Languages and Language in New Professional Life

As I'm making a professional transition from being a university lecturer in linguistics to being a self-employed life coach, the constellation of the languages I use in my professional life is also undergoing a fundamental reshuffle.

Being a linguist specializing in Hebrew as well as Yiddish and Esperanto to a lesser extent, I used to use these three languages as both objects and tools of my study. As I don't specialize in these languages any more, Esperanto has totally disappeared from my new professional (and private) life. Hebrew and, to a lesser extent, Yiddish serve me now as languages for classical sources of Judaism, especially (Chabad) Hasidism, and their contemporary commentaries, which I try to incorporate into my new practice of Jewish life coaching.

Though I received my BA and MA in Japan, few of my reading and reference materials then were in Japanese, so I never developed my professional lexicon and style in Japanese. As my new practice is meant for speakers of Japanese, I have the first opportunity in my entire life to use it professionally, though mostly orally in my interaction with Japanese-speaking clients. English remains as important as before as the main source of modern professional information and knowledge.

The biggest linguistic change in this professional transition is the change of my concept about language in general. I feel and experience more and more strongly that language is not only limited but also limiting. It limits us in that it keeps us trapped in the prison made unconsciously by our mind, which uses language as its main tool. Our mind itself is supposed to be our servant, but this servant has hijacked its master and has become the master itself.

In this new light I can't see any essential meaning for myself any more in the study of languages and language as is done in the so-called academic research. I see even far less meaning in the very idea of an international planned language such as Esperanto as a tool for unifying the humankind because of the above-mentioned limitation. Actually, we are already unifieded as divine souls. All we have to do is to become aware of this and transcend our ego, both individual and collective. For this purpose we also have to transcend our mind, hence language, too.

For similar reasons I can't help seeing, e.g., secular Yiddishism, as nothing but mental idol worship.


At the Crossroads in the Seventh Professional Shift

I've just started the second year of my two-year sabbatical, or to be more precise, special one-year leave until the end of next September. Like on sabbatical I'm exempt from teaching, but unlike on sabbatical I'm also be exempt from research and free to do whatever work I want. Having received a certificate as a professional life coach about three months ago, I've just started my experimental practice of Jewish life coaching online as well as the teaching of online courses that can hopefully supplement it. All of them are meant for speakers of Japanese.

The period of the so-called ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur was a perfective time to reflect upon what seems to be my seventh professional shift and its implications. I also recalled the previous six ones and their respective obstacles I had to get over. These seven shifts are as follows:

  1. Age 18: Starting to major in language instead of some type of engineering as I planned before
  2. Age 22: Continuing my graduate study of linguistics
  3. Age 25: Continuing my PhD in Hebrew linguistics in Israel
  4. Age 30: Leaving Israel for Japan and starting to look for a permenent position at any Japanese university
  5. Age 41: Leaving Japan for Israel and starting to work as a lecturer in Hebrew linguistics at an Israeli university
  6. Age 46: Receiving tenure at the same university
  7. Age 57 (at the end of this one-year special leave): Leaving this university, hence academia and linguistics for Jewish life coaching

Though I'm still at the crossroads in this seventh professional shift, I can already say that it's the most significant one so far in that it also involves a fundamental change in the area and type of work - from academia to a helping profession, and from being an employee to being a self-employed.

As I moved from one shift to another, I encountered more and more difficult obstacles. What seems to be the most insurmountable obstacle in this seventh shift is also a totally new one to me - client acquisition. I knew in advance that it wouldn't be easy to find new clients, but this task has turned out to be far more difficult in the meanwhile. I've decided to hire a specialist to get over this obstacle, hoping that what I'll learn from him will help me accomplish the task of becoming financially self-supporting by the time I stop receiving my monthly salary in about one year. I've also been trying to implement a certain ultimate "technique" of Hasidic self-coaching, which I'd like to share with my clients-to-be in the future after verifying its efficacy on my own "flesh".

Since I decided to make this shift about a year and a half, quite a few people - mainly those in academia - have tried in vain to persuade me to reverse this decision of mine by scaring me. Through the teachings of Hasidism I started studying formally about a year ago to complement my professional training in life coaching I've come to a totally different state of consciousness and understanding, according to which I can't see any significance in the so-called academic research for myself. I can also see that no life experiences I've had so far, including the previous six chapters in my professional life, have been wasted, with each of them making some contribution, be it major or minor, to this new seventh chapter I'm daring to open.