Tuesday, August 28, 2018

spiritual linguistics

Crossed my mind a bit ruefully last night:

When I first dipped a toe into the spiritual-adventure pool and made a commitment to finding out whether it was bullshit or not, I was not quite sure what to do or how to do it. My life up until that time (ca. age 33) had rested for its hypotheses on research and study: If you don't know, then bone up on the topic.

So, in the search for succor or release or enlightenment or peace or whatever I was after, I thought it was a good idea to model myself on the people who struck me as wise or well-tutored or convinced or blameless or something.... you know, the ones who elicited applause and whose books were read. And one of the very small things I might do is learn the language that such wise men spoke or could read.

At first, I imagined my spiritual/holiness quotient might rise if I learned some Sanskrit, the language of the really ancient texts. Later, as Buddhism began to intrude, Chinese and Japanese made their bids: If I learned the language of the 'realized' masters, then I might be that much closer to whatever essence I was sniffing around for. It did not cross my mind that spiritual iterations were still being made by the teachers I venerated and if that were true, how well-grounded could those utterances be ... Japanese, Chinese, Vedanta Hindu ... and still the chattering went on. 'Knowing' that someone else knew was not really enough. Peace and language didn't really fit, but I was grasping at straws. I learned a hell of a lot of foreign words ... long foreign words ... holy foreign words. It was a phase to go through, looking for soporifics that could ease my mind.

It all sounds ridiculous now, but what else could I do? I really didn't know. If I could talk the talk, maybe it would teach me to walk the walk. It was all I had been trained for ... intellectual investigation. I don't fault it or goad it. How the fuck could I know what I was convinced I didn't know? Sometimes in order to plumb the depths of ignorance, you've got to get smart first.

Philosophy here I come. Lingo.