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Zen, Words, and the World

In Zen Training by Katsuki Sekida the editor A. V. Grimstone notes rather poetically in his preface:

The medium of our thoughts is language. Words are the means by which we handle reality. This ability to use words has been one of the main reasons for man's prodigious success as an animal. It is also, seemingly, the source of our troubles, for the ability to use words and concepts, while so plainly of enormous value, all too readily becomes hypertrophied. Unconsciously, we come to suppose that to give something a name is to gain some measure of control over it. We come to live in a world of words and thoughts, which takes the place of direct contact with reality. We say, "There is a tree," but do not really see the tree. Indeed, as Iris Murdoch has put it: "Our minds are continually active, fabricating an anxious, usually self-preoccupied veil which partially conceals the world." To see the world as it is we have to check this all too pervasive mental activity, to empty our minds, to relinquish what we imagine to be our verbal hold on the world.

(cf. Zen Training (2011-10-29), Zen and Self Improvement (2011-11-19), ...) - ^z - 2012-01-03