Language affects our consciousness. And that rabbit hole can quickly become a problem because your reality will begin to be affected by the language you use. Language based on sentences composed of subject and predicate contains the hidden belief system that events or actions are caused by nouns or things. This is the beginning of your “I,” otherwise known as your ego. For example: Johnny walked to school.
The assumption here is that Johnny, an ego, a person, is causing an event (the walking). But who or what is Johnny? Is he a body? If so, what part of the body? A hand? Arms and legs? Organs? But then you realize that you cannot describe Johnny only as a body, because a body must have an environment. But the environment is also filled with innumerable things.
What I want you to consider is that in the real world, there are no ‘things’ at all! Alfred North Whitehead called this the principle of misplaced concreteness. “There is an error,” he writes, “but it is merely the accidental error of mistaking the abstract for the concrete.” This confuses people because most of us think the world is some kind of space inhabited by ‘things,’ when often those ‘things’ are merely abstractions in the mind. A ‘thing’ is only a system of measurement, like pounds, miles per hour, clicks, etc. But in nature, there are no ‘things.’ We break down the unknown world into a system of measurements to try to make sense of it. This has many uses. We can catch a fish, for example, if we assemble a net. So and so many knots this way, and so and so many knots that way, and we have a net. It can be measure and weighed. But this is also the birth of anxiety, because you will always question whether you calculated properly, or enough. But in any decision, the variables are infinite, and so you can never truly know if you’ve calculated enough.
Anxiety is born from your ego. Your ego is basically a troubleshooting mechanism, in cooperation with your senses, that detects possible threats in nature. So no wonder everyone is riddled with anxiety! But because there are no ‘things’ in nature (that is to say, separate events), this also means there is no ‘You’ or ‘I.’ It is an image that you created, aided by your education, environment, family, religion, and experience, which your whole life told you who you were. It exists only in our mind, and we fell for it.
In connection with this, there is a story about a man who came to a Zen Master that illustrates this point precisely. He says to the Zen master, “I want to pacify my mind.” The Master then replies, “Show me your mind,” to which the student replies, “Well when I look for my mind it is not there.” “There!” said the Master, “your mind is pacified.”
You are playing a game. And the game is in your mind. And that game tells you, that ‘you’ exist as a separate ‘thing.’ And because you believe that ‘you’ are separate from everything else, you develop alienation and anxiety, never sensing your relationship to your world. Our language is partly responsible for this, but we must not get trapped by words, or you will go further down a rabbit hole that has no end.