Words Matter

Words matter.

How you say what you say matters.

C. S., Lewis said, “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

In Sanskrit if you change the pronunciation of a word, by slightly adjusting where in your mouth you create the sound or swap a long vowel for a short vowel, you are probably using a completely different word.  Different word. Different meaning.  For instance: Dharma means the teachings, reality, truth. However, dhārma (long ā) is justice.  Darma similar sound, when said by Americans but with no “h”…means destroyer or demolisher.  Big difference. Truth to destruction in one letter.  Don’t drop the “h”.

How you say what you say matters.  Because words properly pronounced with intention behind them can change the world.

You can’t just string together peaceful cosmic words and create a difference in the world.

Buddha said, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

Buddha was not really referring to the pronunciation but in part the articulation of a manifestation rather than a simple recitation.

We love words that sound loving, so we use them and fully miss the meanings that come from the impact they could have when they are truly set in motion by intention.

We say them only; but they are not full of the life they need to be catalysts or reporters of transformation or seeds of creation.

We say them without any intention or maybe we just skip the actions.

We memorize and reiterate easy combinations of language to decorate our palate and don’t bite down on anything hard or uncomfortable but maybe necessary.

We push away what feels unsavory and fill in with delightful fonts and artistic turns of phrase.

We hide behind pre-designed imprints from an urban dictionary or the latest decorative app.

In what I do, I read and hear so much wordplay and verbal nonsense about trust and love and joy and awareness and mindfulness and oh my goodness, the poor overused word community!

I just do not see the commitment to any of it.  I want to see it.  I want to be in community that swells with and overflows the meaning of the word.

I see instead sometimes, just strings of words that have become syllables but not living things. that blossom to full potential.

We need to stand for the words. We need to stand with them on some foundation to earn the right to use some of these sacred refrains; earn the full sense of what was intended when the word was uttered into being.

It is a responsibility to invoke community.

I also worry about the often repeated word “peace”.  It is on tee shirts and billboards but doesn’t live around us.

I can’t even write it sometimes.

My thumbs pause and the my heart skips and I worry that it is just lip service to such an enormous hope and prayer.  I want to open up the gift of the word and unwrap the full potential of it, the honor of it;

so that I can share the incredible blessing that peace is.

I know how easy it is to post and repost and tweet and retweet and insta this or snap that.

I call us out.

I call us all on our  recycled artisanal kumbucha drenched “journeys” for personal growth that are dripping with language like delicate glass ornaments, dangling and beautiful but easy to shatter.

I call us to come out from behind the photos and the posts and the lovely fonts and the repeated and stolen phrases and the latest apps to beautify moments that may already have been beautiful in their original honesty or were not anything at all but rigged pretense set up on a 10 second timer that we stamped a slogan to.

I suggest we look to excavate for meaning’s potential as if it were our own potential.

Look to the Dharma.

I say we deeply embed the words with the actions that give them life and honesty and season them with full on gratitude.  Gratitude that we have thumbs attached to small complex smart gizmos that we use to record what is trivial, but is also available to record and share what is sacred and sublime.

I challenge us to earn the words.

Pythagoras said, “Silence is better than unmeaning words.”

We can stand for their active manifest meaning when we feel deeply moved and raise our fists over the sentiments we cannot stand for.  We should also not dismiss words as “mere” utterances.  I acknowledge the power of repetition even for its own sake.  It appears particularly vigorous when a negative or hateful utterance is repeated.  But, let’s begin with empty phrases that are meant to be flush with heart.

Step in front of your smart phones or come out from behind the endless thumbs ups and emojis; challenge each other to not just share words but to do and be something beautiful and important and not just a little bit difficult.  Then have at it… share that.

In this way the words are given meaning as they refer back to the truth of the matter.  They are given the life they had when they were designed to represent an idea, expressed by a mouth and heard by a heart for the purpose of communicating peace or community.

I stop myself and ask what am I saying and does it correlate to what I am doing to honor the words themselves?

I watch the instagram world and I really want to comment sometimes, but that’s too easy.

I will just start here by remembering to keep the “h” in Dharma.

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