Thursday, July 14, 2011

Neti, Neti: Language from Beyond the Self

"The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you. In this way, cleverness may be gained, but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity, and aliveness. They are concealed in the still gap between perception and the interpretation. Of course we have to use words and thoughts. They have their own beauty - but do we need to be imprisoned by them."

The great existential battle is to rise above self-consciousness, and to rid our being of the constant, conditioned inner narrative of the ego. It is this undammed "stream of consciousness" that carries us through an entire lifetime unaware that our real being lies beyond words.

 "Neti, neti, neti," goes the Sanskrit chant. "Not this, not this, not this." How, after all, can words possibly describe the ineffable? Spiritual teachers have always taught that the Ultimate is beyond description, and that the incessant voice of the ego is what separates us from the divine. Even when we voice the words in our mind that describe the Ultimate, our words pass like a net through barren waters - catching nothing. "Not this, not this, not this," we realize.
"Knowledge born of the intellect am I not. By nature Truth eternal am I. I am perpetual immutability. Neither formless nor with form, described by the Vedas as "Not this, not this," free from separation and unity, the true Self reigns supreme."
-- Avadhut Gita I:49-50 --
"When the ocean is searching for you," Rumi says, "don't walk to the language-river. Listen to the ocean, and bring your talky business to an end."

"There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.

In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes."
-- "The Essential Rumi" --
(Translations by Coleman Barks)

No comments: