• J. W. Barlament

On the Way and its Communication

There is a possibility, regardless of how far-fetched it may feel, that the human experience of the Way discussed in "The Idea of the Way in History and Modernity" is not a uniquely human experience after all. The Way is said to be universal; an ever-present and all-encompassing energy that the entirety of existence is built upon. But if it is, indeed, truly universal, then it cannot be unique to humans to experience it. We tend to think of ourselves as the only ones capable of recognizing the Way, for we operate at a level of consciousness far above any other species, and it must surely take a great level of consciousness to be able to perceive such a monstrous concept. But is this really the case?

Perhaps, every being in existence experiences the Way in every second of its life. Perhaps, it is the default state of being, and a higher level of consciousness only clouds our ability to perceive it uninhibited. Perhaps, those operating at the lowest level of conscious mirror those operating at the highest - without defined thoughts or desires, and filled with an unending sense of universal unity instead. We, meanwhile, are operating somewhere in the middle, and as such, we are both gifted and cursed with the ability to think of ourselves in terms separate from the all-encompassing Way.

Our superpower is certainly not our intelligence or consciousness. In a universe either infinite or nearly so, there must surely be a plethora of beings vastly more intelligent and conscious than us. Our superpower is, instead, the ability to communicate. Language is both the worst burden and greatest triumph of mankind. It hammers down all of our inexpressible thoughts into a neat set of words with crisp definitions. This, of course, gives us the ability to communicate ideas orders of magnitude more complex than anything any other species can communicate. And, at the same time, it also confines the unimaginably vast realm of ideas into boxes of words.

Through language, we can, indeed, build upon each others' ideas and experiences in a way no other species can even dream of competing with. But, in giving ourselves this maddeningly grand ability, we have also unintentionally limited what we can think to what we can say. Our world is shaped by language, and as language is made-up and abstract, so is our world. The real world and the real Way are all but unattainable to beings like us; that is, occupying an only mediocre level of consciousness and limited by language.