Language and Words


by Seirin Barbara Kohn

In the beginning was the word. What word? In the beginning of humans becoming humans they created concepts expressed in language, i.e. Words. These words have developed into complexities beyond even the Buddha's expectation. We use words to describe the indescribable. We use words to love and to hate. The old saying, "sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me," shows a deep misunderstanding of what human suffering is all about. Words bruise the psyche and they soothe the psychic beasts and demons. What we think, how we name, our descriptions and actions all contribute to the wondrous and awesome experience of being people. In this copy of Just This, our topic is language/words. We asked folks to use words to speak of words or to paint a picture leaving the words to the viewer. Please join us in the remarkable creative possibilities of our language instinct.

— Seirin Barbara Kohn is the head teacher of the Austin Zen Center, and currently on sabbatical.

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