The study of human language is fascinating. Noam Chomsky is a professor of Linguistics at MIT and in general one of the most intelligent men alive at this time. I’m grateful for what I have learned from him. To understand how and why these practices in the Fully Alive Course work, it helps to have an intelligent understanding of human language.
All animal species have a language. It’s not just the human species. Here in Sedona, we are graced every night to hear the language of the coyotes. Most of us have heard the language of birds. Dogs, wolves, cats, whales and dolphins all have a language. But the language of animals is very different in one important aspect from the language of humans.
Animal language corresponds directly to something that is happening or present in the world. An ape makes a certain sound that relates to the fluttering of leaves that indicates the possibility of a predator. Other sounds relate to the presence of food, hunger or a physical desire to breed. All these sounds relate to something that actually is physically present. They correspond to reality. They correspond to life.
Human language is very different in this respect. Human language is abstract. It does not have that one-to-one correspondence to life. Human language doesn’t relate to life or reality. Human language relates to thoughts. It relates to a cognitive abstraction of reality.
Compared to other animal species, human language is incredibly complex. One abstract concept leads to another. And these concepts build upon each other in layers of complexity. From this complexity cultures are built. From this complexity identities are formed. When an ancient language is lost, the culture and identity are also lost. Language is incredibly important to us. Language is literally how we think and how we perceive the world and ourselves. And this is all wonderful and amazing, but there is a downside.
As our language increased in complexity and abstraction, it moved ever further from what it was supposed to represent. It moved ever further from life and truth. Because language is how we think and how we perceive the world, our experience of the world as it actually is was drastically reduced. As individuals and as a culture, we lost touch with the natural world. We lost touch with life. We exchanged the real world for a thought-world. No longer able to experience the world as it is, we believed they were the same. We believe the thought-world of our perceptions IS the real world.
Human language has given us so much. But it is also why we do not experience being Fully Alive. This is what the experiments in the Fully Alive Course help to remedy. We don’t lose language by doing these experiments. We simply put it aside for a time so we can directly experience something much more, something not limited by abstract concepts. We don’t lose anything. We gain life.
Don’t get attached to any words.
They are only stepping stones.”
– Eckhart Tolle