I love words, I have always loved words, and I love words more and more with every passing day. I recall as a child how envious I felt watching my older sister learn to write new words, the visceral experience is still with me as I think of how she would create from letters that I did not understand, words to match images in her composition notebook. Of course I was learning with her then and when the day came that I was finally writing correlating words to images in my very own composition notebook the following year, rather than envy a new feeling emerged. The feeling of competition. This is the life of a younger sibling. Words fall together like puzzle pieces and the image they create tells the story of our lives. Without words and the stories they tell through their correlation of the images we conceptualize, understand, then relate about this experience, life itself would be, well, very different.
Being a lover of words I am also a lover of the dwelling places of words, stories, poems, plays, books, the library, and I also love to read. When asked what my favorite book is, I answer with mischievous snark, the Dictionary, as it is the home of all words and their meanings, from which, with skill in action, great writers produce literary works of genius that create a place for the reader to experience life from an altogether different tapestry of images, which may or may not change the way they see their own unique collage of life. I love words and the dictionary so much I have even studied the history of the dictionary and find the fact that it is a rather new to the scene of words fascinating, especially when considering the long-standing love affair between humans and words. However, in all my love for words I find myself still wanting. Perhaps I limit myself with my limited knowledge of language, yet I find some words just don’t cut it. Either they carry to much weight and therefor are misunderstood, misinterpreted, turn the listener or reader off, closing them to the vital grace of the gift of words, or they don’t carry enough, and in their simplicity a similar effect of no affect is reached.
Words like God and Love are two words that leave me in a state of great wanting. Short, single syllable simplicity that by no means covers the expanse of meaning attempted to be held in their basic form. Basic as they are, they also carry surprising weight, creating often times great aversion and misunderstanding, closing the proverbial door to that which they claim to open.
Earlier this year I was speaking with one of my cousins on the subject of love, and not just romantic love, but love in its most divine sense, the love that enhances all of this universe in pure desire for connection through expression and reflection. As I mused on the many aspects of the beauty of the diversity of divinity and divinities nature to be unconditional in its love for all expression and form, my cousin invited me to find a new word for my concept, expressing that in his experience he could not get around the conventional understanding of the word love. He found, like myself, its single syllable simplicity just wasn’t inviting him to perceive the concept I was trying to paint. I have yet to find another word that does my concept justice, other than ummm.
The easy out of this would be to call this concept God, and the word God, like the word love, has been used with such fervor to carry such incredibly strong belief systems over the history of humankind, that from my vantage point, it too does not serve.
Perhaps in other languages there are other words, more complex or even more simple words that cover these concepts with more clarity and less fragmentation, less possibility of loosing the attention of ones audience due to their aversion to an assortment of letters, syllables, and tones. I have yet to come across them.
As a teacher of yoga, a lover of philosophy, spirituality, and a broad concept of God and love, I return to this inner conflict with regularity. How do I talk about God, without talking about God? How do I talk about love without sounding like a new age, woo-woo, ungrounded, airy-fairy? How do I talk about spirituality without turning people off or sounding self-righteous? These are questions I ask myself daily.
Though I have been working at it for quite some time now, I relate I haven’t a simple answer for the answer changes with every circumstance. Being a lover of words has supported me along the journey enabling me to find a multitude of ways to convey my ideas of God and Love clearly and still ummm is not the most valuable substitute.
A few weeks back I went to a class where the teacher dropped the “G” bomb reading yoga sutra 2:45. I have been contemplating the significance of this event for me ever since. Today I conclude that sometimes the best way to handle these weighty words is to let go of the fear, hand over the concern, and let the feeling of the offering be carried beyond the words. This in essence is unconditioning the heart, excellent yoga, and the embodiment of the sutra that was offered in that poignant class.
Yoga Sutra 2:45
“By total surrender to God, Samadhi is attained.”
Samadhi Siddhir Isvarapranidhanat
By total surrender to what is, be it God, Love, or a weighty word, in all of its perfect diversity at this moment, without attachment to what has been or what is desired, spaciousness, ease and peace is attained.
Like learning from my sister as she learned to correlate pictures to words, I also learned from my teacher to hold fearless space for God and Love and that is surrender, and in the surrender dwells peace.
With Love, All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,