Language and Ineffability

Dan Latner, modified 10 Months ago at 9/3/21 9:34 AM
Created 10 Months ago at 9/3/21 9:12 AM

Language and Ineffability

Posts: 36 Join Date: 3/17/21 Recent Posts
Sorry this is tiny. I don't know why!
​​​​​​​Shifts in language have been the strangest part of whatever happened to "me"
It felt like getting in a huge joke - "Oh my nervous system can do THIS! Ok... so all that religious and spiritual stuff makes sense now. That's hilarious. Why didn't anybody actually explain it!?!?!"

And then I tried and ran into ineffability.
Usually, this word is used to talk about language, but I’m using it to mean any blocks in communication about this.

Seems to me are 3 places "ineffability" shows up. 


There's the intrinsic, big I, ineffability of trying to describe something someone else hasn't experienced. This applies to things like deja vu, drug trips, love, heartbreak, flavours, orgasms....what does a banana taste like?

This non-dual business is crazy hard to describe with language.

“Last summer, I…” nope. Not I. wtf?!

Then there’s the Ineffability on the talker’s end.

How do I say this without being too cocky or pushy? It’s like I just want to tell people to meditate and see for themselves, but I don’t know how to get the vibe right. How much should I honour traditional language and how much should I just try to say what I’m feeling? Is it bad to talk about siddhis and things like that? Am I grandiose? Am I delusional? Am I going to get locked away?

Know what I mean, jellybean?

Then comes the fun part – Ineffability on the listener's end.

On a basic level, there’s a lack of shared vocabulary, just like with being into any other niche or subculture. When I talk about jambands with my jamband friends, it’d sound like jibbeish to non jamband people. Same with spirituality. For example, something like “mara” isn’t that hard to wrap your head around, but it’s just mouth-sounds till someone explains it.

Then there’s this shutdown thing I’ve been seeing, which is what I really want to talk to y’all about.

It seems to me that the ability to process certain parts of language is regulated by stress responses (eg. fight/flight, freeze, fawn) in the nervous system. Specifically, we’re looking at how this relates to words and ideas that contain wisdom/truth/insight that threatens the person’s sense of self and move them towards the good stuff. This response includes the truly ineffable “spiritual” stuff like Awakening/liberation/non-duality etc., and consensus reality wisdom/truth/insight related to psychology/healing/blooming/self-actualization/exercise etc.

My guess is that there are neurolinguistic mechanisms that correspond to the saying “you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink”, or the story about buddha not being able to teach people with dust in their eyes.


Here's what I think is happening:

I think of each human as a bundle of aptitudes for interfacing with the “external” world, which experiences itself as a unified self. We have the 5 senses, proprioception, interception and all that, language comprehension, memory, grit…just all these different parts that make up a sense of “me”.

When the overall state feels threatened, the nervous system uses stress responses to block language. It’s kind of like the body won’t let the mind understand what the heart isn’t ready to feel.  It’s like we’re snakes who want to grow, but we’re afraid to lose our skin and be exposed and tender. Or scared dogs afraid to leave their cage. Or flowers holding their petals in from blooming.

Neurologically, non-metaphorically we can see that extreme cases dysregulation obviously disrupt linguistic communication. A person in a raging tantrum or total shutdown will not be able to process and use language well.

Mild, sub-conscious, sub-rational, sub-linguistic cases -  I think, are what cause the feeling of hitting a wall, this horse and water feeling of “I’m making perfect sense- why can’t you get this?”

It’s important that the stress response is generally minor enough that people don’t feel agitated, and think they are being rational. The “horse” never feels like they aren’t getting it. They feel like “you” are crazy, stupid, cheesy, woo-woo, inarticulate, preachy etc.

-

Does this make any sense?
I find that conversations about psychology with people who aren’t into psychology feel energetically similar to conversations about spirituality with people who aren’t into spirituality.

It feels like a neurolinguistic defense mechanism towards less-duality than a person is ready for.

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