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The Nature of Consciousness 3: Language and Reality

Do you ever feel like there is a gap, or a disconnect, between what goes on in your mind and what happens out in the real world? Do you see yourself and the world one way, but then realize others see you and the world completely different? Of course you do. There is a game being played here, and guess what, you are playing it. You play it every time you substitute a symbol for a reality.

What does it mean to substitute a symbol for a reality? Reality apparently is not as exciting as symbols. Take an example: you’re at a party and everyone is having a good time. And yet it is somehow spoiled unless someone takes 300 pictures at the party (a video would be even better). But that’s not enough unless the pictures are posted on Facebook for others to see. And yet that too is not as exciting as people’s comments on the pictures. See where I’m going with this? In our minds, the symbol has greater importance than the reality. In this case, the posts, pictures, and comments mean more to us than actually being present at the party.

We mistake symbols for our reality, so it is no wonder everyone is completely confused. Why? Because everyone sees symbols differently. What we often do not see is that this exact thing happens with the language that we speak. In this case, we substitute words and images for our reality. Can you get wet in the word ‘water?’ Of course not. Can you buy your new iPhone 5 with the word ‘money?’ That would be great, but it’s not going to happen. Can you have sex with a fake woman? Ok don’t answer that one.

We often use a word or an idea to substitute for real understanding, and this is far more common than you think. Take a word like ‘nationalism.’ This word means many things to many people, but it is only a word; a sound. And while you might think that it’s harmless that everyone should see it in a different way, keep in mind people have died for such things as ‘nationalism.’ Worth it?

Take any word you’d like, and take 100 people, and you will have 100 understandings for that word. But the attempt to explain a reality with words is actually non-sense! We use words to describe patterns in nature (mysteries), but there are no ‘things’ in nature. We do not understand a thing just by labeling it with a word, that is only a placeholder for understanding. For example, do you know who you are, really, just by saying your name? Do you know what a mountain really is, its inner and outer natures, just by saying the word ‘mountain?’ Of course not, and yet so much of our behavior is taken for granted in this regard.

We cannot say what reality is, because it isn’t words. The pictures are not the party, you can’t live it through images and comments. You must be there, fully, and breathe in your own mystery, even if no one takes a picture of it. The ‘real world’ people always seem to summon when they have something heavy to say, is not what goes on in your mind, but something different entirely. You have to look again, in a different way. A new way.

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