“The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows. The shape changes but not the form; The more it moves, the more it yields. More words count less. Hold fast to the center.”
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 5
Perhaps in Oriental languages, arising as they do from a more yin orientation, more nuanced expression is possible. Yin holds to more of a gradient. It is smoother and less defined and divided than Yang. There are more characters in these alphabets and more words for concepts that we in the west tend to lump together under a coarser lexicon.
The esoteric and sacred finds more room for expression in this more precise form, and more room for the concepts because the cultures themselves embrace the esoteric and sacred. Nonetheless, there are things about which even these languages cannot adequately lend expression. When we in the west, and in particular, those of us who speak English attempt to speak of such things, we render them crude and profane. English arises from perhaps the most yang culture to ever walk the earth.
This isn’t to say it’s never possible to speak of the sacred or esoteric, many things can be discussed, but only in a space held for the purpose. It won’t be a casual conversation. Lacking context, something beautiful and mysterious may appear ugly and diseased. Such a gaffe is impossible to remedy. Thus caution is advised when sharing sacred or esoteric experience. Sacred space is created, held and when it is done, closed. “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.” This is an expression in many 12 step groups. It is essential for people in these meetings to be able to speak candidly, often about horrific, terrible or shameful things. They must feel they will not be judged, and in particular, that the information will not be repeated in any outside context, outside the sacred space. This is a relatively ordinary example of such space.
As to our experiences of and sharing of our sacred inner world, there are many concepts that rely upon direct experience to understand. Words can’t impart the experience and often the experience is so foreign to what most people have been through that it is impossible to convey in any meaningful way in words. Attempting to do so is foolhardy at best.
So there are some things about which we cannot speak. As consciousness expands, or a relationship deepens, or we find we have a common base of experience, then we can open a sacred space with an appropriate person, privately and attempt to speak about it. This may or may not ever happen. If it does not, we simply have to surrender our attachment to sharing that experience. Not because we don’t want to, not because we wish to keep it secret, but simply because we can’t share it without doing violence to either the information itself, the esoteric or sacred experience we are trying to communicate, or because the attempt will do violence to the recipient.
Much of the sacred and esoteric falls outside of most people’s belief systems. To burden them with something they aren’t open to and can’t incorporate with their existing understanding is an act of violence. They will not love you for it. It may serve your need to share its beauty, but they may only see ugliness. They may be offended, hurt or distraught. Better if in doubt, not to try.
In regards to a shared experience of the sacred or esoteric, often it is unnecessary and unproductive to speak of it. Two or more people connected during a profound moment are already in communication in a deep and nuanced way. Words can add little, if anything.
Language be it spoken or written, is always an abstraction of experience. It flattens, desiccates, thins and fades the experience, conveying only a pale shadow of the concrete, multidimensional, full sensory event. It is a shorthand, useful in it’s expedience, and because we can’t plug our brains into one another, amygdala to amygdala, to download the full richness of what we’ve lived. Yet when we are present in the moment with another, and fully open to them, we are already ‘plugged in’ to a rich flood of energy and data that rises and falls between us. We exchange ‘knowing glances,’ because we really do know. We may find ourselves ‘speechless,’ because speech can add nothing to the exchange. Such expressions do not arise by accident. They describe both the richness of wordless exchange, and the poverty of mere words.
Rather than surrender to your impulse to verbalize today, allow a breath or two, or three to insert themselves as you observe the richness of what is already moving between you and the other. Then ask yourself what your words would add to this moment.
This is one of the topics we explore in the Intimacy, Connection Healing Series, a workshop for all those in the healing professions. Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Yogis, Counselors, Social Workers, Nurses, Breath workers, Energy workers and anyone with an interest in connecting more powerfully to heal.
We explore the powerful connection that sources healing and arises naturally in all healing work. Florida CEs for LTMs, LCSW, LMFT, & LMHC. New York CEs for LMTs.
Join me for my first workshop in Costa Rica, at Living Forest Retreat Center November 11-17
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