The Meaning Changes with the Language

In Hebrew, Maya means water flowing, like a brook. In Hindu philosophy, Maya is illusion. It’s Old Persian for generous and in Buddhism, Queen Maya was considered to be the mother of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama.

In the Muslim world, the name Maya means princess or honorable matriarch. In Nepal, Maya means love.

How can one word mean so many different things? Illusion is not something we want to be focused on, but to flow like the river is a beautiful wish. We speak the languages we know, with the meanings inferred by personal perspective.

Which means so much of life is subjective.

So how can we inhabit this world together, when what I say means something different to you than I intend it? How can we bestow a name on our children with the best of wishes and have them grow up to believe they are saddled with an awful moniker?

Are we so blinders-on small-world that we can really only stay true to our own definitions of right and wrong? Because the more I travel and the farther I go, the more I see that we are the same – except the words change and so we have to listen more carefully and speak less.

Perhaps that is the true lesson. Listen more, speak less. Observe. Don’t step into the milieu until you’ve completely understood the game.

I spent the holiday visiting with my brother’s family. My nephew plays soccer and hockey, and I’m told that while he may not score much on the turf, he is keenly observing where the ball needs to go and positions himself in the most useful place.

That’s the key to success: watch, wait, listen, move when you are confident of the direction the game is taking. Put yourself where you can be most useful. Don’t assume the meaning is the same to everyone else as it is in your head.

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