polarity in language.
 
Ive been thinking a lot about the role of language and communication in our culture. So much of our reality is built on concepts, stories and reactions. Yet many of us are not taught the power of the stories we tell ourselves and the impact it has on the quality of our lives. These stories use language that may or may not increase the volatility or pleasure of our memories. Over time these reactions to our stories create concepts about “the way things are”. However, the reality is that they are just stories, and we write and rewrite them everyday in our minds. It is this awareness of our inner story telling that is the basis of almost all contemplative traditions, Psychotherapy and the main reason we turn to friends and colleagues for feedback. Feedback on whether or not our story checks out, or is it out of wack when compared with someones elses' perspective. 

Perspective is key. Our particular orientation is what determines our judgments and choices. When we are oriented toward fairness for example, we see the world as a polarized duality; fair vs unfair. Right vs wrong. While in reality there is no such thing, It is our minds that decide the difference because we have only given ourselves two polar opposite possibilities. To a man that only has a hammer, every problem is a nail.

Now let me be clear about how I use the word “judgment”.  There is a difference between a moralistic judgment and a selection of possible options. When we have multiple options available and we make a choice based on experience and clear discernment of attributes this can be called a judgment. It is in the moral aspect that we run into most of the problems we face with judgment. To say someone did something “wrong” for instance, implies that YOU know what Right and Wrong are. To say that someone “deserves” something implies that you know what someone else deserves. We are then playing god. This is a very dangerous place and can cause most of the horrors we see in the world. All over the place people are using this language of judgment to punish each other. 

 We all do this. Its been educated into us from our parents, teachers, and other positions of authority. This power OVER others has been the standard for many decades. Ultimately however it leads to more polarization. When one is offered only two possible choices it forces someone to choose between submission or rebellion. Almost every government in the world is built in this model. And most people look at revolution as the only way to change things. History, nature and time have shown that an increase of one aspect of a polarity increases the opposite. Thus what was once a successful revolution can become the authoritarian establishment. 

Many of our spiritual traditions seek to teach us this but I believe this aspect of the importance of language has been largely lost in our culture. The yin yang of Taoism, Tantra, heaven and hell of Christianity, dualism in Buddhism even the concept of polarity in our modern scientific language show us this principle at work. When we see polarity from a larger perspective, from a greater orientation, we see that they are two sides of the same coin. The in/out of the breath, The ebb and flow of the tides. It is the principle of vibration at work. 

We can then use this greater orientation when looking at our own troubles. That the anger I feel about my landlady is because of the story I choose to tell myself. That “I” have the power to control my anger. Now I still may see her behavior as in conflict with my needs, but notice the difference between the observation and a judgment that implies wrongness. With the judgment I can make the strategy of punishment seem almost attractive. My fantasies of throwing the keys at her face become more and more possible the more I reinforce this story. However the observation allows many other strategies to exist, thus multiple options where before there were only two. This is freedom. 


Would love to hear feedback from you all on this, 

Erik