Posts Tagged ‘Words’

Reality beyond words

January 21, 2017

That is a tree.

When teaching a child, don’t say “That is.” Instead say “That is called.”

That is called a tree.

When you say “that is” you confuse the word with the reality, which is infinitely deeper.

Don’t let the child slip away at an early age into the conceptual realm, believing exclusively in words.

There comes a time when a child demands to be fed words and concepts: What’s that? At that stage they want concepts, words.

What’s that? asks the child.

That’s a tree responds the adult.

That’s a flower. That’s a car. That’s a table. That’s a …

Don’t say “that is.” Instead, say “that is called.”

If you say “that is” the child will confuse the word with the reality, which is infinitely deeper.

By saying “that is” the child loses touch with the actual, direct experience of reality. And as the child accumulates words, the child begins to believe that when he/she says “this is a tree” that’s all there is to know about the tree. Later, the child might take a biology class and get a few more names to attach to the tree, or the names of different trees. Immediately, the depth of the tree recedes and is replaced by a relatively dead thought form, “tree.” That’s how language deadens aliveness. When you teach a child language, the child should stay in touch with the actual thing. So you should say “It is called” not “It is” and encourage the child to continue to look, to touch, to listen. Look there, touch, listen. Then everything isn’t obscured with words. Stay with the reality. Some of the direct experience remains with the child.

For most of us adults, we have been deadened by words. It is only later in life, after much shaking up that we break out of this and we start living again.

Whenever you teach the child, help him/her to realize there is more beyond the words. There is reality beyond the words.

You are not John. John is the name we have given you. You are not your name. It’s just a name.

Eckhart Tolle

The power of a beautiful question

April 10, 2016

The thing about the past is it’s not the past. It’s right in this room, in this conversation.

As a child, I had powerful experiences with poetry, where I felt literally abducted (taken away) by poetry; just like a hawk had come down and taken me away in its claws and carried me off.

I remember reading poetry as a child and thinking: this is language written by adults who have not forgotten the primary visions and insights of childhood.

I left science (as a Naturalist in the Galapagos Islands) and went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences I had in Galapagos. Science rightly is always trying to remove the “I” but I was really interested in the way the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos I was in deeply attentive states, hour after hour watching animals and birds and landscapes. I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had – inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs – but rather my identity actually depended on how much attention I paid to things other than myself. As my attention deepened, it broadened my own sense of presence. I began to realize that the only things that are real are at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you. Whatever you desire of the world will not come to pass exactly as you like it. But at the same time, whatever the world desires of you will also not come to pass. What actually occurs is at this meeting, this frontier.

David Whyte (poet, philosopher)