Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Is a Word?

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.”
--Daniel Boorstin

“This is a tree,” you say, as you look at the hard, barky object with branchy protrusions and leafy growths.

Or perhaps you see the tree and tell someone about it later: “Today I saw a tree.”

To which your friend sarcastically replies: “Cool story, Brah.”

For indeed, all either of you perceive is a hard, barky object with branchy protrusions and leafy growths. All either of you perceive is a concretized illustration of a word as defined in your mind. Even should you look at it up close and touch it, still the regard is about the same: you perceive a hard, barky object with branchy protrusions and leafy growths.

This occurs to you and most everyone else because we’ve become so mentally fixated. We’ve come to define the whole of things by their mere name, appearance, and, for some, a scientific description of their workings. Ah, yes, a tree. I know what a tree is. There’s one in my back yard and I studied them in high school.

And so we go on the rest of our lives “knowing” what a tree is.

Not really, of course, because what is tree?

Tree is a word. It’s a word that triggers mental imagery and description; it’s a word that evokes past experience to define what is right now. And so real does it seem to us that we become fooled—that is, we fool ourselves—into believing that we “know” something of which we really don’t know anything about.

Which is both ignorance and a very subtle form of arrogance: Believing something is what it is not, perhaps even “knowing” it.

A word is just a word, you see. It is an arbitrary sound or combination of sounds when spoken and an arbitrary set of dashes and dots and curves when written. All of which have been agreed upon as “true” for a billion and a half different “sound sets” yet none really meaning anything in the end; or to your Bengali- and Swedish-speaking neighbors if you speak English.

Similar to Michael Brown’s sentiments in his book Alchemy of the Heart, we spell words, which act like magic in the mind, making “real” what is not. By the nature of belief and “knowing,” “spelling” causes us to forfeit our ability to actually see what is real.

A tree. A cow. A human. A house. None of these things are words. Words are naught but indicators or signposts easefully allowing for the non-telepathic transmittance of information from one source to another. To think we know something by any mere word and its scientific kerfuffle as the sum of what a thing is is foolhardy.

Words are dead.

What any word signifies is alive. What a word points to is now; it has a life cycle and is active within and without itself at both overt and indiscernible levels. To those with an ability for sensing the subtle, that to which a word points may be seen as burning with an internal light or perhaps as interacting energetically with the life that comes near to it. Have you never wondered why newborns seem to forever be looking with such fixed glances at some of the most non-descript of places? Do you suppose maybe they see what we grown-ups—we "a-dolts"—have lost...

The human intellect is of great importance. Evolution or the galactic geneticists or God or who/whatever planted us here would not have designed us without it did it not offer us something critical. However, it’s not the end of who we are as we’ve come to behave like. For by its nature the intellect makes death through definition, having no capacity for the abstract, for a life in constant flux. Without the abstract—the wordless, undefined perception of what is, now—there is no life. Perception remains dimensional, defined, and, well, damned.

But life is fuzzy and free, because life is alive.

Just like you. Just like me. Just like tree.

Which is to say then that, in totality, what is real cannot be explained by a word or any set thereof.

For, indeed, reality is an "experience of the mindless."

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