One day, my son found a ruffled feather. He loved it and decided it was a treasure. He carefully planted it in a pot by our front door, for reasons all his own.
Yet… in expressing this tiny gem of my life, I can’t communicate to you the upwelling of fondness in my chest when I see the feather. I can’t hope to communicate his tenderness with the feather, or the way it catches the porch light, or even fully to articulate how that feather is a boundary of a childhood realm that is vast, mysterious, and joyful. Under all words, there’s a gleam of light in the feather I can’t write down.
Words can never be more than a pointed finger. They’re magical and we’re all wizards, painting each others’ minds and putting lenses over experience – syndicating movies and images from one artificial mental framework to another. Yet, for all that, the scenes and images we communicate are only ideas.
And ideas are not the truth of anything. Truth is inexpressible; it’s under all words.
Because awareness is a view of reality free from ideas and judgments, it is clearly impossible to define and write down what it reveals. Anything which can be described is an idea, and I cannot make a positive statement about something- the real world- which is not an idea. . . . What is true and positive is too real and too living to be described, and to try to describe it is like putting red paint on a red rose.
The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts
Written words, images, and movies are enchantments that can only hint at the mystery, love, and grace of creation. Life contains all that joy, beauty, and happiness so many people seek futilely, endlessly, in these little stories we tell ourselves. We use the enchantment of language not only on each other, but on ourselves – as we set out to encounter ourselves in the world, we immediately begin translating all experiences into the stories we’re holding in our minds. All the treasure of heart is right there, with us, but we overlook it because it doesn’t fit our personal narrative.
Although you study biographies, watch inspiring videos, and follow the advice of the gurus in your field, you’ll never be “successful” just with that. If the “success” you think you want will arise in the field of your experience, you must work your way up the mountain following your own specific path – the one before you. Life is not a template or automatic process.
Although you can “acquire” all these makings of a happy life in the common narrative, you’ll never actually be happy until all the stories are dropped and you can simply bathe in gratitude for all these blessings and this grace you’ve been given. Life is fluid, all things arise and subside.
Although you can read about the path to enlightenment, Heaven, or whatever you wish to call it – you can’t read about it while walking it. The Kingdom is here and now, always. Life is in the little gap between the past and future.
Although you read the Scriptures and spiritual texts devoutly, you’ll never encounter God or find real faith there. For our God is a living god, here with us in immediate experience. Just as life arises from the ground of experience under all words, God arises from the ground of consciousness under all thoughts.
Love is with you always, my friends, but you miss it when you try to capture it in language. Love can’t be caught or held, only given and received.