What Does It Mean That Words Are Symbols Of Symbols

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It is easier for me to understand the words being "symbols of symbols" teaching from the Manual for Teachers when I apply it to things of this world. After all, it is only in this world where things like words and symbols exist anyway. I have an idea in my mind of a living thing with roots in the ground, a trunk that shoots skyward, branches that reach and spread, and broad green leaves that catch the sun – a tree. I project that idea onto the world where I see a symbol of the thing in my mind. I see and feel a large "living" organism with roots, truck, branches, and leaves. I see and feel a tree. But that tree I see and feel is just a symbol for the idea of tree I have in my mind.

Now, in order to communicate with my brothers and sisters I manifest a word, a symbol, to refer to the physical tree, which was itself a symbol for the idea of tree I had in my mind. The word "tree" is a symbol for the physical organism with roots and leaves, the "tree," that was itself a symbol for the idea of "tree" I had in my mind. "Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality." (OrEd.Mn.21.1)

The "reality," in this case, is the idea in my mind. The first symbol is the object in the physical world – the tree. The second symbol is the word we use to refer to the object, the word "tree." The word is a symbol of the physical tree, which is a symbol of the thought tree.

I believe Lesson 325 means exactly what is says literally. "Lesson 325 -- All things I think I see reflect ideas." If I think I see a tree it has to be because I have an idea of "tree" in my mind. There is no world out there. "There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn" (OrEd.Tx,18.49) It's an illusion in my mind. It's a dream. In a dream at night, if the dreamer encounters a tree, it is because an idea of tree is in the mind that is dreaming. We are dreaming the three dimension world that seems to appear in front of us, "outside" of us. In truth, there is no outside. "He always perceives this world as outside himself, for this is crucial to his adjustment. He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him." (OrEd.Tx.11.29)


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