Constantly as we go forward into so much that’s new, we’ll probably encounter a problem much like I’m having at this moment.
We’ll be talking about new things and the very structure and process of language will stand in our way.
I posted an article a long time ago about how Benjamin Lee Whorf, responsible for the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis on linguistic relativity that so shook up anthropology in its day, started his working career as a fire prevention engineer. And what he saw there was how many fires were started because the way people described things led to illusion and confusion.
An oil drum was considered to be “empty” but was really full of fumes, as the man who threw his match into it discovered when it burst into flames. A switch on the wall was not a “light switch” but the switch to a cone heater as the man who threw his coat over it discovered when his coat caught on fire.
Whorf realized that how we see something is often determined by the words we use to describe it, not by the thing itself. Not “believing is seeing” so much as “describing is seeing.”
We talk about manifesting the divine qualities or incorporating the divine qualities but that too, as far as I can see, sets up an expectation that does not relate to the actual reality. But it does cater to the way we use language.
In the first place, I don’t see the divine qualities as “manifesting” or being “incorporated.” In the second place, what I’m aware of is not qualities, but the thing itself.
I’m sitting in this moment immersed in love. I cannot say that love is a quality. Love is a thing-unto-itself, so to speak … and “so to speak” says a lot. Because I’m having trouble so-to-speaking about it.
If I were Benjamin Lee Whorf, I’d throw away the whole manner we’re speaking about it and discuss it in a new way, more suited to how it appears for me. I would say that I am at this moment love, not that I’ve “embraced” or “incorporated” a “quality.” All that is too objective for something that is decidedly subjective and partial for something that is all-encompassing.
The experience of love is far too intimate for me to say that I “have” love or I “manifest” love. Who I am is love and who I was before noticing this love which fills me was another me altogether. Even though this too is not an adequate way of speaking about it, there’s no other way I can see at the moment of speaking about it.
It’s like the difference between being warm and cold. I am warm. I am cold. Before I experienced this love that fills me up, and allow me to correlate it with being “warm,” I was cold. I was the absence of love and whatever was in that space when love was absent. But now I am warmth/love and, with this experience, comes a knowing that this love that I am is a far deeper me than whatever was previously there. Whatever it was.
I notice a thrown tendency to want to retreat back into the comfort of speaking in ways we’re more used to. It feels awkward being out here on the skinny branches speaking in ways that more accurately reflect what’s transpiring but are unfamiliar.
The moment I attempt to define love, it ceases to be. If I want to be love or to be in love, then I have to give up trying to fit it into our repertoire of linguistic symbols. There’s a basic choice I face: whether to be what I am or whether to talk about it and not be it. I prefer to be it, but, by making that choice, I make it difficult to communicate.
Nevertheless love is what I am. It isn’t something so partial or packageable or divisible as a quality. It isn’t divisible at all and language doesn’t do it justice.
I’m not sure I’m saying this as well as I might but that’s what happens when we let go of being loyal to our word choices and shift allegiance to reality. There is definitely a tradeoff between just saying it as it appears and trusting that what I say communicates and working everything out but being very far away from the thing-in-itself.
What I’ve said about love could be said about truth or courage or any other “divine quality.” But we have no other phrase that I’m aware of that would stand in for the usefulness of the words “divine qualities.” I feel obliged to continue to use them so as to be able to communicate but only under duress. The words used don’t indicate the thing being referred to, except as a useful pointer.
Love itself cannot be made partial, packaged, or divided into bits and aspects. It can only be sensed, experienced or felt and accepted whole and as it is.