eckhart tolle teachings

Naming and Labeling Our Experience

The ego names our experience because it cannot directly live it.

Although few of us really know it, it is the nature of all human beings to live in a pseudo-reality of concepts.

We look at a tree and we know it by its name, not its essence. We think, "What a beautiful oak tree", but we don't feel its aliveness. Our awareness and experience of the tree stops with the words "oak tree".

Our entire life is lived this way, constantly naming every thing and every one. We even name events and experiences. We take a trip to the ocean and we chop up our experience into little pieces that are conveniently named so that we can tell others about it later. "We swam in the ocean." "We sunbathed." "We watched the sunset."

As you tell your friends of your trip, are you merely uttering the names describing each experience, or are you reliving the experience as if it were happening now and speaking of your trip from your present-moment enjoyment and excitement?

More often than not, we tell stories of such things from our mental memory. The stories may be interesting and entertaining, but when we speak of them from the conceptual memory and not from our own sense of aliveness, the stories are flat.

We even name our own inner experiences, such as the emotions we experience. How many of us name our emotions rather than feel them deeply and fully? "I'm angry." "I'm sad." "I'm frustrated."

When you speak these words, how angry do you feel? Are you inside the experience of your anger or are you reporting it like a journalist?

It is the ego that traps us in this incessant naming and labeling. The ego is a mental phenomenon and has no capacity to feel. It names our experience and our world because it cannot directly have the experience.

Unfortunatelly, all of these names and labels (along with the ego mind's concepts, images, words, judgments and definitions) blocks true experience and connection with other people. The ego mind keeps us engaged at the level of physical appearance and form, which means it prevents us from experiencing life, ourselves and others directly, in their fullness and magnificence and aliveness.

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