Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Words Are Like Numbers

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

July 13, 2020

"Words mean things, like they're numbers: if you add numbers together you get answers. If you add words together you get answers. If you add the wrong words together you get the wrong answers."
"The Vedic pundits of India of five thousand years ago noted when the naming word for any object was uttered in the Sanskrit language by a saint, that object would manifest and materialize out of nothing."
... Laurence Platt paraphrasing Maharishi Mahesh Yogi sharing an ancient Hindu legend
This essay, Words Are Like Numbers, is the companion piece to It is also the twenty fifth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
  23. Located Inside Language
  24. Be A Good Day
  25. Words Are Like Numbers
in that order.

Transformation, it's been said, lays bare "a rich body of distinctions". A suggestion: avoid considering transformation to be like a "level / rank" to attain. That's waaay  too conceptual and will only muddy the water. And it will only obfuscate things further to cast transformation as "enlightenment" which brings with it an eastern flavor that's both distracting as well as it's not required. No, "a rich body of distinctions" conveys it best. And the vehicle for expressing distinctions ie the vehicle for bringing forth  distinctions, is language - ergo  the vehicle for bringing forth transformation, is language. Transformation literally lives ie it literally comes alive  in our speaking.

Ordinarily when we speak, we speak in one of two common ways. The first is we speak about  something - that is, there's a topic we're describing / discussing. How we envision our speaking in this ordinary sense, is it's a signal  from us ie from who we are, adding our two cent's worth  of what's being discussed, into the world out there. The second is we speak in order to make a noise in a noisy world. Without rigor, we have it that speaking is like jamming on an instrument in a band: everyone contributes to the clamor of noise, yet the resulting cacophony (gossip, rambling on, locker room banter, blabbing etc) while not all that bad, is still of dubious value.

Then there's a third possible way of speaking which, without critical examination, is almost always overlooked as a possibility. It's the generative  way of speaking. Speaking generatively is an inherently authentic way of speaking. It isn't to describe something (yet it may carry a description also) and it isn't to make noise just for the sake of making noise. It's to generate / bring forth / share an experience - like an experience of love, like an experience of compassion, like an experience of being in communication, like an experience of being transformed. We share such experiences by speaking generatively in what are called "linguistic"  acts (or "speech"  acts).

When speaking is generative, an experience of transformation isn't merely being described, discussed, talked about: it's actually being created. So the words we choose can describe transformation like a "thing" ... or ... they can bring forth transformation like an experience. And when speaking which brings forth transformation like an experience is listened, we have the possibility of a way of "speaking and listening" which generates and shares transformation, more than merely describing it / hearing about it. This is when the fish walks up onto the land for the first time, bringing with it elephants and eagles like a possibility  (an original, vintage Erhard descriptor).

If I add numbers together, and if in so doing I adhere to the ground rules and axioms of mathematics, the answers I get will be correct. If I add the wrong numbers together, or if I disregard the ground rules and axioms of mathematics, I'll get the wrong answers. Similar to both of those, words are like numbers. When I add words together ie when I speak, I either get the correct answers or the wrong answers - that is to say when I speak, I generate an experience worthwhile having, or not.

So if I respect the ground rules and axioms of language when I speak ie if I speak authentically coming from integrity, the experience I generate will be authentic and integral, and will convey something worthwhile having - transformation - primarily via osmosis alone. And if I speak the wrong words, or if I'm inauthentic or without integrity when I speak, what I say will be inauthentic / without integrity, and will convey very little of substance or of actual value in generating an experience that's worthwhile having. Wrong words are like wrong numbers: they don't add up to much of anything. Wrong words are the cheap talk  in the idiom "Talk is cheap.".

Listen: if you're speaking inauthentically and / or without integrity, you can forget about generating and sharing transformation like a worthwhile experience. Really.

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