Metaphor

for a long time, language has fascinated me. Of course, to say that is complicated- who hasn’t it fascinated? And I am saying it with language, so there you go. It seems to be a maze you can enjoy or get lost in. Perhaps you’re always getting lost to some degree in it, and it’s just a matter of how, and and how much that is happening.

I had the brilliant chance to meditate, in a group, with a Zen master, an American born very accomplished Zen master, a few days ago. It’s odd, because it feels, right now, like years or months ago. After, a number of us went out to a nearby cafe. Conversation ensued, and sadly I was sitting far away from him. My talking companions were interesting and pleasant, but I couldn’t ask him the question I’d been planning. As he was leaving, I nervously rushed over and shook his hand, introducing myself, which was mortifying, because we’d met or been introduced at least twice by this time. He smiled and I asked him about the use of language.

Basically, he answered by referring back to what his teacher said, “with words there is always a next step… You have to go deeper. Don’t get lost in them.”

How do I go deeper?

I see that you are wearing a white shirt and have brown hair.

I bowed slightly, mumbled something utterly nonsensical, not even words, in my nervousness, and he smiled and left with his entourage, really two friends. I left to meet my wife at the library.

Metaphor- when I think of it, I don’t just think of this is that, this being that, but this is like that, so similes are metaphors too. It’s about language as a moving, living thing. There is something so intoxicating and delightful and addictive about writing about language itself. I love it. 

But I have nothing really to say about words here. Nothing new or special. Just that metaphor is a way of poetically understanding, interfacing, struggling with the world. It can be a way of getting lost. When Trungpa talked about drala as seeing with the heart, this is seeing metaphor, not in a top down, fancy way, but in a moment to moment way. Touch and go, as they say. So when you, or I, attempt, succeed, fail, to apply a technique, whatever technique, we are working with metaphor, which is to say, there are things within things, things behind things, and this masked or shadowy sense is one application of metaphor, as a way to communicate with oneself using language.

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