Words taking centre stage

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By 2017-06-17

with R.S. Karunaratne

Although we use words in speech and writing most of us do not know their real value and strength. Only a very few people know how words along with sound can be used to direct energy to produce magic effects. Words are more powerful than swords. In fact if you move the letter"s" in "words" to the front, you get"sword." Words have evolved over the centuries for us to use them meaningfully.

The magic quality of words is that they can make us happy, sad or angry. We feel happy when people praise us for something we have done.

However, we get angry or sad to hear negative comments. Have you ever wondered why words hurt us so much? If somebody says, "You are a fool or a knave," you tend to lose your temper. This is because you feel that somebody is attacking you with a sword. Words can hurt you as they vibrate with forceful energy. Pleasing words will penetrate your body giving you a pleasant sensation. Similarly, harsh words will have a depressing effect.


Research suggests that when you speak words, they create a vibration in the earth's magnetic field. Once you know the real power of words you will realize how they affect your listeners. In fact, Confucius said, "He who does not know the force of words cannot know men."

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, used to walk every evening accompanied by one of his students. There was a clear understanding that none should talk during the walk. One day a new student had the honour of accompanying the great Master. The sun was going down when they reached a ridge in the mountains. The student who was overwhelmed by the wonderful scene exclaimed excitedly, "Wow, what a beautiful sunset!" As his disciple had broken the strict rule of silence, the Master turned round and walked back to the monastery. Lao Tzu ordered that the young disciple should never accompany him on his walks. However, other disciples asked the Master what was wrong in commenting on a glorious sunset. What is more, the disciple uttered only one sentence. Lao Tzu told them that his disciple did not see the sunset properly but was only using words. It took some time for the students to understand what the Master said. There is a fundamental difference between perceiving something and experiencing the thing itself.

Politicians are the worst offenders when it comes to wasting words. During election times they can be heard waxing eloquently about their plans to develop the country. Some of them speak for long hours to drive home the point that they are the only saviours who could save the country. They forget the fact that great talkers are like broken pitchers; everything flows out of them.

As Alexander Pope rightly said, "Words are like leaves and where they are most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found."

Public speakers

Some teachers, lecturers and public speakers are also guilty of wasting words. They use heavy Latinized long words just to impress the audience. Accordingto Mark Twain, "An average English word is four letters and a half. By hard, honest labour I've dug all the large words out of my vocabulary and shaved it down till the average is three and a half. I never write 'metropolis' for seven cents because I can get the same price for 'city.' I never write "policeman" because I can get the same money for 'cops'."

With all that we hear of American hustle and hurry. It is rather strange that Americans seem to like more than we do to linger upon long words. They say "elevator" when we say "lift" just as they say "automobile" when we say "motor" or "car."

The American-born British poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) wrote:

"Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,

Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,

Decay with imprecision, will not stay in places

Will not stay still."

Although we are compelled to follow grammatical rules and use correct idiomatic expressions, poets have the poetic licence to change facts and ignore grammar rules when they use words.

William Hazlitt said, "Words are the only things that last forever," Today scientists are trying to record the Buddha's words. They believe that his words are still in existence scattered in the universe.

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