Chapter 15: Life After Death and Rebirth
We use words in two ways. In one way the word is kept within the confines of its known meaning; it conveys only that which is conveyed by its meaning. It fails to go beyond its own limitations. In the other way, the word used communicates much more than its given meaning. The word itself may be small, but its meaning is vast; the meaning is larger than the word itself. Arvind’s way is quite different; while he uses big words, he fails to communicate any great meaning through them. He is known for his long words and lengthy sentences. That is why he always ends up as a philosopher.
When words really take off, when they transcend their given meaning, they enter a world of mystery, they become a vehicle for the transcendental experience. Such words are pregnant with tremendous meaning; they are like fingers pointing to the moon. Arvind’s words are not that pregnant, they don’t have an arrow directed toward the beyond. His words never transcend their given meaning. And there are reasons for it.
As I said this morning, Arvind was educated in the West at a time when, like Darwin in science, Hegel was the most dominant influence in philosophy. And Hegel is also known for the pompous language replete with big words and complex phrases in his treatises. Going through Hegel’s works one has a sense of profundity about them in the beginning. We tend to think that what we don’t understand must be very profound. But it is not necessarily so, although it is true that profound things are difficult to under stand. So many people use obscure words and elaborate phrases to create an impression of depth on their listeners and readers.
Hegel is a case in point: his language is very complex, devious and bombastic - full of lengthy, explanatory statements enclosed within brackets. But as scholarship gained maturity in Europe, Hegel’s reputation declined in the same measure, and people came to know that he knew much less than he pretended. Arvind’s way of expression is Hegelian, and like Hegel he is also a systematizer. He too has not much to say, and so he has to say it in a great many words, and long and involved sentences at that.
Expression has to have a logical and rational buildup. But if it says something which goes beyond it then it means the person saying it has known that which lies beyond words. But if he exhausts himself in his words, which say nothing more than what they mean, then it is clear he is only a knowledgeable person. Going through all of Arvind’s works you are left with a feeling that they are wordy; there is nothing experiential about them. If someone who knows something of the beyond keeps silent, even his silence will be eloquent. But in the absence of such an experience, even a million words will prove to be a wastage. When you say something, you have to say it logically, but if your “something” is experiential it will leave its flavor, its perfume in your every word and metaphor. Not only that, your words will also say that they could not say what they really wanted to say. As far as Arvind is concerned, it seems he has said much more than was worth saying.