Our language is based upon symbols that we assign agreed upon meaning to. The rules and agreements of language do not translate from one culture to the next. A word we say in English will have little meaning to someone from Greece or Japan, hence the phrase: "It's all Greek to me!"
Our words are used to describe our experiences and allow us to convey our feelings, emotions, complex messages, and stories. However, our words are just symbols and do not alway accurately describe the details of our experiences. For example, take the word tree. I can relay my experience to someone by saying: "Today I walked by a beautiful tree." They would understand what I was saying, but the words I used would not convey my exact experience. Someone may have imagined I walked by a maple tree, another person may have pictured a pine tree, a third person may have imagined a palm tree. To me, the phrase "words fail me," expresses the utter incompetence of words to communicate experiences. Our experiences are so rich that in most cases our words can not describe them fully. This idea is what inspired me to paint the blue painting above that says red in the lower right corner in yellow paint.
This leads me to my next topic, the semantics of God and the stories used by religions to convey God. From the earliest of times people have used stories as a tool to teach moral lessons. The language and the setting of the story are based upon the familiar culture of where that story originated. Stories may convey the same moral meaning, but depending on where you live in the world, differ in the language used, as well as the characters and settings described. I find that religions often get caught up in the semantics and whose story is correct instead of looking deeper to the meaning of the story. We often lose sight of the forest for the trees. It is so sad to me that we have created wars over man's ego in the name of God or love. We seem to have missed the point. Gandhi once said, "God has no religion". I love this quote. Lets take man's ego and fears out of the equation and try to go back to the basics. There are many pathways to the summit of a mountain. No matter which path you choose, once you get to the top, the view is the same.
Numerous people, including myself for many years, have shied away from using the word God. Religion has assigned so many meanings and personifications to the word God. These definitions may not align with our own beliefs. But lets remember not to throw the baby out with the bath water here. We forget that God is just a word symbol that describes an experience or feeling or aspect of life. To some people God may represent an old man with a white beard who lives up in the clouds. To others God may represent Mother Earth or the feeling of Love. There are many words that can be used describe the feeling of God such as Source, Creator, The Divine, All Knowing Intelligence, Love, Peace, Spirit, Joy..... the list goes on.
I write about this topic because you may hear me drop the word God in class and I know it can be a sensitive word. To me God is a feeling of peace, relaxation, connection and love. Yoga is not associated with a religion. It is a tool to help us feel a more authentic connection with ourselves. It teaches us how to slow down, relax, and be at peace. We learn how to be gentle with ourselves by becoming more aware.
I'm interested to see how you feel about what I wrote today. Are you comfortable using the word God? What words do you use to portray the feeling of God? Please share your comments below.
Peace and Love,