words and their limitations

Sometimes misunderstandings happen because words don’t always convey what we want to convey.

“For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words many indeed unfold
its wings but cannot fly.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes when a person misunderstands something, instead of seeking clarification, he may (had he interpreted it offensively) actually retaliate with harsh words.

What if one is under a wrong impression that he’s understood, and the reaction is based on this misunderstanding? Surely nobody would seek a clarification for something one is already convinced is what the other person meant.

But then if the other person again harshly reacts to this harsh reaction, then the situation really starts deteriorating!

This is probably why the founder of Aikido (aka the Art of Peace) Morihei Ueshiba had said “If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly.

(of course, “opponent” above is merely a metaphor, a martial arts term).

In general… the other person might even find the misunderstanding so detestable that he gets so attached to it. So we have situations where even if the poor fellow who was misunderstood tries to clarify, the “misunderstander” still isn’t interested but sticks on to the misunderstanding 🙂

Strange isn’t it, that sometimes we humans like to dislike! For some people, harboring grudges is like a hobby. For some others, maintaining a grudge can even become a matter of prestige. They like to hold on to the past forever, and consider that words are hard to undo, like the feathers illustrated in the rabbi’s story.

There are certain strange situations where it becomes very easy to misunderstand someone. That is where the ultimate perspective of one’s own death helps. I don’t want to die with regret of for eg having hurt someone close to me. It is merely one more perspective that I will die someday – maybe next week or 100 years from now… I don’t know! In fact that I (like anyone else) am gradually dying everyday.

Due to our senseless horror or tragic movies/media, it sounds all morbid and pessimistic, but this is what is the truth… its happening so fast that we can hardly notice – just like we don’t see the individual frames of a cinema but only see the movie in motion. But death on the other hand, brings with it a beautiful freshness. How nice it is to have something that’s brand new! And with this knowledge I know that just as I am dying everyday, on the other hand I (like anyone else) am a new born person everyday! As long as I am living with that truth, I rarely overreact to such situations. As I practice, I remember more easily and intuitively that I have this life to learn love with all my heart.

Like any common man, I have my own moments of weaknesses just like anyone else. So sometimes I’ve ended up hurting someone close to me. Misunderstandings due to posessivness or generation gaps or mismatch in expectations, or countless other reasons are bound to come up once in a way, or in the future with any one esp with whom I live with every day. Its quite inevitable that we hurt each other once in a way.

Obviously nobody in their right mind would want such things to happen, but they just end up that way!

When something goes wrong this way, the real maturity in a relationship comes in recovering from it with integrity and genuine unbiased love and forgiveness. Sometimes even giving each other some space. This is what I believe and try to live by.

It must be noted that theorotically atleast, ultimately its impossible for one to really hurt anyone else. Whenever a person is hurt, its only the person who has hurt oneself. But I myself have a long way to go before living consistently with that. Till then I still live mostly only at the apparent level where I imagine “this or that particular situation or person… hurt me”!

So this year end is a good time to recall my friend’s poem on forgiveness.

2 Responses to “words and their limitations”

  1. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    Circa 2010. RK asks his son N what he learned in school that day. N responds, “Pi R squared”. RK gets very angry and shoots back with, “What are they teaching you in school I say? Everybody knows cornbread are squared; pie are round!”

  2. msanjay Says:

    oh oh man… 😆 (N will learn about Pi R Sq in 3 years… wow)

Leave a Reply