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Ram Dass wrote:
The below is from the opening quote in In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.
If I could sing or play an instrument for you, I would sing and play an instrument for you.
If I could dance for you, I would dance for you.
If I could paint for you, I would paint for you.
But my thing is words.
The problem about words is you may listen to them, and that would be a mistake. For all I am doing is painting with words, and the message that is being sent is non-verbal.
For, in fact, I am not going to say anything that you don’t know already.
The perplexing problem is, you don’t know you know.
Priyankan Nayak wrote: ↑January 22nd, 2024, 4:07 am
I didn't quite understand the Opening quote by Ram Dass as a whole. "The problem about words is you may listen to them, and that would be a mistake". A mistake is something that correlates to an error, a misunderstanding, or a misconception. How come listening to words is a mistake?
Hi, Priyankan Nayak
Ram Dass is not
saying that listening to words is a mistake.
Instead, he is saying that listening to his words that follow (and taking them at face value) would be a mistake.
In analogy, it's analogous to me saying, "drinking this cup of tea would be a mistake." You'd indeed have misunderstood if you then replied, "How come drinking tea is a mistake?" I didn't say drinking tea is a mistake; I said drinking this cup
of tea would be a mistake."
He's essentially saying that he's about to talk about that which is indescribable
, at least indescribable using literal face-value non-mythological terms
that aren't fraught with arbitrary semantics that can lead to all sorts of pseudo-disagreements and seeming contradictions. That kind of communication is an art, and those arbitrary semantic decisions are your brush strokes. Art communicates what literal words cannot, and it is tricky to make art that is truly understood as intended.
Roughly speaking, he's also partly just advising you to use the Philosophical Principle of Charity
and to pay deep close attention to what is meant by what is said rather than how it happens to be worded. Especially when it comes to talking about consciousness (a.k.a. spirituality), there's multiple different ways to phrase the same meaning and those different phrasing can at least seem to contradict. For example, some people use the word "self" to refer to what my book calls "the false self" or "the unreal you", and other people use the word "self" to refer to what my book calls "your true self" or "the real you". One person might say that they believe the self doesn't really exist, and that humans don't actually have a real self, and a second person might seem to disagree by saying the exact opposite in words: That the self does exist and that all humans have a self. If we make the mistake of going by their words, rather than focusing on the non-verbal meaning, then we would think they disagree. However, I don't make that mistake that Ram Dass warns us about, and so I would easily agree with both of them. It's a semantic choice of mythology or metaphor. I can say the same thing in meaning using very different words and mythology and mythological. I can say it in a way that would be more understandable to Christians, and then a way that would be more understandable to Buddhists, and then a way that would be more understandable to atheists, and then a way that would be more understandable to macho men, and then a way that would be very understandable to ultra-feminine women, and then a way would be more understandable to boomers, and then a way that would be more understandable to some ultra-tech-savvy teenager, and yet I would--if you usefully forget or disregard the words
--really be saying the same thing just with different seemingly contradictory words.
That's an important preface especially when it comes to showing how different religions can say or teach the same thing using very different wordings and mythologies. If you focus too much on the finger that points, you lose sight of what it's pointing at. You can have 100 different religions or such all worshiping a specific finger, and hating and thinking they disagree with those who worship a different finger, when all 100 fingers are actually pointing at the same thing. Words are fingers. Very different words can point to the same thing, and no words are that thing, even though that thing may be the most important and valuable and meaningful thing in the whole universe.
In short, he's saying, listen to my meaning, not my words
Eckhart Aurelius Hughes
In addition to having authored his book, In It Together, Eckhart Aurelius Hughes (a.k.a. Scott) runs a mentoring program, with a free option, that guarantees success. Success is guaranteed for anyone who follows the program.