Words can be enlightening. They can also limit our deeper understanding. It’s natural for us to explain, to solve, to work things out through words. But this keeps us in our head and in the realm of ideas and some things are beyond the realm of ideas.
As John says in his first Epistle, no-one has ever seen God. But plenty of people feel that they have encountered God. And that takes us into the realm of experience. Experiences change us and affect our actions and our relationships.
The most profound experiences come when we are paying attention – to ourselves, to another, to the world around us. It is then that we may get glimpses of peace as an experience, wholeness as an experience, God as an experience. These glimpses may be brief, but they are there because, at some level, we have let go the urge to analyse and explain and just to be.
Words and ideas are very attractive, because they help us to keep a grip on ourselves and the world. We can explore what is right and wrong, we can explain how things work, we can express ourselves. Perhaps, above all, it is through them that we maintain our separateness and our individuality. But as the 13th century Sufi mystic Rumi puts it:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.”