These days, in my short early morning drive from home to the temple, there are lots of rabbits all along the road. They so clearly reflect my feelings to me. When I am calm and peaceful, they remain still, as I drive right by them, not even moving off the road. If I am in a hurry, they scurry off into the bushes when they sense my distant car approaching. With great accuracy, they spontaneously feel me through my driving.
Last night, I was chatting with a person from the ashram. We were trying to articulate feelings and mindsets. No words seemed to work just right. What seemed to sort of work for one of us just felt blatantly incorrect to the other. There was a huge gap between the feelings we felt, and the words we used to try to articulate those feelings. The more words, the bigger it seemed the gap became. Yet I could tell that we were both feeling the same thing. Assigning words to the feelings only undermined our communication.
We humans rely heavily on words. Animals are not burdened with words. Maybe that is why so many people love their pets. With pets, we stay with feelings unencumbered, unfettered, uncompromised, undistorted by words.
When someone says something, we tend to hold on to how their words affected us. That is rarely completely consistent with the feeling, the motivation, behind those words. The words, then, take on more significance than the feeling they were intended to convey. When we reflect on the interaction, we reflect on the words that were said, that clouded the communication, not the feeling behind them.
Words are most often defining, limiting, and misleading. Feelings are pure, honest, and genuine. We do well to give lots of space around words that we share. We do best to feel what is behind those words. Sincerity lies in the feelings that lie deeper than the meaning of the words we use. Words, at best, point in a general direction.
When we try to communicate with another, we do well to pay more attention to the underlying feelings than the meaning we assign to their words.