Exploring the origins, ethics and future of changemaking

Where change has no name

In Language on July 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm

“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again” – Krishnamurti

I perhaps don’t understand the full depth of this quote, but what I imagine Krishnamurti was referring to was this idea that when we are born we see the sacredness in life and things around us. There is something that happens as we grow, where as we ascribe language to something, we somehow put form around it and limit our perspective of that thing. We start to see the bird according to how we define the bird, rather than as the beautiful and special movement of energy that it is.

I also heard recently that in Tibet there was and is no word for ‘guilt’. Does the word create the feeling, or the feeling create the word. Did anyone in Tibet ever experience guilt? Perhaps not. I have been wondering how much language shapes how we look at things, as much as how experiences shape our language.

In the work that I do I am so often struck by the amount of language we use to give meaning to what we are doing and creating. We identify as ‘social entrepreneurs’; involve ourselves in ‘innovation’, and battle over the true definition of ‘social enterprise’, ‘conscious capitalism’ and ‘impact investment’. We give generosity and goodwill the name ‘philanthropy’, and overtime have complicated and confused what was once a beautiful expression of love called ‘charity’.

I see people get worked up into heated debates about what is right, what is wrong, what is in and what is out. There is usually no end to this, but simply more tension, confusion and disconnection. In seeking to create meaning, we destroy it.

I am agnostic in this way, and in my head fly away to some mythical land where these debates are as unknown as guilt to the Tibetans. I imagine a place where people can come together, live together, create together. Empathy rules and leads to deeper insight and closer connection. People see things not by what something is not, but what could possibly be. There is a recognition of other sacred forces at play other than the human mind and its attempt to limit, distort and disconnect. It is our ability to tap into this and ride this wave that carries us closer to what we seek.

The people of this land are curious and fun. They explore the edge of change with open hearts and goodwill. They seek the highest in themselves and each other. There are no conferences, but times of laughter, silence and celebration. Dreams inform ‘the way’ as much as the intellect. We listen to the Sound and follow the Light.

In the end we do not need to know what change is or how it is created, for we have already created that which we seek. No words were required. We simply listened, loved and learned, and found our way there.

** The image at top is of the Orion Nebula as only the Hubble could see it.

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  1. This is VERY interesting. As I have been learning the Khmer language I have been thinking a lot about how language shapes our culture, emotions, expectations, relationships etc etc.

    It is interesting that in Cambodia there is just one word for beautiful. This word is used for EVERYTHING that is pleasing aesthetically. Such as for a cute puppy, good quality water, a beautiful woman, a handsome man, a nice day, a quality piece of clothing etc etc. In our culture we have a myriad of words to choose from when describing something aesthetically, such as beautiful, pretty, handsome, stunning, cute, gorgeous etc…

    Yet we have just one word for love.

    We use the word love not only to express our deepest emotions for someone, but also to describe our feelings towards a new car, or a book we just read.

    Some food for thought…

    • Thanks Zoe for sharing. Out of interest, what is the word for beautiful? And have you come across any words that describe social entrepreneurs/changemakers/do-gooders? I would love to add that to my lexicon…

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