZMg ]

Sepek: Correct me if I’m wrong, but this song dates to 1967, the very height of the counter-culture’s experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Does humanity need to ingest mind-altering substances to reach a higher state of consciousness? Is this humanity’s understanding of the universe?

Mestral: Not at all. Consider the work of the Dalai Lama.

Sepek: We are considering the work of the Moody Blues. Have you anything more to say about these Terran musicians?

Mestral: A good deal more. This next song demonstrates that these five musicians from England felt the interconnectedness of all humanity and humanity’s ultimate connection to the universe. Although the song is performed in a minor key, indicative of great loss and urgency, the lyrics suggest hope that all mankind will understand this oneness. It is then that hostilities will cease.

[The assembly listens to A Simple Game http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlnExthvVQE]

And if you will indulge me by listening to one last example by the Moody Blues, Ministers, this poem demonstrates that humanity is capable of understanding Surak’s teachings.

[The assembly listens to The Balance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBZ7-NUZoJc]

Sepek: Perhaps, but these are just five humans out of 256 billion. You spoke of a “Vulcanness” you found in Terran popular music. Please clarify.

Mestral: This next group of modern musicians known as Dead Can Dance….

Sepek: An ominous name.

Mestral: Their music features influences from multiple cultures and ancient traditions. This first song could have been written by a follower of Surak. Due to the deep echo effect, you may not be able to hear the lyrics, but the opening stanza is this:

We scaled the face of reason

                                To find at least one sign

                                That could reveal the true dimensions

                                Of life, lest we forget.

                                And maybe it’s easier to withdraw from life

                                With all of its misery and wretched lies

                                Away from harm.

 

[The assembly listens to Anywhere Out of the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdjqIBZoIEY ]

 

Surak teaches us, “It is not the withdrawal from our world that will save it, but instead the desire to go out and transform it.”2

Sepek: Indeed. I think we can all agree to mark this song for preservation. [There is a consensus among the High Command].

Mestral: I have other examples from Dead Can Dance, which several musicologists agree mimic ancient Vulcan traditions. This song, known as Cantara, is very close in instrumentation, vocalization, melody, and rhythm to the te-Vikram dance ritual used to evoke a state of euphoria. Only their priestly castes of the deep desert are allowed to perform the song, and until recently, it was a closely guarded ritual of the Brotherhood. Yet here is something very similar from Earth.

[The assembly listens to Cantara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFcWwHPVy3s]

Sepek: Fascinating. Do you have an explanation as to how this close parallel between Vulcan and Earth music occurred?

Mestral: I do not. Nor can I explain how the song The Arrival and the Reunion resembles the chant performed in the fal-tor-pan ritual, in which the katra is reunited with the body.

[The assembly listens to The Arrival and the Reunion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJRsWErKCxA]

Sepek: Remarkable.

Mestral: I have two more examples of this parallel musical expression. I understand, Minister, that you listen to the compositions of the Vulcan flautist Selar.

Sepek: I do on occasion.

Mestral: Then you may hear some resemblance in this next instrumental piece by Dead Can Dance to his composition entitled The Hot Wind of Kir.

[The assembly listens to Windfall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg4AEPC4uqw]

Sepek: Truly astonishing. Are you suggesting, Mestral, that there has been a connection between Vulcan and Earth prior to First Contact and prior to your violation of the Prime Directive?

Mestral: I make no suggestions, Minister, only observations. Within the scientific community, the hypothesis put forth by the noted archaeologist Professor Richard Galen is generally accepted, namely that many humanoid species were seeded on their home planets by the ancient race referred to as The Preservers. Ancient Vulcan texts speak of the Vhorani, the Ancient Ones, who came from Vorta Vor, the Wellspring of Creation.3 And here, perhaps Dead Can Dance sing of them or of their offspring in this song.

[The assembly listens to Children of the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z4uITELiqw . There follows a lengthy debate among the ministers until a consensus is reached.]

Sepek: We shall retain the recorded files of popular Earth music within the Vulcan Archives for future study. Your efforts to understand the human mind, Mestral, are noted here.

________________________

SOURCES

1ENT: Carbon Creek episode: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Carbon_Creek_(episode)

2 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Exodus. (Vuclan’s Soul: Book 1). New York: Pocket Books, p. 48.

3 The Way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 18-19.

The Logic of the Forge

Recently, an excerpt from Surak’s teachings appeared in a publication commemorating the firstThe Forge 150 years of the United Federation of Planets. The selection is included as a sample of Vulcan philosophy and as an artifact of interest from one of the founding worlds. While the translation into Federation Standard English is satisfactory, the opening commentary is insufficient in detail to adequately introduce non-Vulcans to Surak’s writings. I would like to expand on and clarify that introduction here.

The journal entry featured in Federation: The First 150 Years is from a selection of writings typically referred to as The Logic of the The Forge, dating to the year 312 when Surak was 33 standard Vulcan years old. The entry is part of the Awakening phase of his life, after his family was killed and he lost his best friend Senet in the Sudocian Wars. While he took refuge in various part of Shi’Kahr, he was captured and tortured – not behind enemy lines – but by Shi’alan officials who believed he possessed military intelligence that would aid them in pinpointing the location of the mindlord Sudoc. Sudoc’s strikes on the region of Shi’al, and in particular the city of Shi’Kahr were Surak lived, were vicious and unrelenting. Shi’alan military officials sought to end the war by infiltrating Sudoc’s compound and executing the warlord. Sudoc knew they were getting close. Days earlier, his mind-controlled assassins penetrated Shi’Kahr and slaughtered several of its top-ranking officers, including General Solek, Surak’s father, and their households.

When they brought Surak in for questioning, they found him wandering the streets in a state of shock. He’d been out with his friends – one of whom was Senet – when Surak’s family was murdered. His confusion only increased when officials began interrogating him about his defection from the army. They accused him of desertion and, therefore, treason. They accused him of orchestrating his family’s murder. Surak, they said, deserted his position in the Shi’alan army and killed his own family because he was under the influence of Sudoc’s psychic powers. Stunned, Surak invoked the right of privilege. In those days, the sons and daughters of the wealthy were spared from the draft. Only a handful these young people freely chose to enter military service, preferring instead days of leisure. Surak was no exception and spent his youth enjoying games of strategy and debating the finer points of philosophy with a close circle of friends.

General Solek was so embarrassed by Surak’s lack of patriotism that he created a complete forgery of records detailing his son’s distinguished career in the army. Hence, the officials’ confusion and the comment in the aforementioned introduction: “The Vulcan philosopher Surak grew up in a world plagued by war and on the edge of self-destruction. As a young man, he fought in those wars in the infantry; he attributed much of his later philosophy to the changes he underwent during his ordeal.”[1]

This last statement is undeniably true.  In his journal, Surak wrote: “Vesht nam-tor nash-veh has-bosh fna’mesh; Nekal nash-veh agreibaya t’au, vesht tan-tor na’au ek’ro’fori ik psal au. I was sick over my humiliation; I had succumbed to their torture, given them all the information they had sought….”[2] In passages preceding the one quoted here, Surak described the nature of the information he had given the authorities and how that revelation affected him.

“I did have the information they sought,” he wrote, “for I had touched my father as he lay dying and saw it in his mind. I saw his hopes and his fears. I knew where Sudoc hid. I knew where all his wives and children were. I knew where his generals were, and all their wives and children. My father had learned their location through his operatives, who were also killed that night – before any of that intelligence could be utilized. With a few cowardly words, I sentenced them all to death.”

Later, when Surak began teaching peace and compassion in the crowded markets, he was often asked, “Why did you not rejoice at this information and give it eagerly? Here was your chance to destroy the man who destroyed your family and countless others.” Surak replied, “Does the destruction of the man who destroyed my family elevate me above him? Does the destruction of innocents for the sake of his execution absolve my conscience of the blood that has been spilled due to my words? Will not the survivors in his compound wish to retaliate? When will it end?”

Although Sudoc escaped the storming of his compound, the majority of his family was killed. During the raid, Surak managed to flee his cell and escaped through a series of tunnels into the neighboring kingdom of Lhai where he wandered the Forge for days until the search parties thought him dead.

In this journal entry, Surak wrote, “Katal nahp pa’svik mesh, heh vesht fai-tor hash-veh ta worla kupi hal-tor nash-veh na’ha-kel. The thought of my betrayal brought guilt, and I knew I could never go home.”[3] The betrayal he speaks of here is not only the betrayal of his close circle of friends but also the betrayal of self. At that point in his life, his friends had become his family, and during his incarceration, he had revealed their whereabouts through the pain of torture. They were all charged with sedition and wanted for questioning. But most of all, Surak was troubled by his betrayal of his own morals. By giving into his emotions and the pain, he failed to stand by his convictions, he later said.

One of the most interesting segments of this entry is Surak’s confession that he broke one of Vulcan’s ancient taboos. After he had wandered in the Forge for several days without food and water, he was awoken by a scout craft flying dangerously low overhead. Moments later, he witnessed its crash and ran to the crumpled fuselage to check for survivors. He pulled the bodies of two pilots – both dead – from the wreckage and searched the craft for survival rations and water but found none. “Thirst was overcoming me,” he wrote, “and I thought…I could drink their blood. It would allow me to survive. My religious upbringing considered this a violation of sacred law. If I did this and was discovered, I would be an outcast, I would be tried and executed.”[4]

Surak sat with the bodies for a long time, thirst and uncertainty gnawing at his mind. He thought of his home and his family of friends. He struggled to find meaning in his life and why he even might want to continue living. He thought of all the emotional states that had brought him to this place, that had brought all of Vulcan to this place, and began to formulate his renowned treatise on fear. The elimination of fear, he believed, was the key. He concluded, “Vesht pla-ash-tor nash-veh s’riklopaya; u’samu-esh, khal ozhika eh vesht var-tor ozhika nash-veh rish-tor. Vesht mon-tor nash-veh plak, visolektal nash-veh vukhutlar heh fa’lefator nash-veh. I stepped back from my indecision; like a cool breath, logic took over and told me to survive. I drank the blood, buried the bodies, and continued on.”[5]

Surak’s treatise on fear remains to this day one of the most influential pieces of Vulcan literature.

While copyright restrictions prevent me from posting the FSE translation of Surak’s journal entry, here is the original in Traditional Golic Vulcan:  Ozhika t’ah’Hrak


[1] An Excerpt from the Teachings of Surak in Goodman, David A. (2012). Star Trek: Federation: The First 150 Years. London: Titan Books, p. 17)

[2] ibid, p. 19.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

The Silences

Ralash WhiteDuring the time he spent speaking in Shi’Kahr’s public places, advocating for a change in Vulcan lifestyle, Surak often spoke of respect. It was the one simple courtesy he felt was essential for each Vulcan to master and practice on a daily basis. Without it there could be no emotional control and no peace. Respect was sorely lacking in Vulcan culture during his time, as he demonstrated in this speech given on the steps of the Suta Temple in the year 323. In it, he outlined a code of conduct which became known as The Silences.

“It is always a signal that something is wrong when leaders live by different rules than citizens. In fact, it is the breakdown of society, of all that is civilized. A citizen cannot access the networks without being tracked. Purchases, conversations, messages, information-searches, images, health records, employment records, academic records, criminal records, family records, and property records are captured by data-mining software. The information is sold to the one who makes the highest offer. Credit applications are denied due to political affiliation. Job applicants are turned away because of their genetic predisposition to diseases. Identities, access codes, and bank accounts are stolen. Political opponents contact voters directly and take positions or make promises that are shielded from scrutiny by the public. Students are expelled for criticizing their teachers. Surveillance cameras are installed along borders encouraging anyone to access and monitor illegal crossings. False reports and vigilantism come in waves.

“Yet one cannot learn by accessing the nets what Minister Pola purchased today, what he ate for breakfast, what vaccinations he’s received or what childhood diseases he’s had, what genetic diseases are prevalent in his family, his score on the Academy exit exam, what transportation he uses, what personal interests he has, what his marital status is, when his last pon farr was and if any offspring were produced, what his household income is, or even where his private residence is located. All one sees is a simple file which includes his educational degrees and specialty, his title of office, and his official commcode. No personal information is given.

“This is how it should be – for all of us. Only in the sanctity of privacy can we find peace. The intensity and complexity of life meant to evolve civilization have done the opposite – devolved it – making retreat from the world a necessity for Vulcan sanity and the control of the emotions. Modern technology and business practices, through invasion of privacy and lack of societal regulation, have subjected us to mental distress far greater than any bodily injury. We have lost our right as individuals to be let alone. Once information and images of an individual are on the nets, they can be used against that individual in perpetuity, making it impossible for him or her to leave an old life behind and start a new one. We have lost our integrity and far more. We have lost our soul because we have lost respect for one another.

“Only by leaving others the privacy of their minds and lives can we regain what we have lost. The courts do not protect individuals against the collection and selling of personal information. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the citizen to uphold the right of those around him to be let alone.

“How can we do this? Through the elimination of the incessant noise of life – through The Silences – by allowing each individual privacy in these aspects of life:

Birth:  This is a private journey shared by mother and child. No others should be present except those responsible for their care. The mother should not be distracted from bonding with the child. Announcing the birth on the nets and posting images leaves the child vulnerable.

Home and family life:  The location of one’s home must remain private information to preserve the sanctity of the house as a retreat from the world. While the honor and tradition of guest-right should be maintained, do not expect to be invited to the home of another. When wishing to meet with one whom you do not know, request that the meeting occur in a public place so that you do not intrude upon the individual’s personal sanctuary. Additionally, the individual should be contacted through his or her place of work or study and not at home.

Personal space:  Allow each individual a cushion of space. Do not intrude with your gaze, your voice, or your touch. Remain at a respectful distance, at least one pace away. Establish consent, even with the one to whom you are bonded, before you invade the other’s space. Do not ask another’s name of a third party. Wait for the owner to give it.

Spiritual beliefs:  Allow one the privacy of his or her experience with the being or force responsible for the creation and maintenance of the universe. It is a journey you cannot take and it is not your concern. We each have our own journey to which we must attend.

Thoughts and remembrances:  I have said before that it is the inherent right of all Vulcans to meld in mind and spirit. If you meld, do not invade the thoughts and remembrances of the other. Let the other reveal them to you, if that is his or her wish. Likewise, do not force your thoughts, desires, or memories on the other. Wait for an invitation. And above all else, never enter the other’s mind unbidden.

Time alone:  When you sense that you have come to the limits of your abilities, retreat into your personal sanctuary and conserve energy. Likewise, allow each individual time alone to heal and renew the mind, body, and soul.

Bonding and pon farr:  There are few situations in life that are more sacred than the link between bondmates. When their link is active through a mind-meld, pon farr, the birth of a child, or a more mundane event, no one else in the world matters, and no one should intrude. Even the status of their bonding is a matter only to be shared between the pair, their families, and close friends. And when their bond is severed by death, the survivor should be cared for but left to heal in the privacy of his or her thoughts and memories.

Death:  There is no life event more personal than death. While birth is the experience of two, death can only be experienced by one. It is a solitary journey. Allow those dying privacy. It is the last offer of respect that we can give. Death records, like all medical records, should be sealed, made available only to those who demonstrate a legal or scientific need to know.”

These are The Silences – the quieting of the noise of the Vulcan species.

_____________________

For those of you who would like to practice reading in Traditional Golic Vulcan, here is the original text:   Ralash-Fam’eslar

The Ritual of Kolinahr

The traditional character for Kolinahr in the Zun script. For more info, visit korsaya.org.

The traditional character for Kolinahr in the Zun script. For more info, visit korsaya.org.

Offworlders, especially humans, have always been curious about Vulcan ritual, discipline, and emotional control. Questions come in many forms but invariably culminate in the same topic – Tu-Kolinahr, “The Way of Kolinahr.” Those who aren’t familiar with the discipline ask, “What is Kolinahr?” Others who have read or heard about it wonder, “Why would you want to purge yourself of all emotion? How is that even possible?”

Although I cannot claim to have achieved this enlightened state, I shall do my best to answer these questions here.

Kolinahr is an advanced Vulcan discipline that results in a state of complete emotional stability. More specifically, the need to control one’s emotions no longer exists because one has learned to block all emotional reactions to both external and internal stimuli. The greatest threat from external stimuli comes from the volatile emotions of others. Vulcans are empathic and therefore highly sensitive to the emotions of others, particularly other Vulcans. The depth and range of emotions that Vulcans feel are far greater that that of any other known species, even humans. Vulcans also have a very low threshold to pain due to highly developed neural pathways. It is for these reasons that the Vulcan child is taught from a very early age techniques to control the emotions and to develop a high tolerance to pain. As Surak has taught us, these steps are necessary to ensure the survival of the species. Surak nearly witnessed the extinction of the Vulcan species by its own hands but was able to instigate an awakening, a gradual enlightenment, through mindfulness and logic. But Surak did not create the Way of Kolinahr. That distinction belongs to a man named Sanshiin, who lived from 319-596, and was one of the first Kolinahru mindlords to accept the teachings of Surak. “While other paths seek to repress emotion, Kolinahr attempts to rid the mind and soul of every passion, be it joyful or wrathful, one by one, using the process known as t’san s’at, every emotion is mentally deconstructed and purged from the psyche, leaving only the Vulcan’s intellect.”1

Sanshiin is often quoted as saying, “I shall become as the stone.” What did he mean by this? When he was a cruel mindlord, he was preoccupied with the attainment of immortality. He noted that millions of Vulcans were born, lived, and died while the rocks of Mount Kolinahr remained unchanged over thousands of years. Later, as a follower of Surak, he remembered the strength and endurance of the stone in withstanding the tide of time. He built a demanding discipline for the Vulcan to withstand the tide of emotion. It is interesting to note that the Terran duo Simon and Garfunkel expressed this sentiment in the song I Am a Rock: “A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” Regrettably, the protagonist of the song would not be admitted to the discipline of Kolinahr, for it is not used to dull the senses or to escape unpleasant feelings. Kolinahr is not the building up of walls but rather it is concerned with breaking them down until there is no need for walls.

For many, the life of a Kolinahr master seems like a lonely existence – cold and flat, devoid of the color and richness of feeling. “One might as well be dead,” an Andorian once said to me. Although the analysis is crude, it is not entirely inaccurate. “Sanshiin taught that all emotion was a trick to keep us from seeing the universe as it truly was. Once emotion was cast away, a Vulcan would be one with all creation.”2 To achieve Kolinahr, one must essentially die and be reborn. This of course is not a physical death of the body or mind but of what Surak called pach-te. “To explain pach-te as ‘selfishness’ is simplifying Surak’s philosophy, but it’s a good start. Once the student has freed himself from pach-te, his will cease to be concerned with himself, focusing all of his concern on the welfare of others.”3

Kolinahr, then, is the ceasing of all distinctions between the self and the outside world. Because emotion is a form of expression, the Kolinahr master has no need of it. Instead, s/he has established an interconnectedness with the universe – an understanding that goes beyond words, feeling, and even thought. Very few Vulcans reach this state, except in death, when the katra is released from the body.

At present, there are three places on Vulcan where one may petition the elders to enter the Way of Kolinahr: The Kolinahru Monastery in Gol, the Akrelt Refuge in Gol, and the Riakin Sanctuary in Zhial. Of those who petition, very few are admitted. Those who are devote years to special training and ritual instruction to prepare themselves for a new way of life.

PETITION

The following dialogue demonstrates the ritual words of petition and acceptance or denial:

Trensu: Bai’ra lof sarlah du na’[Kolinahru, Akrelt, Riakin].

Orensu: Sarlah nash-veh vaya’akas-tor vikal na’ Kolinahr. [Fi’oslauvoskaf nam-tor kihsev t’Kol-Ut-Shan,  sehtebihk t’Kolinahr, oshi t’katra, eh ha’fek].

Trensu: [i’shitau ha’gel na’ha’fek] Ne’limuk-saudaya t’T’Klass, vesht nam-tor veh wuh’rak t’trensular t’Kolinahr, svi’la’es t’aifa-za-vellar vokau ik vesht vuhrgwauk t’ek’Vuhlkansular, svi’nash-shi puabru-tor s’orfikkel svi’ma’os-wak, tan’voh na’nash-veh vaya’akas.

Orensu: Fi’mazhiv t’panu t’etek, vesht dakh orfikkel aushfamaluhr shau-kaush heh korsoval vun-koshtri bai’aktaibuhl t’kolinahr. Nam-tor ish-veh ik psau nash-veh. Tor nash-veh vaya’akas na’tu eh ya’akash t’du kakhartau nash-veh du’psthan.

Trensu: Zhu-tor nash-veh ra ya’akash du.

Translation

Master: For what purpose do you come to [Kolinahru, Akrelt, Riakin]?

Aspirant: I come to petition for my admission to the Kolinahr. [Upon the altar are an IDIC pendant, a symbol of Kolinahr, a katric ark, and a candle].

Master: [lighting the candle] Beneath the visage of T’Klass, one of the first Kolinahr masters, in the presence of these relics that recall the shared past of all Vulcans, in this place raised by our forbearers in antiquity, make your petition.

Aspirant: On the sands of our world, our ancestors cast out their animal passions, saving our race by the attainment of Kolinahr. It is that which I seek. I make my petition to you, asking you to guide me in my quest.

Master: I hear what you ask.4

As mentioned previously, more often than not, the aspirant will be denied, deemed unready for admittance. S/he, then, will hear these words:

Trensu: [i’sayonotau ha’fek fi’oslauvoskaf] [Ahm t’orensu], kan t’[ahm t’sa-mekh], kan t’[ahm t’sa-mekh  t’sa’mekh], puwafau vaya’akas t’du na’Kolinahr.

Translation

 Master: [extinguishing the candle on the altar] [Name of aspirant], child of [name of father], child of [name of father’s father], your petition for the Kolinahr is denied.5

ACCEPTANCE

If the applicant is considered ready to enter the Kolinahr, the aspirant is taken to the cell that will serve as his/her quarters and asked to light the wall sconce within. The following exchange occurs as part of the ritual:

Trensu: [Ahm t’orensu], kan t’[ahm t’sa-mekh], kan t’[ahm t’sa-mekh t’sa’mekh],punar-tor vaya’akas t’du na’kolinahr.

Orensu: Pudorlik nash-veh.

Trensu: Na’palikaya t’fa’gad, fa-wak ha’au tu la abi’veh-il-vath navau il vravshau tu svi’psthan. Fa-wak  palikau ish-veh fa-gad na’gad-keshtan. Lau-katau tu ra fisai-tor du eh wuh-rubah t’sai-vel. Fa-wak putanilau ek’vath-vellar na’tu.

Translation

Master: [Name of aspirant], child of [name of father], child of [name of father’s father], your petition for the Kolinahr is accepted.

Aspirant: I am honored.

Master: Beginning tomorrow, you will live here until either you succeed or you fail in your quest. It will commence tomorrow at dawn. You may bring what you wear and a single change of clothing. All else will be provided for you.6

ATTAINMENT

If after an intense regimen of training, discipline, and tests, the aspirant is able to transcend all emotions to a heightened state of understanding, the final ceremony is conducted by the master and two other elders, who act as witnesses. Since it is a private matter, there is no audience in attendance, and the ritual is conducted on sacred ground – in a place of stone, water, and fire. The applicant descends steps—carved out of stone and bearing ancient glyphs – and kneels upon the stone in a designated place. S/he waits, head down, with hands folded in meditation. At last the master speaks from the steps above.

 Trensu: Shahtau la halovaya ta ki’nem-tor etek teretuhr, fulagan nash-orensu, fi’mazhiv wilat vesht dakh orfikkel aushfamaluhr shau-kaush. Na’nash-wadan, fi’nash-gad, psau etek rom’lasha orensu silau etek svi’panu t’ozhika. Panu svi’ik ki’pufoshuhl zherka, eh spanakau drom-ozhika ek ta nam-tor etek heh ek ta tor etek. [na’dahr-trensu] Trensu [ahm t’trensu], fa-wak to-go-rasathau wuh’rak tu. 

Dahr-Trensu: Fa-wak to-go-rasathau wuh’rak nash-veh, Trensu [ahm t’trensu]. [Afer-tor dahr-trensu kash-nohv k’orensu. Na’shahtaya t’kash-nohv, fun-tor dahr-trensu nem-tor shi na’vla los-rak t’Trensu].

Trensu: [na’rehr-trensu] Trensu [ahm t’trensu], fa-wak to-go-rasathau thurai tu.

Rehr-Trensu: Fa-wak to-go-rasathau thurai nash-veh, Trensu [ahm t’trensu]. [Afer-tor rehr-trensu kash-nohv k’orensu. Na’shahtaya t’kash-nohv, fun-tor rehr-trensu nem-tor shi na’vla gas-rak t’Trensu].

Trensu: I’fa-wak to-go-rasathau nash-veh. [na’orensu] [Ahm t’orensu], shahtau la halovaya ta ki’nem-tor etek teretuhr. Ki’nam-tor du orensu tevun-yonuklar aifa-wehk, hi fa-wak shahtau ish isha. Nash-gad fa-wak srasha tu kolinahr il fa-wak ri srasha tu. Rinatyan na’kim-pavek, fa-wak trasha tu [ahm t’fmak] fa-gad heh fun-tor du na’ha’kiv rik’aifa-haishayalar ta ki’ya’akash du t’du-shai eh ta ki’khartal nash-veh.

Orensu: Ken-tor nash-veh, oTrensu. Pudator nash-veh.

Trensu: Nahp t’du i. Tan’voh au na’nash-veh. Kashek t’nash-veh na’kashek t’du. Nahp t’nash-veh na’nahp t’du. [Puashiv-tor torek t’kash-nohv. Lu pushahtau torek, fun-tor trensu na’shi fi’kaiden. She-tor orensu eh zahal-tor. Ashenau trensu el’ru gas-rak spo’ta’al. Fun-tor orensu ta’al heh sarlah lam-tor fa’trensu. Svi’vath-el’ru meskarau trensu eku t’khlop-thon-shidlar pukur-tor ik pununau teretuhr shidorau sehtebihk vuhlkansu t’drom-ozhika. Pa’talular fisai-tor trensular nash-sehtebihk fi’naf-elakh]. Vesht dakh orfikkel aushfamaluhr shau-kaush la fi’aifa-mazhiv.Pukorsau vuhn-koshtri bai’akteibhuhl t’kolinahr.

Rehr-Trensu: Kolinahr, bai’ik ek’zherka pufoshuhl t’forti.

Trensu: Ki’zup-tor du akarshif, [ahm t’orensu]. I’poprah’voh s’etek nash-sehtebihk t’ovsotuhl-ozhika. [Namal-nefau orensu eh shitau trensu naf-elakh leshan sehtebihk t’kolinahr pa’talu t’orensu]. Rom’lasha etek du vi’panu t’etek, [ahm t’orensu].

Oresnu: [na’ek’trensular] Naglanshau nash-veh tanlar ta ki’tor ek’dular na’nash-srashiv.

Translation

 Master: The journey we have taken together, leading this aspirant, ends here, on the sands where our ancestors cast out their animal passions. At this hour, on this day, we seek to invite the aspirant to join us in a world of reason. A world in which emotion has been shed, and where pure logic dictates all that we are and all that we do. [to the Second Elder] Elder [name of elder], you will judge first.

Second Elder: I will judge first, Master [name of master]. [The Second Elder establishes a mind-meld with the aspirant. Upon the completion of the meld, the Second Elder returns to take his/her place at the Master’s left side].

Master: [to Third Elder] Elder [name of elder], you will judge next.

Third Elder: I will judge next, Master [name of master]. [The Third Elder establishes a mind-meld with the aspirant. Upon the completion of the meld, the Third Elder returns to take his/her place at the Master’s right side].

Master: I will now judge. [to the aspirant] [Name of aspirant], the journey we have taken together ends here. You have been an aspirant these many seasons, but that too will end. Today you will achieve the Kolinahr or you will not. Regardless of the outcome, you will depart [name of sanctuary] tomorrow and return to a life without these demands that you have asked of yourself and that I have directed.

Aspirant: I understand, Master. I am prepared.

Master: Your thoughts, then. Give them to me. My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts.7[The mind-meld process is repeated. When the process is finished, the master returns to the place on the stairs. The aspirant rises and follows. The master raises his/her right hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting. The aspirant returns the gesture and comes to stand before the master. In the other hand, the master holds a set of colored geometric shapes fitted together to form the Vulcan symbol of pure logic. Around their necks, the elders wear this symbol on a chain]. Our ancestors cast out their animal passions here on these sands. Our race was saved by the attainment of Kolinahr.

Third Elder: Kolinahr, through which all emotion is finally shed.

Master: You have labored long, [name of aspirant]. Now receive from us this symbol of total logic. [The aspirant kneels and the master places the chain bearing the Kolinahr symbol around the aspirant’s neck]. We welcome you into our world, [name of aspirant].

Aspirant:[to all the elders] I recognize the contributions all of you have made to this accomplishment.8

This is merely a fleeting glimpse at the private ritual surrounding the petition for and the attainment of Kolinahr. In future posts, we’ll consider the various practices and disciplines some individuals have followed along the path to Kolinahr.

SOURCES

1The way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 17.

2ibid.

3ibid, p. 15.

4George, David R. III (2006). The fire and the rose. (Crucible: Spock). New York: Pocket Books, p. 172-177.

5ibid, p. 177.

6ibid, p. 208.

7ibid, p. 315-137.

8ibid, p. 320-321.