In my early life, as I was developing my life philosophy, I wanted to tell others all about it. I was excited. I wanted to spread that excitement. Why? Because I thought I had something the world should know. Mighty arrogant of me, no? In the end I decided to talk about it in little-traveĺed spaces, websites like livereal.com, websites like the one I built at one particular time in my life, and now my website here on WordPress.com. But this website is not aimed at teaching anyone anything, it is aimed at leaving a record of my thoughts, of my philosophy, and of who I have become over the course of my life.
I am going to be honest with you. There was a time I wanted to start something new, something not a exactly religion, but a way of living, a way of understanding the world and helping people manage to find their way through it. In other words, I thought I had knowledge others were seeking. Everywhere around me I saw people seeking for something that they didn’t seem to know exactly what it was, but they were sure they wanted it. And they were sure it could only come from somewhere not inside of them, but outside of them. And I thought I had “it.” But when I tried to give it away, I found nobody wanted my “it.” And I am now glad they didn’t.
Because, in the meantime, I learned the errors of trying to teach anyone anything. To explain, I would like to use as an example the religion of christianity, not because I want to make fun of it, or destroy it, or even try to explain it. I choose this religion simply because it is the one I know best, the one I was brought up to believe in.
I was taught Christ was a man who supposedly called himself the Son of God. I say supposedly because it is quite possible when the books of the New Testament were written (many years after the death of the man) his actual words were forgotten, or mistranslated, or maybe even intentionally changed. There was no video in those days, no tape recorders, nothing that could be used today to confirm the actuality of a person or event. (And in this day of fake news, or alternate news, even recordings and videos cannot be trusted, because they can be changed without the consent of the doer or speaker!) Imagine what could be done to things that happened decades or centuries ago. History is not reliable, it can always be changed. But I digress.
Let us say that Christ was an algebra teacher, and he proved that everytime he multiplied x by y, he came out to the product xy. And so he began to teach x multiplied by y equals xy. He goes to his grave believing and teaching this equation. However, two hundred years down the line, some other teacher suffers from dyslexia, and one day he accidentally teaches that x multiplied by y equals yx. There is no real difference, because xy = yx, yet it looks different to his students, and they believe yx is actually different from xy, so they start teaching x times y equals yx. Then, in the next 1000 years, someone who was taught the product was yx discovers that the original teaching was xy, so he tries to change it back. X times y = xy. This starts a war between the xy crowd and the yx crowd. Christ, when teaching xy, could never have imagined there would come a time when his teaching could cause a war, yet it did. Could he have done anything to prevent this war from taking place? What do you think?
I know he could have prevented it, by never teaching xy in the first place. But once he taught it, then it was out of his hands. Because someone had dyslexia, a fairly common problem, what Christ taught was changed. And later, when someone discovered the error, and tried to change it back, not everyone was willing to let him do that. That is how simple it is to make something wonderful and beautiful into something ugly and destructive. And that is what can happen when a teacher loses control of whatever it is he is teaching.
What happened between the time Christ was alive, and what religions today teach about him, is obviously not as simple as my example above. Yet look at the difference between 2000 or so years ago, and today. Christ’s words, to the best of our knowledge, were never written down in the language which he spoke, or any language, for that matter. They were words handed down by mouth from generation to generation before anyone ever realized how important they could become. Then, when they were written down, probably in Latin, the concepts behind the words may not have been presented factually because there may have been no words for the concepts in the first place. Then, by the time anyone decided to translate the words from Latin into German, or French, or English, and then further translate them into modern versions of those languages, who can know the concepts of today have any similarity to the concepts Christ tried to teach 2000 years ago. I am not saying this was ever intentional, though it could have been, but it is more probable than getting every concept exactly right. Much much more probable.
The thing is, once anyone writes something, or even just says something, that person loses control of what he or she was trying to say, or mean. Christ said things in his own words, in his own language. Today, those words have been retold uncountable times, translated numerous times, retranslated many times, interpreted a million times, and reinterpreted billions of times to the point they may look like something he would never recognize if he were alive today. All this, and not even knowing if a person known to modern times as Christ even existed…
In my algebra example above, I postulated only two groups, the xy group, and the yx group. In reality, I cannot even count the number of different religions or sects that believe they are teaching the words of Christ. One estimate I found was for 43,000 differents denominations, with still more sub-sects and sub-sub-sects under them. And each one of these believes they are the best representatives of what Christ said, and meant. One man, and only one man, and now he has been split into so many parts it is amazing if any one of them even come close to teaching what Christ, in his short time as a teacher, tried to teach.
So how does any of this apply to me, or to anyone else. We, if we want to be teachers, or philosophers, or some kind of leader, all have to remember, once we say them, OUR WORDS NO LONGER BELONG TO US. That is significant, because anyone can take our words, and change them… And we have absolutely no control over what those words are used for…