The Word is Not the Thing | Meditative Diaries



The Word is Not the Thing

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So what exactly are the words? How do the words affect the way we perceive things? Why do we give such extraordinary importance to words? Probably if we delve into the nature of words it would be possible to tackle several communication issues and neurotic behaviors. So let’s investigate together.

Would we agree that words are just symbols? The word tree is just a symbol for the actual tree, a symbol that was formed in the past to describe the tree. We all agree on that.. which makes it necessary when two people investigate together to make sure that they have the same coding, that they use the same symbol for the same thing. Or else communication is inevitable. But we need to go further! The word tree is never the tree. It’s only an abstraction. The tree is such an alive entity to reduce it to just a word. Is it clear? If we fully understand this important point we will probably stop having such a superficial connection to the world..

What happens when i see a tree? The word “tree” immediately appears in my mind even if i don’t speak this word. When i see a cloud the word is there again.. though this probably sounds natural, i feel that it makes it difficult to perceive the actual cloud, the actual tree. It’s an obstacle, a distorting mirror through which we see the world.

So a logical questions arises: Is it possible to see a tree and the word “tree” to be totally absent, not to appear! No by means of effort, not to try to avoid the formation of the word, but the word is just not formed at all. Once this happens, the distorting mirror is destroyed and perception of the actual tree is possible. We can try it, experiment with ourselves and see if this is possible.

tree of duality

How to use words?

So when does it make sense to use the words? I feel to use the words in order to communicate in the physical world is necessary. So when someone asks me “Give me details on how to go to this beach”, i use words to explain. This makes sense, there is nothing neurotic on that.

But in the psychological field things are quite different. When someone says “Fear is an imaginary entity, why are you still afraid”, there is a danger that we are trapped in words. We listen to this statement and we intellectually understand it so we create a concept which is: “I shouldn’t be afraid, i need to stop feeling afraid, because fear is imaginary”. Though the message’s carrier expresses something that makes sense, if we stay on the level of the words, of the intellect, of the concepts, if we don’t penetrate deeper, if we don’t perceive that the word is not the thing, the description is never the described, we start reacting according to neurotic, fictitious concepts. To put it differently, the words are by nature dualistic, as far as the psychological field is concerned. There is only fear (this is what is) and once we only perceive it intellectually, we create an imaginary opposite of non-fear. Are we aware of the fact that once an opposite is created (non-fear) we invite division, conflict in our house? The struggle to move from what is (fear) to what should be (non fear) has already started.

wordsCan words communicate something deeper?

Most of us have experienced a weird situation when words create a deep feeling which has nothing to do with emotions created by thoughts. I’ve read Hesse’s Siddharta, Robert Fisher’s The Knight in a rusty armor, watched Krishnamurti using words to communicate his insights and something that can’t be described with words takes place. Though I can’t explain how words promote an essential non verbal understanding/feeling I say it’s possible. And it gets quite obvious that struggling to intellectually perceive/understand words necessary leads to division and conflict.

A very interesting insight appears.. once the depth listens, once there is direct perception that the word is not the thing, the words are a useful tool. And once we are trapped in intellectual understanding of what is communicated by means of words, we will necessarily suffer from division and conflict, inner and outer.

Please examine that, find on your own!



Jorge Kapa

The speaker is never important but you may examine the message, if you wish

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