Words & Inquiry

In spiritual traditions, words are used in two ways: To point to the Absolute and/or Big Mind, and to give guidelines for reorganizing the small self.

Words Pointing to the Absolute & Big Mind

In the first case, words seem quite useless in helping the receivers themselves shift into an awakening as the Absolute and/or Big Mind. In a way, it is nonsense to talk about, if this is the intention.

Still, these words can be very helpful as benchmarks. Before awakening as Absolute/Big Mind, the words are nonsense, just abstractions. When I awaken, there is a recognition: O.K., I see that it can be expressed in that way.

Now, the words can be pointers in clarifying the awakening and guiding integration, as well as for how to speak about it.


When it comes to help people themselves shift into an awakening as Absolute/Big Mind, inquiry seems much more useful than lectures and statements. They help us see for ourselves, which is the only way into it.

Some of the forms of inquiry I have found useful are those of Byron Katie, Douglas Harding and the Big Mind process.

Words for Reorganizing the Small Self

Words can also be used as guidelines for how to reorganize the small self. They can have a pragmatic focus, helping us into a life that may be a little more comfortable. Pema Chödrön is a good example of someone doing this in an excellent way.


So, one way to combine these approaches is to…

Use inquiry as a way to shift into a direct experience of – and awakening as – the Absolute and then Big Mind.

Use word descriptions of the Absolute and Big Mind as benchmarks. They are nonsense before awakening, and are recognized as feeble expressions of it after awakening.

Use words as guidelines for how to reorganize the small self and our relationship with the small self, to helps our lives become a little more comfortable and make us less of a nuisance for others.

Each of these seems to be useful approaches, and combined maybe even more so.

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