Nonduality Salon (/\)

Realization and (Common) Limitations of Language

by Gene Poole

Indeed, there seems to be a very generous allowance given to the assumption that a description, if accurate, somehow conveys the thing itself; if I accurately describe 'water', the reader would then be wet. Similarly, it is assumed that a person who has had an experience, should be able to describe the experience, in such a way as to convey the actual experience itself, to the reader.

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Realization and language

As frequently noted here and elsewhere, language (as 'we know it') generally or always falls short of the task of adequately describing certain states, events, perceptions, and reality.

An oft-noted example is the test of language, where it is asked to describe the taste of honey (or other comestible). Clearly, while the the sense of taste and the sense of meaning have a certain overlap, neither can substitute for the other.

The failure of language (as 'we know it') to accurately create an understandable roadmap to 'realization' or 'enlightenment' has been taken by some, as evidence that there is no 'realization' or 'enlightenment'; "what cannot be described, cannot be real" is an actual axiom of certain philosophies.

Indeed, there seems to be a very generous allowance given to the assumption that a description, if accurate, somehow conveys the thing itself; if I accurately describe 'water', the reader would then be wet. Similarly, it is assumed that a person who has had an experience, should be able to describe the experience, in such a way as to convey the actual experience itself, to the reader.

A distinction should be drawn between water and realization. Water is an object, realization is not an object. Yet, realization is 'objectified', and hence arises the demand for an 'accurate description', as though realization is a 'thing'.

Further, the common-enough assumption that 'people are things' (we have 'solid bodies' after all!) has led to an endless list of descriptors which supposedly apply to 'person'. What comes from this, is the goofy assumption that adding one 'thing' (realization) to another 'thing' ('person') equals a changed 'thing' (person 'after realization'), just like Paper + Flaming Match = Ash.

Has anyone ever accurately described 'person'? Without this first description, how is any modification (accomplished by realization) to be described? This being the case, we cannot or at least, do not, accurately describe 'person', and thus cannot (despite many attempts) describe 'realization'.

Most of the arguments which appear over and over in speech and print, have to do with the attempt to validate one description versus another. Indeed, a relatively new argument, is the one that states that 'there is no realization, there is no before and no after, there is no person'. This argument is meant to short-circuit all arguments, yet this argument itself, is built upon a bogus objectification of what is denied. As difficult as this latter-day argument may be to refute, it stands as its own refutation. " There is no 'is no' " is the truth implied, which is clearly self-cancelling, thus being no argument at all. Or if the argument is followed all the way though,
at the end of the chain of logic, we find that what is going on, is a disguised way of saying that 'only what is, is'.

Yet, if there is an 'is', there follows that there is an 'is not', which invalidates the implicit argument that "there is no "is no". If there is an 'is', the is can only stand in relation to its opposite; and if we can understand that 'what is not, is not', we can also understand that there cannot be an 'is':

"What is not is nothing. And nothing can stand on nothing; nothing is not ground, nothing can be supported by nothing. Nothing supports nothing. What is, is not supported by nothing. What is, being what is, does not need support."

Above, we may see the flaw inherent in the human tendency to objectify. The 'meaning of nothing' has not been learned, and hence 'nothing' is thrown about as though it were something. In truth, 'nothing' is a linguistic placeholder, as is 'zero' a numerical placeholder. We take great care to place the zero properly, because it is a vital part of how we live (by counting money accurately), but for the most part, the placeholder that is nothing, is used quite carelessly.

Now, as an exercise, say to yourself; "Realization is nothing". This would be an incorrect statement, for it is an argument founded on the existence of the opposite of nothing, which is 'something'. And realization is not a 'something'. But the realization of nothing, of the actual meaning of nothing, implies everything which nothing is not, which is everything. And so, now we can realize everything, by understanding nothing.

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