In thought and communication we have a tendency to use what may be called “stop words.” For example, we may say, “God is Love,” or “Life is about awakening to truth,” or “Life is initiation into X.” The last word in such sentences is often, as we typically use it, a stop word.
Words and thoughts are intimately intertwined, often becoming for us as if one thing. The sentences, the set formulas we arrive at, often have a kind of finality to them. We make our formula with a neat ending point, a point that may easily stand as headstone marking the death of our free and open thought. We do a mental word-magic that gives us the sense that we understanding something, and perhaps sometimes we do. Yet the vast realities of life are far beyond our simple formulas and we may fail to appreciate the limited experiences of life that have given birth to our thoughts and words.
Today, I overheard someone say, “I know God is Love, but what does that mean?” This simple question is an achievement of considerable magnitude. Often, we fail to question meaning, and so in our busy verbal plentitude, fail to fathom the great distances between words and experiences.
The proselytizer on the street corner asks, “Have you been saved?” “Have you accepted Christ as your savior?” Is it not astounding that people can launch such questions at each other?
In my formula “Words express thoughts,” the last word is or can be another “stop” word. I suggested that we use words to express thoughts, but of course words also express emotion and sense experience, as well as a world of things transcendent to these.
Perhaps the wise use of words is akin to crossing a bridge. We don’t want to stop on the bridge; rather we want to crossover and ever beyond. Our use of words should be as fluid and free as the wind and the ever-widening depth of our experience. The bridge of words is no place for a permanent dwelling. Our life is in the infinite, so let our play with words like “infinite” be a truly free and open way.
Words are useful and support community of understanding when those who use them are “on the same page,” as the cliché has it. Some language works against this through ambiguity or vagueness, which no doubt mirrors the corresponding weakness in human consciousness. Each person is free to spin words and concepts in a certain way, often without regard to the language of another or the confusion engendered. We can mitigate this Tower of Babble effect by paying close attention to the thinking and communicating process as mediated by words. One aspect of this pertains to the degeneration of terms and concepts.
Perhaps one of the most difficult word-meaning problems occurs in cases where the same word can mean opposite things. This sometimes occurs where unfriendly forces hijack a word with a benevolent tradition. For instance, a dictionary shows that the word “mystic” has suffered some debasement, having spilled over in its usage with the word “occult,” a term with some unsavory magical associations. So, a given word may point to it’s opposite where popular thought arrives at a strange mix of dark and light, of spiritual and anti-spiritual connotations.
“There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.”
— Niels Bohr
“It is a platitude as well as an occult paradox to say that in the midst of profound personality distress and unhappiness, the joy of the soul may be known and felt.”
— A Treatise on White Magic, Alice Bailey
“…it is necessary primarily to preserve the personality but be freed of egotism. To many, such an antithesis will seem absurd; for them, egotism is personality. The manifestation of a powerful personality devoted to the General Good is beyond the imagination of many, but without personality thinking would not have potency.”
— Helena Roerich
We have all the time in the world, but there is no time to loose.
One must achieve detachment. But detachment is separation, and one must achieve unification that is the ultimate “attachment.”
We are to be oriented to the soul that takes us away from the world. At the same time we are to be oriented to humanity that involves us in the world.
The individual is of supreme importance, and at the same time not important at all because it is the larger whole that is important.
Death is the result of a living process.
All metaphysical teachings are full of abstract concepts, yet it is said that nothing abstract is of any use. What’s the use of anything abstract? Abstract floats lonely in the upper regions of the cosmic undefined.
Someone speaks about the concept of truth within and the need to turn within. Notice the paradox between this and the concept of unity. Since unity exists, turning within can also be turning without. Since unity exists, looking without is in one sense looking within. So it appears, that in broadening of consciousness, the distinction between inner and outer melts away.
Contradictions may be considered as different aspects of the same manifestation. But if one, then there is no contradiction.
“Nothing is farther than earth from heaven; nothing is nearer than heaven to earth.”
— Hare & Charles
“All high truth is the union of two contradictions.”
“The Fanatic Is The Man Who Cannot Understand A Paradox. Most fanatics, cranks, and madmen, are those who are unable to understand a paradox. Every truth has its opposite, which is also true. Sanity consist in understanding this; insanity in failing to see it.
Workable, every day truth is made up of two or more contradictions. The true doctrine is always the balance. For instance, the truth lies not in fate (determinism, predestination) nor in free will, but in both. Man is not a spirit, nor a brute; he is both. Whoever excludes wholly the one or the other from his idea of man is not so much untrue as he is crazy.”
— Frank Crane
Words seem to spring from classifications and division, yet the paradox is that every word may become catalyst. So, ultimately, words bridge the gaps between divisions, yielding sparks of amazing cognition.
It’s lovely to have a thought or question from another, from what they are, because it’s an invitation to find our thought, to find ourselves, to really learn and discover. Often people do not know how precious these conversational gifts can be, or they would share themselves more lavishly. They do not see what an adventure it is.
Sometimes we speak, not from what we are, but from what we imagine ourselves to be. Sometimes it’s a creative act-as-if, and sometimes just pretense, a kind of groping in the dark.
But in real talk we would speak from what we are, and that speaking would be an act of discovery. But if we’re frozen in shyness, how will we discover, how will we find the open road of adventure? We can’t achieve unless we assert ourselves and speak the facts as we see them. We can’t relate to people unless we have a thought, say it straight, make it heard.
The teacher spoke. No one had a tape recorder handy or seemed to know shorthand. He used our words instead of his, adapting a little of what he saw we could grasp. Of the part we heard, we recalled a portion. In time, we came to understand, vaguely, a part of what our memory seemed to say. Of that portion, we wrote and spoke a little, and strangers with their own political agendas moved part of that to other languages. We heard, or thought we did—had we been women, we would have heard differently. No one in the chain thought much about the anomalies of retro-cognition, or vicissitudes of linguistic obscuration.
In the sky, sunlight in the air; on Earth, fragments on the ground…
Everything transcendental is above the limits of external language. In direct realization we no longer need translation by linking words to meanings via external personal experiences. Yet fidelity of “reception” and “transmission” are still issues. We may catch a meaning directly, but there will still be limitations surrounding its embodiment on the personality level, that is in the form it takes in the mind, emotion, or physical world. Yet, in the depths of consciousness we can still sense the truth directly. And if the realization is revisited directly, it becomes apparent that the body we give it is inadequate. Words and images never fully embody the realities of spiritual life.