Compassion -- What languages say. LO24376

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 04/17/00

Replying to LO24339 --

Dear reader, Judy and At,

At replied to Judy:

> Jeremiah even goes so far as to say: "Do not trust
> deceptive words which say 'It is the Lord's Word'." (My paraphrasing.) In
> other words, question even how you understand any written piece, including
> the Bible. James make a simple challence out of it: "Show me your words
> and I will show you my deeds so that we can know which manifests faith
> strongest." (My paraphrasing). It means that words speak, but deeds stir
> creativity.

Because, you know, sometimes words have two meanings. I nowadays assume
that words have, imply, own, point at at least four meanings. As have
deeds. As have attributions of people. Everything we (i, you, reader,
moderator too) think of has - at least - a double meaning, is ambivalent,
equivocal or ambiguous (i'll abbreviate this list to {}, two faces, a
Janus head, see. Suddenly i see a logo like @}:-). It shows how our
thinking processes @ are channeled } into a single statement : that is
uttered - by our mouth ) ). Limited as we are in our perception and our
attention, we have to make choices on how, what, why and who to see in a
word, sentence, deed, results, faith. We trust our own - implicit,
unknown, subconscious, emotional - mind to come up with the best
understanding, model, actions, metaphors. We have to trust the words that
appear in our mind.

These tasks - of generating meaning, attaching words to thoughts and
emotions, are performed routinely and very effectively because we -as a
species - were under pressure to survive, threatened at night, fearful at
daylight (- when the sun rises in Africa, you better start running, % -).
One thing this mechanism - i'm referring to my brain, mind, personality or
our cultures - can not cope with is ambivalence {} about the mechanism:
doubts are dangerous, because doubt threatens the speed of the process. So
words - in order to survive - can not have double meanings, at least,
important words can not have double meanings. And situations can not have
double meanings .. or persons .. or ideas. The moment a word, situation,
person or idea has a double meaning {}, we feel the tension rise:
somewhere at the back, or under, or inside our head warning lights
starting flash faster, warning signals sound, we feel uneasiness: this is
what our mother warned us for, trouble, bifurcation { ahead.

The part Mental Models of the Fifth Discipline applies here.

We have several escape or coping mechanisms: one is saying that some Words
are more important than other words. These words we usually call Holy,
True, Liberating, Rights or Sanctified. Another one is laughing, humor,
reduction of tension, acceptance. Another one is dialogue, philosophy,
etymology, theology. And a fourth one may be deeds indeed: no words but
actions. Words about words are about words.

So, i think that we have creativity in words, ideas, feelings and deeds.
Most are in our heads, but some are in our hands and these we can see,
feel, touch and heal. Me.

> >In the east they say "When the student is ready - the
> >teacher will appear" - - if so, the more you develop your own
> >compassion, the more you'll be prepared for a ready student
> >who might cross your way, thus - DO.
> It's like the saying -- a nation gets the leaders which they deserve,
> nothing less, nothing more.

No it is not. A serving leadership is compassionate, a compass for a
nation, you may be right that a nation gets the leaders they deserve - i
venture to disagree - but the sayings - i like it - are dissimilar by a
mile, dissi miler, this smiler @}:-)

> >It seems that you just shared with us such an experience
> > - studying etymology (especially certain words and expressions)
> >caused an increase in your ability to feel compassionate. It
> >works for some people sometimes - I myself experienced
> >somthing similar when I struggled lately with my English, but
> >I tend to connect these feelings with the actual meaning of
> >the words (like the word "deernis" that you analyzed so
> >carefully with so much care) and not with the studies
> >themselves.

I like that notion, idea, ambiguity {}: the actual meaning of the words,
squared by: not with the studies themselves.


> My training as a scientist sort of created the impression in me that, even
> though there is evoluton in the meaning of words, the scientist has the
> right to alter the meaning drastically for the sake of science.

Kuhn? Feyerabend? What is the meaning of meaning when a word can have two

> Soon afterwards I studied an old book which shocked me out of my secure
> contemplations by showing me that drastic alterations to the etymology of
> words (i.e bifurcations) are part of the evolution of the meaning of
> words. I will not now mention the name and author of the book because its
> contents in terms of bifurcations is dynamite for today's world straining
> from atheism to fundamentalistic religions. But it brought me deeply under
> the impression how etymology is the result of both individual and
> collective learning, usually very gradually, but occasionally quite
> dramatic. I have studied many thousands of books before and after that
> specific book, but none did more to shake my self-assurance in meanings
> than that book.

So you knew!


> I never thought of the converse
> possibility, namely that words have a power over the human so that the
> meaning of a word is the MANIFESTATION of the power of all the words which
> that human has encountered in his/her life. In other words, we are just as
> much the slaves of the words which we use as we are the masters of these
> words when using them.

Is it Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass you read:

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many
different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

(didn't i quote this before, i seem to have a deja lu).

In my annotated version - thank you Martin Gardner - Roger W. Holmes is
cited with:

"May we pay our words extra, or is this the stuff that propaganda is made
off? Do we have an obligation to past usage? In one sense words are our
masters, or communication would be impossible. In another sense we are the
masters; otherwise there would be no poetry".

So there we have it again: Holy words or means to sell me something.


> The only other person who I could find who
> have reached that same level of awareness was Wittgenstein.

Yep, when i turn my head i see his book looking at me, asking me: why have
you abandoned me?


> Now, should it be true that all the words and symbols which we have used
> to express our tacit knowledge have a power over us as we have power over
> using a single word, then its implications for qualities (like compassion
> and curiosity) which makes us humane are profound. It means that our use
> of any natural or artificial language influences our personality as much
> as we reflect our personality in the use of any of these langauges. In
> other words, the compassion which a person have for other humans is
> determined by how that human communicates with other humans

Quite so, bull's eye, right. To me this makes perfect sense, logisens.
This be to me why the quote Judy used - "When the student is ready - the
teacher will appear" - would seem to be true. We may develop, learn,
regain our sixth sense for determining the level of compassion used in
communicating and therefore meet the teacher. At least, Judy can.

> -- and animals, or do you not talk with your dogs while playing
> -- and plants, or do you not talk with them when watering them
> -- and atoms, or do you not talk to them when studying them
> -- and God Creator, the "Grand Thinker" behind all our thinking.


> Yes -- we are desperately in need of peace which words cannot describe,
> but which we at best can only sigh with SHALOM. However, peace will only
> come to those who prepare themselves for it with the help of God Creator.
> I sigh it with you -- thanks.

A four meanings of {peace}:
- things are as they are, are in tune, no uncertainty
- we have reached an agreement, a settlement, a treaty
- thoughts are at rest, silent understanding, balanced, detached,
compassionate feeling
- heaven, Eden, Nirvana, a state of grace

The last one dawned on me after reading the novel "Disgrace" by Coetzee.

Furthermore i think i agree with you adding that i believe in spiritual
development - becoming - as a name of God Creator.




Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan) LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Group Decision Process Support Tel.: (+ 31) (0)70 3243475 or car: (+ 31)(0)65 4685114 and/or taoSystems: + 31 (0)30 6377973 -

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.