A reader writes:

The notion that a wave is made of water is, I believe, a false one. A wave is a pulse of energy that propagates through water. If you place a piece of wood in the water and watch it float as waves go by, you will notice that the wood is pushed forward as the wave approaches, then is pulled back as the wave moves on, and in the end, the wood remains in much the same place as it started (this does assume that there is no current in the water. Currents and waves are different things).

Similarly, sound is a wave that propagates through air, the same way, just different media. Claiming that a wave is made of water is like claiming that sound is made of air. The difference is that we have a sense that is designed to bring sound into our consciousness so we can process it. We have no sense for waves in the ocean, other than looking at them.

Understanding this difference is, I think, critical to understanding spirituality. It’s not just an academic exercise.

We have no sense that can process and clearly understand spirituality – God, Budda, whatever you call it. Therefore, spirituality is a mystery. The best we can do is look in awe at the mystery. But that makes it hard for us to discuss spirituality with each other, so we create metaphors to help us talk about what we feel inside.

The wave is a metaphor. Creating a metaphor does two contradictory things at the same time. First, it gives us a common framework in which we can discuss spirituality with each other, which allows us to get closer to the mystery. Second, it cements in our minds a method of thinking that is man-made, not spiritual, which prevents us from getting closer to the mystery.

The quote for the day is one of the clearest examples I have seen of a metaphor that speaks of things we can understand, but hinders us from closer understanding of our own spirituality.

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