The Heart of the Matter
October 09, 2023
Going Beyond Words


This just in! This morning, after breakfast, I began writing an article about the challenge of communicating anything meaningful via words -- how to give voice to the ineffable, how to give shape to that which has no form, how to evoke the deepest feeling of wonder beyond the limitation of language.

It would be way easier for me to wash the dishes in my sink (which I will get to later today), but I am moved to write this piece -- the ultimate Zen Koan -- trying to see my eye with my eye.

I know it cannot be done, but I am going to do it, anyway -- kind of like John Cage's definition of poetry: "I have nothing to say; I am saying it, and that is poetry."

And yet words, at least sometimes, have value. They do. As does music, art, dancing, photography, and a myriad of other forms of self-expression. Indeed, that is a big part of what it means to be a human being -- to step up to the plate or off the cliff and make the effort to give voice to that mysterious, deep-seated, beyond-language essence of who we are at the core of our being.

What follows are some inspiring quotes I found this morning on this fasinating topic. If you have a few minutes, please take a look and let me know, in the comments box below, which quotes move you the most. Merci! Gracias! And a big thank you from the bottom of what I have no words for.

"Words have no language that can utter the secrets of love." -- Hafiz

"Words are the voice of the heart." -- Confucius

"In spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody." -- Aldous Huxley

"Silence hides nothing. Words conceal." -- August Strindberg

"Words are the mind's wings, are they not?" -- Helen Keller

"Prayer is an act of love. No words are needed." -- Teresa of Avila

"True words seem false." -- Lao Tzu

"The reality we put into words is never the reality itself." -- Werner Heisenberg

"Teach me to go the country beyond words and names." -- Thomas Merton

"Experience is the truer guide than the words of others." -- Leonardo da Vinci

"My words itch at your ears until you understand them." -- Walt Whitman

"Your hand is a warm stone I hold between two words." -- Margaret Atwood

"O goddess, bestow on my words an immortal charm." -- Lucretius

"There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen." -- Rumi

"Men who have much to say use the fewest words." -- Josh Billings

"You had better run from me. My words are fire." -- Rumi

"It is the stillest words that bring the storm." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Enough of words. Come to me without a sound." -- Rumi

"I rarely think in words at all." -- Albert Einstein

"The highest truth cannot be put into words." -- Lao Tzu

"Much wisdom goes with fewest words." -- Sophocles

"It's only words unless they're true." -- David Mamet

"Freeing oneself from words is liberation." -- Bodhidharma

"Where words fail, music speaks." -- Hans Christian Andersen

"Words like nature, half reveal and half conceal the life within." -- Alfred Lord Tennyson

"My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel -- it is, before all, to make you see." -- Joseph Conrad

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." -- Ansel Adams

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost." -- Martha Graham

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I have no desires, save the desire to express myself in defiance of all the world's muteness." -- Vladimir Nabokov

"You must forget all your theories, all your ideas before the subject. What part of these is really your own will be expressed in your expression of the emotion awakened in you by the subject." -- Henri Matisse

"Our self-expression is meant to be a manifestation of the silence of our hearts." -- Matthew Fox

"We talk about self-expression, but need to pause and remember that self-expression requires a self to express." -- Julia Cameron

"To the poet fated to be a poet, self-expression is as natural and as involuntary as breathing is to us ordinary mortals." -- Octavio Paz

"Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing." -- Marc Chagall

"Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words." -- Rumi

"If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint." -- Edward Hopper

"Most words evolved as a description of the outside world, hence their inadequacy to describe what is going on inside me." -- Hugh Prather

"When words are both true and kind they can change the world." -- Buddha

"We've been given the opportunity to express ourselves -- to paint beautiful pictures with the strengths we have inside. Each new morning, we can choose to be the most fantastic version of ourselves. Ignore the numbers. Paint outside the boxes. Paint what's in your heart. Paint the most dazzling version of who you are." -- Prem Rawat

"Those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know." -- Lao Tzu (PS: This is something he said!)

Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at October 9, 2023 01:45 PM


Hey Mitch - here are my two favorites - that happened to be next to each other . . .

"Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing." -- Marc Chagall

"Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words." -- Rumi

Thanks for this offering - a lot of good words ! bb

Posted by: Barbara Bash [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 16, 2022 07:28 PM

"There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen." -- Rumi

Such a powerful hidden message in it! God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could hear/listen more! And talk less! It is said that in most conversations, the person who speaks least benefits most, and the person who speaks most benefits least.

Posted by: Mohammed [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2022 02:53 AM

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