Fifty years ago, Dr. Janet Smith Warfield had a mystical experience. It wasn’t something she was trying to have. She didn’t even know what it was. She just knew she had experienced a sudden understanding and clarity.
Nothing outside her changed. All that changed was her understanding of her external world. Suddenly, she was looking at everything through new eyes.
She had to tell others. No one understood. How could she use divisive, analytical words to communicate a unifying, holistic experience? It was like trying to use a screwdriver to hammer a nail.
Mystical experiences have always been called “ineffable.” They cannot be talked about with any kind of accuracy.
Janet began playing with words, discovering all the creative ways they structure our experiences. She wrote poetry, essays and stories; she journaled. she questioned. Words were illusions, dancing at a masked ball. They were fingers pointing at the moon. They were not the moon. However, they could also be used alchemically as powerful, transformational facilitators.
Alfred Korzybski wrote, “The map is not the territory.” The words are not the experience. The menu is not the food you eat and savor.
There is this unifying, holistic, enlightening, transformational experience that has been experienced by people all over the planet from the beginning of time. It has been named by different people in different ways: salvation, enlightenment, satori, awakening, “I am aware.”
As soon as anyone tries to talk about it, they are creating a conceptual map of the experience. Each map is different, and the map is not the territory. The words are not the experience.
Socrates used questions. Jesus used parables. Buddhists teach the Noble Eightfold Path. Zen Buddhists use koans.
For fifty years, Janet has had many holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences. For 22 years, she practiced rigorous, left-brain law. Throughout her life, she has been playing with our human-created language and honing her people skills.
Out of this, an art form has emerged that Janet calls “Word Sculptures.” Word Sculptures uses words in atypical ways (paradox, metaphor, allegory, poetry, questions, deep dialog) to shift people into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace.
When we change our words, we change our world; our emotions change, our actions change, and our relationships change.
If we all understood what we humans do with words, together, we would be astonishingly powerful and effective in co-creating the dynamic, respectful, peaceful, powerful, prosperous planet we all need to survive and thrive. Listen here