Live words and dead words
We are overloaded with information. Yet another bandwidth of words is available, always present, but coming increasingly ‘online’.
Stephan Bodian, former editor of Yoga Journal, wrote: “When I was a monk, I learned to distinguish between ‘live words’ and ‘dead words’. Most of the words we read and hear are lifeless, in the sense that they’re rooted in concepts and intended to appeal to the mind.” He goes on to say that we also need ‘live words’, like those we find in the teachings of the non-dual masters, and that such words are “heart wisdom, saturated with the perfume of the Source from which they come.”
While Bodian points to spiritual masters for living words, I am drawn also to living words among us all. What makes such words recognisable is that they elicit immediate recognition, an inner yes! and a leap of aliveness. They also have the quality of gift. Arising freshly, such words open the heart-mind, raise the vibration, and lead to connection, creativity and generosity.
How are they accessed? In the living moment, when we are undefended and speak or write from the truth in that instant.
Looking back, two experiences imprinted an awareness of living words in me. The first was as a child over a period of a year with a rare teacher who broke all the rules and created a field of such inspiration and freedom in the classroom that writing leaped off our pages. Not necessarily ‘good writing’, our words carried a charge and we were on creative wings. The other was as an adult, following an experience gifted by Nature on the mountain early one morning, and writing rose spontaneously in the overflow.
Leaving my work as an academic editor has taken several years, but underlying it has been a deep pull towards living words, towards their perfume and freedom, and especially towards the medicine of such words in the world today. Where ‘live words’ may once have come mostly through spiritual masters and poets, I feel this frequency is open to us all, across all fields of life, in ordinary and extraordinary ways.