I’ve always known words have power. If it wasn’t true, people wouldn’t care what names there were called and arguments wouldn’t arise from things said out of anger. But recently I have seen a few words casually thrown around by people that I don’t feel have a good grasp on their meaning, giving them a false expectation for a certain response and reaction. More importantly, these expectations are throwing off any real growth and gain, prompting those that know to just exit. Can anything be done? I don’t know but let’s discuss anyway.
The first word that I notice causes confusion is Buddhism, or really Buddhist. When I talk about my ideas and my life, I often times invoke Buddhism. The way my critical thinking works, Buddhist practices and tools are key to my process. I will use terms that are present in the teachings, forgetting these ideas have been translated from a language no longer spoken. It is completely possible blue means red, and up means down many times over but I have faith and I do the best that I can. I am still learning so it’s par for the course to stumble and have to use more and more words that are familiar to all in making a point. I see my side in the confusion which boils down to speaking too soon. But I am passionate about Buddhism and its wonders. Maybe if I preface everything I say with the fact that I am a ten-year novice, maybe I can get some understanding? But I have and some just don’t care. They prefer everyone to speak as an authority every time. These expectations slow the growth of all parties and I for one am over it. I am a practicing Buddhist which means I’m learning and I can fail at fully utilizing all the principles at all times. Does that mean I can’t refer to myself as a Buddhist? It seems the answer is yes but as I grow and become more comfortable with myself, I care less about those outside views and just keep my path moving forward. I can do myself a service and practice more silence in these situations, but in trying to convey the Buddhist message and possibly failing, I get to learn and grow so don’t expect me to stop.
Another word I keep hearing people put weight and energy behind is self. The context I hear it in mostly revolves around people wanting assistance with a variety of things, only to turn negative and spiteful when denied. Then it becomes, “you only think about yourself,” and ” I do so much for others and get used and nothing in return.” It seems that everyone in a majority of situations thinks of themselves first and why shouldn’t they? It’s selfish to only think of yourself as we are sharing this space and being solely for oneself will be obvious and frowned upon by most. However, to say it’s wrong to look at how much stress or how much an inconvenience it would be to do whatever is being asked upon is, in my mind, hypocritical. Very few people gift and do for others without looking first at the impact on themselves. Our bodies and minds are programmed to survive and cost-benefit analysis is key. When it doesn’t go in one’s favor then it’s apparently selfish. I call BS and I urge people to look into all the judgment thrown about. We do the best we can and I really have met more people who help out than don’t. Just sometimes we have to do for ourselves and keep it moving.
Which brings me to loyalty. I’m sorry, I only hear loyalty when someone is being admonished or chastised. Loyalty can be seen as the ego’s grasp for power and control. I feel like people are loyal to what is proven to work for them. This can be an array of things but when referring to other people, loyalty comes on its own. It’s like I’m loyal to my friends because they have shown over time they care for my best interest and will not cause me to fail. They are loyal to me because they have seen me work for them and with them when they need it most. In some cases, these actions are behind the scene, which only increases loyalty but make no mistake, I expect them to look deep if, in fact, our interests become at odds with each other. To be selfless in that situation truly requires a belief that what is in question isn’t life or death, or essential. In the majority of situations, they will put the need to survive first; and a belief the other is, in fact, a loyal friend and will return the favor in some way in the future. In both situations, the need of self is put into the equation and does not dimish the desire to be loyal to a friend. A loyal friend doesn’t ask too much of another and respect when they get denied. Loyalty just needs not be thrown about as it has. It’s hostile and truly manipulative.
The last one I must bring up is really key to them all, understanding. I hear people say, ” you just don’t understand,” or ” if you only understood…” The problem is, a person can only understand if the other explains it and explains in well. When I say well, I am referring to terms and examples that are familiar to that person listening. I can use my love of Buddhism as an example because the terms and ideas are for a certain mind. If you aren’t open then it can be hard to follow so words that are more common are used but can often times give a meaning to something that it shouldn’t. I realize this is the problem I run into often and kinda explained earlier but aside from that, when people are engaged in a discussion, we bring in our understanding of words and ideas. Often times we don’t hear the other person because we think we know. We don’t dig deeper and can be mistaken or outright wrong. But the one that really bothers me is, we can’t be in it and feel what is trying to be conveyed when we are stuck on what we feel we understand without asking. If you want people to understand, give them what they need. Don’t be stuck on how you like to phrase it or explain things. Confusion can only be cleared up through knowledge, so speak up and assume nothing.
All this boils down to preconceived notions and attachment. We become so attached to what we think we know, we miss so much and confusion wins the day. Slow down to understand, be open, and stop assuming. Sometimes what is just is. Sometimes, more is needed. But every time, enter with good intentions and don’t be afraid to ask.