PureInsight | June 25, 2001
1. Human language is devoid of its original meanings
In our daily lives, many common words and phrases have negative effects on our thinking because we just use them mechanically; they have become clichés. The degeneration of human thought, disseminated through language and words, has become a reality. From heart-to-heart communication that makes words redundant to wordless silence, from poems to old-style writing, and then to vernacular speech in which it takes more and more words to express the same meaning. At the same time, communication becomes plainer and more vapid, and understanding becomes harder to come by. Misunderstandings are more common, and so, of course, there is more need for clarification.
I don't want to waste time talking about blatant invectives here. Shockingly, some neutral words have been assigned incorrect connotations during their usage. Nowadays, it is hard to make yourself understood with words. What is the right way of speech that will accurately convey the message without confusing the listener? Many times in "communication" you feel the speaker is careless but the listener is all ears. This is because the languages have diverged from their original meanings. Language users, driven by their corrupt thoughts, often change the implications of words at will, and this unfortunate trend continues. This has been a long historical process. Today, languages are inundated with hi-tech lighting and sound, and word games have helped human thought collapse.
2. "Natural": a word that has been subverted
The word "natural" serves as a good example to illustrate this. In traditional Chinese writings, "natural" implies "true self", or "true nature" untainted by derived properties, and thus has some "sparkling" characteristics.
Later on, it was mixed up with the western word "nature". Thus, it lost its original meaning that reflects the "innate" innocence of human beings.
For instance, if naturalists are atheists, then what does naturalism mean? How can naturalism imply the denial of God's existence? Look at this phrase, "To fight against nature; to struggle against the tide." The "nature" in this context seems to be contradictory to the inner world of human beings. In Chinese culture, the word "nature" contains, as its most basic concept, the idea of "man and heaven in harmony", but this implication was totally subverted under the attack of contemporary western thought. Alas, nature and human beings are now totally separated from each other. "Nature", as it now stands, refers to all—organic or inorganic—that exist outside of self. It thus highlights the existence of "self." Consequently, man can love "nature", conquer "nature", and rearrange "nature."
Naturalists used the term "naturalism" to counter the misinterpretations of religious teachings made by degenerate churches. However, once they started criticizing the Creation and other ideas in Christianity, they unwittingly undermined the original meaning in "natural" of nature having been created by gods. "Natural" thus came to represent looseness, a license for doing whatever one desired. That made human beings believe that human desire and will were their masters, and the pursuit of personal ideas, desires, and will became something "natural."
3. Abuse of "natural"
In the modern Chinese language, "natural" has taken on very vague meanings and has been used to represent the essence of modern science. The marriage of "natural" and "science" creates another common term, "natural science." In this case, "science" is employed to interfere with the original meaning in "natural" that gods create everything in this world. When I was very young, the primary schools' "nature" class was about the structure of science. For example, biology was fit into the framework of the theory of evolution, promoting the idea that the man has evolved from the ape. Is this "natural"?
Indeed, "natural" is no longer natural to modern people. The word actually refers to passivity in attitude. Read the following passage, "Many people will naturally resort to medication when the symptoms get more serious. The organs within the human body thus respond to the drug while naturally resisting the virus. However, the medical doctors' prescriptions and drugs are only to make the patients feel comfortable. In fact, if you leave the cold alone and put up with it for a week or so, you will naturally recover."
All the three "naturals" above are actually unnatural, since they all imply a touch of irresponsible "indulgence." Think it over and you will be curious: why should we naturally use drugs? Isn't this contradictory with "put up with it for a week or so, you will naturally recover"?
"Natural" in this setting actually reflects a superstition of modern science, an illusion that following scientific conclusions is a natural state. Implicit in this is unconditional acceptance of the causal relationships manifest in the narrow statistical interpretation of scientific experimentation. This "natural" state results from artificial changes, and is far away from true reality.
4. Psychological effects of the use of "natural"
After "natural" became a colloquial term, it has come to represent a certain attitude towards life. "Follow the course of life" is interpreted as passive waiting, as if waiting to see matters shape up into something desirable. It encompasses laziness, irresponsibility, even craftiness. "Natural" thus descended from the realm of "human and heaven in harmony" to that of "interaction between man and nature", and then to an excuse that covers up human resistance to change. This reflects the subtle relationship between human mentality and language, with each of them losing its original referential landmarks at the same time.
In a time when ads are everywhere, "natural" is used to sell goods. For instance, in "Natural is beautiful", "Makes your eyes naturally large", "Natural water molecules", and the like, "natural" has been taken advantage of to package human products. This has made it dirty and cheap! As a result, whenever people mention "embracing nature, commanding the universe", they no longer can appreciate the internal joys and genuine excitement our ancestors would have had. The reason: our thoughts are adulterated by too many unnatural concepts.
Then, what on earth is "natural"? We can never understand it. It has been abused by common people who have damaged its meanings. It has been burdened by layer upon layer of bad matter, which functions in a negative way in our mind. Let's clear it away.
5. Some of my personal reflections
If we cannot truly eliminate these degenerate notions about language and words, it will constrain our understanding of the Great Law in our Fa studies. When studying the Fa, not a single word, not a single line should be interpreted in our own personal way. Of course, consulting a dictionary for the exact meaning of every word is not right either. To change our ordinary peoples' notions, we have to carefully follow Teacher's instructions: we should have peace of mind in our studies and finish it in one stretch.
"Natural" is a term I present here as one example. Actually, every word has a similar story. To illustrate, who dares to say that he really understands the true inner meanings of Teacher's words? Whenever we have interference in Fa studies, it is likely that some of our deep-seated notions resulting from our ordinary peoples' lives are taking effect. Bearing no notions in our reading of the Fa is the only way to ascend in cultivation.
These are only some personal views for your consideration. Thanks, everybody.