Friday, 28 December 2012

Instead of enquiring deeply into what precisely is wrong with the way we think, we tend to be more inclined to ask what is wrong with the things we think about.

Language was invented for the purpose of lying’, this is a quotation from R D Laing.  Language can be thought of as imagination, all words are without meaning other than the meaning we assign them. The act of assigning meaning to words involves the use of imagination. The word did not exist until we were able to imagine that it did. There is no limit to the number of words we can imagine and no limit to the meaning we assign to words. When we assign meaning to a word this meaning has power so long as we all hold and imagine the same meaning. There are some words that are reasonably straight - forward and that most of us agree with as to the meaning. There are other words such as god, love, truth and reality where it is not so easy for us to agree on the meaning. We can agree on the general meaning of a word yet there may still be great latitude between the meaning we each may hold. The world of language is also the world of thought. We each of us live in a world of our own thoughts. Each thought is given a particular meaning and is also assigned a certain degree of belief. This can be clearly seen if we observe the verbal interactions between people. We can observe the effect of words on each individual, we can observe words that cause us to love or to hate, words that make us angry or sad and words that can make us laugh or cry or even words that fill us with fear. If we observe carefully we can also see that words that make one person angry do not necessarily have the same effect on another person. This tells us that the meaning that we each assign to words can be very different. A word such as 'death' depending on the meaning given to it may cause some to live their lives with a secret fear. Where there is fear there is imagination and without imagination there can be no fear. What is it we may imagine that can cause us to feel fear? It seems that the answer to this question is ‘almost anything’. Many think that fear is natural and even necessary, while this is understandable it is also untrue. We are afraid for one reason only and that is that we believe in something that is not true and this can be thought of as an inefficient use of imagination. Suffering is always caused by imagination. The process of learning a language begins from the moment we are born. From the beginning we hear the voices and the language of our parents or our siblings or extended family. In time this process is developed, we go to school and are taught not just to speak but to write what we hear. At school we also begin to speak to our peers as well as hear what they have to say. Ultimately we learn language from everyone we may come in contact with. In all of these interactions we learn more than just language we also learn about the way words are used and the emotions that may be injected into them. Some of what we hear is truthful and some is less so. The fears held by our parents can very easily be transmitted through the language our parents use but also through their behaviour. If a mother or father are overly fearful themselves this will be picked up and ingested by the child without ever knowing what has happened. Parents will pass on to their children all that was passed on to them from their parents and again they will not be aware of what has been passed on. It is not possible to assign blame to anyone because no one can be held responsible for what was unknowingly passed on. We do not choose our parents or our language but the part of us I call the ego is the result of all our experiences and without exception we will have ingested much in terms of language and meaning that is not true. The chances of solving this problem are very slim mostly because we are surrounded by others who no matter how learned they may be have experienced a similar version of what we experienced. For most this problem will not be apparent until the degree of suffering they experience reaches a certain level. Suffering always tells us that there is something wrong with the way we think about things. Instead of enquiring deeply into what precisely is wrong with the way we think, we tend to be more inclined to ask what is wrong with the things we think about. We do this because it is easier, but no matter how easy something is it is worthless if it does not work. 

1 comment:

  1. Ray, maybe relevant to this topic is the manipulation of language and culture by governments and other controlling agencies other than our parents. Since language creates our reality to great degree, it is not a gateway that governing forces would leave unguarded. A good video on this can be found here: