Jargon is something that is created within a field of study to further define concepts that are only evident to the people who work within the industry. It’s a language within a language that describes nuances and details important to deeper work in that field. The first thing I do when I start a project is to learn the jargon, so I can better understand the concepts I’ll be using to complete a project.
Many of the projects I do involve translating the jargon into commonly used language for non-experts. However, knowing the language, in no way makes me a master in that field. Masters are the people who work in the field on a daily basis, using the concepts for a practical purpose. A master is recognized by how well he or she can explain jargon with clarity.
The Language of Spirituality and Religion
The jargon of religion is particularly interesting to me because of the number of words created that mean God. Some can be spoken and some can only be spoken under certain circumstances. Some can’t be spoken at all. These are words that exist for the sole purpose of not being used.
Spiritual pursuits also have their own jargon. What has always interested me about spiritual jargon is the number of words created to describe what many believe is indescribable. These are words such as isness, being, gap, oneness, no-self, no-mind, and many more. Unlike other fields of study where jargon is standardized, each writer develops his or her own jargon requiring the reader to learn the language before understanding the insights.
How to Create a Happier Life with the Enneagram was developed using plain, common use language. The project was originally my husband’s idea. While he believes spiritual practices have enormous value, he has no patience for what he calls “spirit-speak.” He pitched the idea for this project to me by asking me to write it for “regular guys” like him, who don’t understand spirit-speak and don’t want to learn it.
At first, I thought that wasn’t possible. Some things are just really hard to describe without jargon, if not impossible. Jargon’s sole purpose is to give a voice to those undefined concepts. And, there was the part of me that believed spiritual matters were a little too mysterious to be described plainly. Besides, shouldn’t spiritual concepts sound inspirational?
Six years after my husband first mentioned the idea for this project to me, I’ve come to agree with him. In other fields of study, how well someone understands the concepts is demonstrated by how well he or she can explain them in simple terms. Perhaps, spirituality should not be an exception. Instead of making the concepts more complex so an interpreter is required, maybe they need to be simplified.
When these concepts are explained clearly, there is no need for a spiritual guide or guru. The teachings themselves are meant to direct people back to their own internal guide. What is important to take away from any spiritual practice is that you are the best guide for your life.
Many of the texts we hold as sacred were written more than 2000 years ago before the sciences of psychology, neurology, physiology or biochemistry. Perhaps, what may have been indescribable two millennia in the past can now be explained clearly, so everyone can understand and use the practices to create more happiness and life satisfaction.
The Simplicity of Mastery
The best teachings about spiritual practices are simple and clear. The greatest spiritual teachers in history kept their message simple. It was the people who came after the original masters who added the complexity.
Buddha instructed his followers with this advice, “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.”
Black Hawk, a Suak Holy Man, observed with irony, “How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right.”
St. Paul admonished early Christians to limit their language in church gatherings to only what benefits all members. Many of the early Christians sought the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues because it was a peak spiritual experience that seemed to bring them closer to God. Paul reminded his students that this was a gift that had no practical purpose in the service of others. He encouraged them to instead seek the gift of prophesy, or teaching.
The message of Jesus was very simple and clear. Love God and love one another. When his disciplines argued over who would achieve the greatest glory in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus told them the one who is the least is the greatest in the eyes of God. He instructed his followers to become like a child in their faith and directed his disciples to actively demonstrate their faith by helping the sick, feeding the hungry and caring for the poor.
The Key to Mastery
Buddha taught, “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do if you do not act upon them?”
The pursuit of knowledge can be very rewarding, but I don’t think it leads to understanding or mastery. The true masters of any field of study are the ones who put their knowledge to use with a daily practical purpose. Their growth is not measured by the degrees they hold, but by how well they can use complex concepts. Knowledge is only the first step to understanding and is worthless without action.
Spirituality and religion are the same as any other field of study. What I have learned is they have more commonalities than differences. The only level of development that really matters is your willingness to put your faith into action. Mastery comes from daily practice for a purpose, not from the accumulation of facts and jargon.