Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Magic of Words

The Magic of Words

I feel distrustful of words. They are dangerous things. They can either obscure or clarify entire fields of consciousness.

In this moment I am feeling something, a trembling within, some combination of release and bondage, maybe even a small inspiration. It leads me to reach out to someone, to seek a connection, some faint contact across the prism of life. And so the words come.

But after a moment I see those words not as a bridge but as a fence. A huge fence like a screen, upon which my feelings have stuck and become amalgamated into a picture that no longer seems alive.

An ominous dread settles into my soul, the darkness of a solitary criminal carving his initials on the cell wall – markings that will never be seen except by the uncaring eyes of the dungeon master.

How often do I look to that screen to see what is written on it? And whatsoever is there I believe is the totality of me.

No, I do not trust those words any more. They have made a story that would break the hardest heart, as it has surely broken mine.

Yet they capture me over and over with their magic, with their spell of seeming. I look and believe, and then the heart falters. And I plead, oh God, please make that story end. Make the words stop telling that story because it is beyond my strength to bear.

But there is no other story.

Finally I turn the calendar page and read today’s message: “Every concept grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle in the quest to those who search.”

Surprising insight from the Christian tradition, this counsel of Gregory of Nyssa seems aimed exactly at my struggle with the power of the mind and its conceptual words.

But it possible to have no concept of oneself? To forget personality, to abdicate and abandon the sad and pathetic story of “me”?

An odd question coming from someone who says, “I am Nesia.”


  1. The stories we create are very, very powerful. Because any time we are trapped or stuck, it is because we are trapped and stuck in a story that we have made up about life.

    It shows how truly powerful and creative we are, that we are truly the authors of how life is for us.

    As human beings we have an infinite capacity to tell stories. It is just our nature. And it combines the fact that we are so inherently creative with the capacity we have to utilise words and language to express ourselves.

    Within indigenous communities they have understood this - and that is why it is the elders who pass down stories to the rest of the communities - because the elders have the wisdom and insight to pass on stories that will serve and enhance that community.

    Unfortunately, for those of us who live in Western societies, this doesn't really happen. The stories that are passed on to us are stories of fear, of blame, of revenge. Of the need to accumulate money, possessions, an attractive spouse - because only that will make you happy. Our media, politicians, commercial enterprises, religions and educational systems have taken on this mantle and this mantra - and we have, most of us, blindly taken on these stories to be the truth about us.

    An exercise that I have been doing recently is to disempower the story, as it were.

    Very simply, I look at any aspect of my life that I'm not happy with, and I write out the story in all its gory, gruesome details. Who I'm angry at, who's to blame, who I'd like to kill, etc. etc.

    And I really get into it like a performance, because that's what it actually is.

    And I keep on reading it, and performing it, until I get that it is just a story. That it is not real. And, as such, I can let it go, because I choose to no longer believe it to be true.

    This may take 5 readings, 10 readings, 20 readings. But there comes a point, when this thought comes to me: "Who wrote this garbage?"

    At which point I can have a chuckle about it, because of the recognition and the knowing that it isn't me. And I can experience gratitude that I have chosen to let go of it and that I'm now open to creating another, more empowering story about my life, one that will truly serve me.

  2. I'd think you'd want to even revisit what/who's behind "someone who says,"I'm Nesia""??

  3. Your words move my heart and very cool entry for me too, given that I just read that although in the fourth century the Roman church in the West condemed anything 'Gnostic' as heresy, In the East the original Christian Spirit survived a little longer in that Sages such as Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea etc, continued to teach the oral tradition of 'private secret teachings' to those initiated into the inner mysteries of Christianity... they understood the Bible allegorically, explaining that, ultimately, the secrets can only be revealed 'thanks to Gnosis' and taught that the goal of Christianity was 'to become God'
    Keep flippin' those calender pages :-)

  4. Very good observation, Anonymous. Don't forget the most mystic (perhaps) of all the Eastern Christian (Orthodox) saints, Gregory Palamas. He taught that the aim of everyday life was union with God, and that everyone has the genuine capacity, due to being made in the image of God, to partake of supernatural life here on earth.

  5. Yeah, beyond cool... that so many... in so many seemingly different cultures upon our Mother Earth... then and now... have attained and realized what we all come here for...
    Thanks Nesia!