Words and language are empty. Really, they don’t have essence of their own. Language and words are a part of conditioning. Yes, it helps us in communication but it often becomes a problem and a burden. Let’s try to dissect words and conditioning.
Take for example, apple. What is an apple – A fruit? Nope. Just a 5-letter word. But as soon as you read the word – “apple”, you are reminded of a red colored fruit. There are green apples, but we recall red ones when we read “apple”, doesn’t seem fair? In a fraction of a second, our mind gives the result but let’s try to see the step by step process.
You have read the random scribbling “a-p-p-l-e”. Your brain first identifies that it belongs to Roman script which you are familiar with. You know how to read this. You know how to pronounce it. Now, somewhere in your mind there is an image of a red colored fruit, said to be rich in iron. From childhood, you have been taught to refer to it by the a combination of sound and letters – apple. What is the difference between a sound and a word. All words when spoken are a combination of sounds. When we associate these sounds with image of an object/process or anything, it has became a word. This is the framework of conditioning. Now just imagine a new system of meanings where the red fruit is referred by the word – “frog” and the small amphibian as “apple”. Then we would say, “I ate a frog!” and “Apples can live in water as well as on land!”. These sentences don’t mean anything on their own. Yet it is the system of language which gives them meaning. Suppose for me frog is fruit and I say, “I ate frog.” and for you frog means the animal, then you will misunderstand me. This is how people go on misunderstanding each other. What means something to me will not mean exactly same to you because of the differences in our experience of life.
Now let’s take dig a little deeper and see how can understanding this conditioning and trying to remove it help us in evolving spiritually.
Someone comes and calls a person “DOG”. Just 3-letters, 2 syllables, just that. And see how the person can explode. Even if he doesn’t lashes out or express much, he will remain agitated for a long time. The word dog is connected to the image of a particular animal with particular characteristics. Even though all dogs are different, yet all dogs are similar. Similarly all humans are different, and yet, all are similar. A black as well as a white dog is considered beautiful but a black human is considered ugly by most of the society, isn’t it. This is one part of conditioning and biased views. Let’s come back to our topic, no regressing.
The word “DOG” evokes a particular image and now the brain judges according to the social patterns, algorithms it has learnt over time. Some of which are –
- I am called an animal like dog, wolf, crow, donkey, etc – Not good, time to retaliate (which proves the other right).
- I am called an animal like lion, swan, etc – Aha! The other person is so good.
- I am called a demon, wicked, sinner, ugly – Not good. Different people will react differently. Someone may cry, “no, I am not.” Someone may get ready to fight.
- I am called a saint, wise, beautiful – Wow! He is so sweet.
Just like in a computer program, you put a particular code and get a particular result, you can put particular words in human machine and get particular results. This is – “MENTAL CONDITIONING”.
(On a different note, number 2 and 4 are sweet demon “मधु” and 1 and 3 are bitter demon “कैटभ”.)
Take both the opposite words together and stay even. In Gita, Krishna says
समत्वं योग उच्यते
Equanimity is called Yoga
These are the only words from gita which I remember from a long time. And just these 3 words have taught me so much. Call yourself a saint and a sinner, see what changes. Who’s getting affected? It’s ego which gets affected, which wants to cling to a good word and stay away from a bad word. And there’s a witness which doesn’t gets affected. This is what I have learnt from Shiva. He is worshiped by both Devas and Asuras, देवासुरनमस्कृतः. But he remains unaffected, Adiyogi remains even and thus is not a Deva but Mahadeva.
When I go to college, I am surrounded by people who use all kinds of obscene, obscure and filthy words you can imagine (I learned such abusive words around 5th-6th standard and dropped them around standard 9th-10th. On a side note, I have observed that people use such words to throw out their inner frustration. They don’t deserve hate, but just an opportunity to evolve). Each time they open mouth and converse, such words are a sure part of conversation, without fail. Then they also talk about web-series which are based on such content. Such words also fall in my ears and register. And there’s literally no way to escape.
Even if somehow I were to shut up my ears, their thoughts would come. Because this is how thoughts work. They get transferred without any medium in silence. Let me give you an example from my life. I once opened the fridge, looked at a 5-star, a thought crossed my mind of eating it, but I didn’t and closed the fridge. My sister who was around, came, opened the fridge and went on to eat it. She was just doing something else in kitchen and this was just a random thought. This is one of the many incidents which happen.
So, I hear all kinds of words, in all kinds of tones and they sometimes come across my mind in other parts of day too. And since I cannot escape, what’s the solution? Stay even. They have their own share of ignorance and I have my own share. I try to feel them as a manifestation of divine. Sometimes, it is a blurry feeling, but it’s beautiful. This is a lesson for me to walk amidst them with ease and remove mental conditioning, lesson of acceptance, respecting them for who they are, not judging them, not forming opinions, being mindful and spending my time amidst them just as Shiva lives between his Shiva-ganas.
And the way we behave outwards actually determines the way we behave inwards towards our such thoughts. If I try to fight, it will just become miserable, then I would keep fighting an invisible battle all day, draining my energy and not reaching anywhere. So, I have left fighting, I accept them – come on, I love you dear, it’s fine, no problem, I will see through it gracefully, gratefully.
Rise above words and then as you rise above words you will learn to play with them. A child can cry for toys but a grown up wouldn’t. Grow up so that the words become mere toys with which you play. I sometimes falter, but still, try to loosen the grip of words and conditioning.
Take the word “DOG”, invert the letters and it becomes, “GOD”! Still 3 letters and 2 syllables. Ugly/Beautiful – Stay even. Wise/Ignorant – Stay even. Success/Failure – Stay even. Don’t get too attached to the words. I don’t mean that you don’t work on yourself to improve yourself in some aspect. I just mean don’t judge, yourself or anyone. Don’t get stuck in words otherwise you will always remain confused. Use words as a tool and drop them when it’s not required. For example, walking in garden, no word is required to feel and acknowledge the love and beauty of nature.
Don’t take words too seriously but yes use them wisely. Even if you rise above words, remember, others are still trapped in it and can get hurt. So, be mindful.
Now I think these are too many words about words, so let’s end this post here. I hope this will help you in un-conditioning your mind and rising above words. So that, you play with words and the words don’t play with you!