It is easy to forget that words are not reality. They can be shaped and formed like clay, where reality exists outside of our control.
When I think of what words are, I keep remembering the line from the Tao Te Ching (Way Integrity Classic) which could be translated as, “The names that can be named are not the eternal name, The name possible to express runs counter to the constant name.” or another translation, “Names can be named, but not the eternal name.”.
Words are merely symbols (names) we have created for things we see and feel. We all know there is a reality that exists beyond the scope of words and other symbols. That is what science, religion, love, politics, and all the rest of our life is about; searching for that reality and trying to draw a more accurate picture of what that reality, so we can make ourselves closer to it. Can we be blamed for confusing the symbols of reality, for reality itself.
Words lack precision. No matter how much we try to define them and limit their usage, they get away and create their own usage. We forget they are only tools to be used to exchange ideas and feelings. They have no shape, meaning or reality on their own, they only gain meaning through usage. Words can not confine us or define us. They are fragile and amorphous things. The same word will often mean a dozen different things depending on who is hearing that word, who is using that word or how someone pronounces a word.
In this section I explore a few different words, their current usage and try to strip away some of the many layers of reflexive usage.