Thinking Aloud: The Power of the Word

Originally printed in the July - August 2002 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Rajan, Ananya S. "The Power of the Word." Quest  90.4 (JULY - AUGUST 2002):146-147.

By Ananya S. Rajan

Much can happen in an hour. Even during an hour of driving you can catch up on the latest news on the radio, make a few phone calls to friends you never seem to have time for, or listen to your favorite CD from start to finish. I look forward to my hour-long drive to work, as otherwise I don't have much time to myself, but in my car I am alone and can do whatever I want. It's liberating.

One recent morning as I drove to work, I heard a little voice telling me not to turn on the radio or pick up the phone. It was a strange sensation, knowing that this particular morning my phone wasn't going to ring because the little voice wasn't going to allow it. For some this may sound frightening, but I delight in such things and always have. I take it as a journey into the unknown with the attitude of "what can I learn today?" and I have realized from years of meditating that whatever lesson I need to learn is for my own betterment. Some lessons are easy to understand, while others pull me through the wringer and make me want to go back to bed.

On this particular morning, the feeling was different . . . serious.

"We talk too much" was the first statement I heard. It evoked a reaction within me that was not pleasant, so I braced myself for one of those lessons that was going to be harder than others.

Nothing happened for a while after that. I sat in silence listening to the hum of daily life, watching the endless stream of cars heading toward some destination or other and the massive number of people talking on their cell phones while driving. It seemed surreal to watch an example of what I had just been told.

"The word is a very powerful tool, but we no longer use it as such. It has become vulgar and desecrated." That was the next thing I heard as I watched people in the other cars talking, absorbed in the reality we call life.

As I watched, I recalled many examples of myself in conversation. I could remember trying to express my point of view, feeling the clenching in my stomach like a small child wanting to blurt out the right answer. Looking at those memories from a distance in time made me see how silly the events looked and also how much it helps our human ego to feel we have something profound to say.

"It has all been said before," I was told. And as I began to feel a little disillusioned, I recalled reading somewhere that there is no difference between the word and the breath (prana). The breath is the word and the word is the breath. So often we take breathing for granted because it is something we do without thinking. Just like talking, I thought.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Breath, and the Word was Breath" popped into my head. I felt awed by this statement and everything stopped. Suddenly it all made sense in the way I interpret the world.

Theosophical teachings speak about the Breath of the Universe, and in that Breath there is creation (manvantara) and there is rest (pralaya). Because humans are the microcosm of the macrocosm, created in the image of all that is and a reflection of the forces of the Universe, we hold that power of the Universe within us. We've been given Breath and, from that, the ability to create vibration to make sounds and therefore words. We hold the power within ourselves to create and bring equilibrium to our world through our breath and therefore our words. What an amazing ability we have. If we really think about it we might never speak again!

The use of breath in healing (prana healing) has become one of the latest practices among holistic healers. However, I think we need to be careful about practicing such methods. They come from another culture, originally taught in another language, and to practice them well and be considered a healer took many years. Today's New Age practices are a shallow fast-food version of ancient practices that yogis dedicated their lives to learning. You could not develop such practices on your own; others had to give you the right to use them.

When I arrived at work that day, I felt a mixture of emotions. It is one thing to understand something mentally and quite another to feel it penetrate into your very being. Stepping out of the car into the fresh air helped to clear my head a little. I began to think about the opening verse of the Gospel according to Saint John: "In the beginning was the Word . . . ." Yes, I already understood that part, but "The Word was God . . . ."? For some reason, that rubbed me the wrong way. We've had enough turmoil in this world in the name of God. What is this Word? What was the original Word? What was the import of the Word? As I asked myself those questions, suddenly I heard the very soft voice say:

"The Word is Love."

Enough said.

Ananya S. Rajan, M.P.A., is an editorial assistant for the Quest magazine and the director of the healing department for the Theosophical Order of Service. This is her first contribution to Quest.

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