Yes, but does that mean that words and images are inseparable?
Words and images, originally, were inseparable. But as the language developed, images and words became remote from each other. Our today’s language is not the original language; it is a very developed language in which we have created more and more abstractions; we have removed ourselves from the concreteness. The original language, if you go to the original language, if you study any original language you will find the word expressive of the actual image like vṛitra, in the Veda there is the word vṛitra, there is the sense of tearing: the very word vṛitra has the sense of tearing because as in tearing there is the sound, that sound is captured in the word vṛitra because when you use the word vṛitra there is the experience of tearing. So, original language was all very near and concrete and there was a necessary connection between the word and the image. Words like: ‘hélas!’ ‘Oh!’ ‘Wonderful!’ Even there were expressions, very expressions are such that express to you the images which are involved. But as the humanity developed there was a movement of abstraction and then the words became arbitrary. Today’s language is so rich with arbitrary words, that when you simply pronounce them the images don’t arise. You have to learn especially through dictionary or through a teacher that ‘this’ word means ‘this’, but the words themselves don’t carry images with you. Afterwards when you have learnt a language and you know that this word stands for this meaning, then of course the word when it is pronounced gives that image, but you have to learn it. Without learning there are words that can create images, which are original sounds. In fact that is at the root of what is called “Tantric system”, or bij akṣara: they are sound–words. To know the sound–words, which are themselves vibrant of the things themselves; they are the words, which arise from the things themselves and the sounds that the Tantrics teach you are those kinds of words.
The things that arise from the sounds (??one word??4’30’’)
Also, correct, same thing.
…like each letter and…
Letter has its own meaning. But as we go forward, as we move away from experience, and yet try to understand without experience, that is a special activity, which is the activity of buddhi; manas is the activity of experience, of various kinds that I described just now, of various sensations and various direct sympathy and antipathy and intimacy and identity. But when you have removed yourselves from experience and yet you understand…usually understanding comes about by experience directly. But there is a further capacity in human beings, when understanding even continues when you don’t have the experience. This is the speciality of man; that is why man is called “intellectual rational being”. His very speciality is rationality and humans understand only when there is a direct experience of the senses, of the sense–mind. Human beings understand even when there is no experience and yet they grasp. That capacity begins with image making, word making, and still beyond, when you have concepts.
There are three concepts all of which we think we understand, but of which we have no concrete image at all. We all understand the meaning of essence but you ask anybody whether he has experience of essence anywhere, seen essence anywhere: nobody has experienced by his senses, by his images what is called “essence”. And we all we say we understand essence, what is the meaning of essence. You have seen a film, you have and I have seen the same film and Sarita asked the question to you, “tell me what is main substance of the film”, and you describe it, I have also described it. Now, you have also seen the film and you say that, well, the description she has given is the expression of the essence, but I have not given the essence. Now, how do you distinguish between the two judgements? Whether I have given the essence, or she has given the essence; you understand it better, you have also seen the film. How do you understand whether “this” is essence, or “this” is essence? But you know what is the essence. What is that by which you know the essence, of which there is no image? Now, this is one word, which everyone, every human being understands but corresponding to which there is no image. In fact the very definition of essence is: “that which transcends image”. Essence is something that is to be found when you have vanilla taste, you know the essence of vanilla is present, but what is that essence which you call vanilla? Even the liquid that may be vanilla is also that which contains vanilla, it is not itself, that is not seen by you, it is the essence, which is not seen, and yet you grasp it; and you know if it is not present, the whole thing has no vanilla in it. You put a little of it and the whole thing is vanilla, that is the essence. How do you understand this “essence”? We all understand it: that is the special power of buddhi; buddhi is the power of concepts, by which we understand “essence”, and by which we understand “universal”; this is another example.
Nobody has physically seen the “universal”. All that you have seen is only “particulars”. Even when I have seen this entire cloth…but what is cloth itself? This particular cloth is only a piece of cloth I have seen. But what is cloth itself so that any piece of cloth, I can see this cloth. I say it is not wall, it is cloth; how do I distinguish between the two? That is because in my consciousness, there is an abstract concept of ‘universal’, ‘cloth’, which I can apply to any piece of cloth and say this is “the cloth”. So, the concept of ‘the essence’ and the concept of ‘the universal’ are the two minimum examples of what we may call “intellectual understanding”. In fact when se say that a man is a rational being, what do you mean by saying he is a rational being? A rational being is one who understands “essence” and “universal”.