“The hard swallow built into science is this business about the big bang… This is the notion that the universe, for no reason, sprang from nothing in a single instant… notice that this is the limit test for credulity. Whether you believe this or not, notice that it is not possible to conceive of something more unlikely, or less likely to be believed. I defy anyone. It’s just the limit case for unlikelihood: that the universe would spring from nothing in a single instant for no reason… It is in fact no different than saying, “and then God said, ‘Let there be light!’ What the philosophers of science are saying is “give us one free miracle and we will roll from that point forward, from the birth of time to the crack of doom.” Terence McKenna
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.
People notice thoughts and emotions within themselves. Is this simple division an adequate description of what transpires in consciousness? Often not, but this binary tends to guide and define the inner life and common discourse about it. We may speak of thoughts or feelings for which we do not yet have appropriate words, but are “feelings” and “thoughts” adequate terms for the full kaleidoscope of inner experience? And who was it that first defined or limited consciousness to the somewhat trivial sounding binary of thought and emotion?
Clear water flashes silver in the sun. So lifted are all feelings in the soul’s light.
“I cannot be awake for nothing looks to me as it did before,
Or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep.”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
Question, quest: to seek, ask.
The quest is born of fire.
But the sleeping body asks no burning questions.
We search for understanding. Many thoughtful comparisons present themselves, and for the sincere thinker the weighty questions cannot be avoided. Details from diverse fields call attention to the need for grand synthesis. We seek because the motivational force is beautiful. Each facet of the mosaic of life comes to embody a transcendent reflection of startling beauty. So the hard surface of things leads inward toward the profound luminous world of the soul.
“To know Rather consists in opening a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape”
If something is merely pretty to us, it means we are yet on the surface of it. When it becomes beautiful–then is the shock of transformation. When our fires burn dimly, the perceived surface sparks only ephemeral curiosity, and the true colors are invisible to our sleep eyes. If the fire of beauty is not yet kindled in us, it means we’ve fallen into sleepwalking. So at each stage we must counteract somnambulism. Let us sense the evolution of knowledge as a limitless ocean of beautiful possibilities.
Search, Question, Quest, Find, Speak
“Here is the efflux of the soul,
The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower’d gates,
ever provoking questions,
These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why are
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight
expands my blood?…
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious
thoughts descend upon me?…
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by
What gives me to be free to a woman’s and man’s good-will? What
gives them to be free to mine?”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
The Egyptian sun worshipers have moved on, and modern science now speaks of a ball of hot gasses. Yet the center of our solar system remains spiritually commanding. We might picture seven dimensions of the sun, or forty-nine And to make these wonders present for us now, to make them come out of the air to us and to all, that would be most practical.
“…every genuine child feels the sun shine right into his chest in quite another way than grownups do…”
Second Light, Vilhelm Ekelund
“I was lifted high,
In sun-bright healing winds—desiring now
A greater beauty…”
— Marion Wentworth
Usually, people think of beauty as something perceived, something we subjectively attribute to an object or a person. But I find the spiritual meaning of beauty is different. Spiritual beauty is not a passive perception but an active and transformative power. It is the energy of the intuitional world. We commune with such beauty, we enter into it and it enters into us. It is unity and Fire. It is “the world of pure meaning.” This beauty is not our personal response to an object in the world. Rather, beauty is itself a multidimensional world of rainbow archetypes.
In the archetypal world the divine mosaic shines in beauty. We encounter considerable fidelity problems in translating this world of pure meaning into its best correspondences in thought and words. It is a valiant effort, yet the lesser cannot fully include the greater. Still we try to mirror it. Fortunately, the mental mirror is itself in long-term evolutionary motion.
“…beyond the Beauty that is predicated of various forms and relationships, there is a pure Transcendent Beauty, and this is a mode of the very Being of the SELF. This Beauty is not something that is beautiful. It is Self-existent and casts its luster upon all things… Ecstasy is pure Beauty, as well as pure Joy and Knowledge.”
— Pathways Through to Space, Franklin Merrell-Wolff
We think and invest in symbols. The investment serves for a time. But a symbol set can only embody so much light and fire. Then, as we notice its inadequacies, the symbol begins to die. Having served us for a time, the language runs its course and we find ourselves ready to move on. Discarding thoughts and their corresponding symbols, we pass to new thought and subtler use of the mind. Some hold their symbol set closely, as if to squeeze every bit of life from it. For others, a set of symbols or words quickly becomes oppressive and must be changed more frequently. When to keep and when to discard and move on, is individual.
Otherwise considered, there are at least two ways to deal with vague, ambiguous, or troublesome words. One is to drop them in favor of more precise and fitting language. The other is to redeem them, resurrect them, dust them off, polish them until they shine and are again serviceable. While most any word can be redeemed, the question often is, in a given case, is it worth the effort? Redemption is sometimes more work and less effective than the adoption of a new verbal body for our thoughts.