Words, Words, Words

Authored or posted by | June 15, 2017
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Picture of words

By William Page, author of BePresentFirst.com

According to the Kabbalists the twenty-two letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet are the building blocks of the universe. God manipulated these letters (into words) to create everything in the physical universe. As a result the Jewish mystic believes that he can imitate God by, first, having the proper intention and, then, by pronouncing specific words from ancient Hebrew. It is even said that each letter is ruled by an angel that represents one of the twenty-two virtues (or qualities) of the Almighty, and that these angels can work wonders for the Kabbalist who knows the secrets to using these letters to form words and prayers.

In the Christian tradition the Gospel of John, generally considered to be the most profound and mystical New Testament text, begins:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

But then there were the Greek sophists, the manipulators of language for sport and profit, the forerunners of the modern lawyer and politician. Plato describes a few of them haranguing Socrates. Though they never outshine Socrates, they try, through the use of elaborate and specious reasoning, to convince him of their soulless arguments. Through their help, rhetoric, the art of using language effectively and persuasively, was born, and so language became, not a means to understanding other people and the universe, but an art to convince others of any argument that profited the speaker, whether it be true or not. In their hands words, which were once symbolic or poetic, became the prosaic building blocks of argument, logic, and law.

And then two thousand years later, we get this from Shakespeare:

POLONIUS: What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET: Words, words, words.
POLONIUS: What is the matter, my lord?
HAMLET: Between who?
LORD POLONIUS: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
HAMLET: Slanders, sir.
~ Hamlet

In our age the use of words is often thought of with suspicion because of the devious practices of politicians, advertisers, lawyers, critics, psychiatrists, and journalists, who, like the sophists, use words to try to manipulate people. They want our money, or our vote, or just our attention.

Forty years ago it was common to set words in opposition to pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. How often did we hear that as children? But can it be said anymore that a picture or a video is inherently more truthful? Certainly the modern sophists, particularly the advertisers and politicians, use altered pictures and videos to try to manipulate the public into believing in their lies and half-truths. These days a few garbled facts, a large dose of opinion, pictures, and video are all mixed together like a recipe, not to inform people or to make them think, but to make them feel something, whether it be patriotism, or anger, or the desire to buy a new car.

It may take a thousand words to describe a picture, but a picture can’t tell you how often to water your plants or explain that, not only the pictures, but the objects that surround you may not be a final reality. Much of our experience, our wisdom, is passed down through language. And the ability to use language is one of the capacities that give humans such an advantage over animals, like dogs or horses, who clearly have feelings.

In the same way that words are set in opposition to pictures, feelings in our time are set against intelligence. The word ‘emotional’ has come to mean ‘not intellectual,’ and the word ‘intellectual’ has come to mean ‘unemotional.’ The subtext of ‘He’s so intellectual,’ is ‘He’s cold and passionless;’ and the subtext of ‘She’s emotional,’ is ‘She’s not very bright.’

It has often seemed to me that this kind of thinking, of opposing one quality with another, is flawed. Why can’t we instead begin to think in terms of cultivating both capacities and using each in its proper sphere? And why not combine the two? Why not intelligent emotion or thinking that serves the heart?

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused.
~ Shakespeare (Hamlet)

We tend to think of emotion as something we don’t control (It’s the way I feel!) and of thinking as something that takes effort, like studying for a test or figuring out a problem. But any actor worth his salt will tell you that emotions can not only be represented, but also stimulated and felt. Sometimes I think that this is why actors tend to be a little crazy in their personal lives; at some level they know, from experience, that they are not their emotions. Instinctively we all know this. Music, for instance, is a great stimulator of emotion. If we want to feel angry, we put on an angry song; if we want to feel sentimental, we put on a love song. But doesn’t this tell us something important about ourselves? Doesn’t it tell us that if we don’t like the way we feel, we can change it?

Emotions everybody has; intellect is rare; and art is difficult. ~ Goethe

In the work  of conscious evolution thoughts (or steward) and feelings are mixed together with inner exercises to form triads. These triads, when employed intentionally, have the power to create a higher state of consciousness. For instance we can say that thought (first force) acting on or controlling emotion (second force) can result in presence (third force). This simple triad is in essence a formula for the working of higher centers. But really all we are saying here is that if you use your mind to transform your negative (or positive) emotions the end result will be a state of presence. There are other triads for this kind of inner work; some don’t involve thought or words at all. Eventfully the role the mind plays in the creation of consciousness is taken over by will.

When trying to be present, it is sometimes helpful to keep your thoughts (the words in your head) down, especially at the beginning. It’s very relaxing to be present without thoughts. Thinking too often means becoming oblivious to your surroundings. When your thoughts take precedence, the room where you are sitting tends to fade from your attention. When you read a novel, it is not uncommon to lose yourself in the story. You might even say that is the point: you want to escape; it helps you relax. But really what you are doing is not escaping the present, but escaping thoughts or concerns that you find stressful. You replace one set of thoughts—about your work, about not having enough money, about your relationships—with a story about a detective or a man in love. In trying to solve their problems, you forget about your problems for a while. That’s why you feel refreshed afterwards.

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Category: Consciousness, Esoteric & Occult (Hidden) Knowledge

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