Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ineffable

I picked up an interesting book in Las Vegas the other day (that's Las Vegas New Mexico for those not from around here...). Its called the Book of Silence by Sara Maitland.

Interesting read. I really enjoy personal accounts of inner exploration, especially with those who really strike out on their own to avoid the contamination of religious and cultural influences. Reminds me a bit of Emerson and Thoreau.

Came across a word in the book which I didn't know so had to look up - ineffable. According to the first definition that came up on google:
  1. Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words: "ineffable beauty".
  2. Too sacred to be uttered.
This word is precisely what I have been struggling with lately... How to put to words the indescribable, the inner of the inner where words just don't quite fit?

I really admire people like Sara who have the courage to attempt to describe that place. She talks about how in addition to her personal researches into silence which as much as possible try to avoid external contaminants like too much reading or organized retreats, that she at some point did try to examine others experiences. She claims that every account she came across before the 19th century was unable to give much true outer expression to the inner experience. That many did not even try.

Pondering this a little, I feel that there is not only a gap between that space and our everyday experience, but that there is a gap within ourselves. To me this is like a wide gulf between the objective and instrumental (and deeper) layers of ourselves. It is almost like I can sometimes feel a wide gap between my outer and inner realms. It is almost like there are multiple levels of experience occurring simultaneously. Almost like a parallel universe or something wacky like that.

To attempt to cross that gap is the difficulty in bringing words to that deeper "experience". Expression, words, forms, all exist in our objective sphere and what occurs below that is so radically not the same.

We bring this depth up but somehow it "becomes less". It is like trying to bring a handful of rainbow filled water to show our friend who is up on the shore. When we arrive, the magic is gone. The water and especially the light reflecting from it is already lost. Perhaps our words can only lure the friend out to see for themselves, and even then it may reflect differently for them. Most likely will.

Interesting things to ponder.