"A woman without her man is nothing."
Demeaning ... but wait ........ the punctuation is missing.
"A woman: without her, man is nothing."
Words have great power to uplift or to crush.
I love what you do!
I hate what you do!
Small change, big difference.
Used by some, words can be instruments of healing, teaching and nurture; wielded by others, they can be weapons of war and instruments of destruction.
Realist landscape paintings use many brushstrokes to convey a detailed scene.
Sumi-e paintings use only a few strokes to capture their object.
In the same way, a verbal description can be highly detailed, or, like haiku, stark but capturing the essence of a moment.
Although enormously powerful, words have enormous limitations. In the same way that a flat picture can only suggest a three dimensional scene, words can only suggest the objects they describe.
To make me imagine a full moon, you only have to say, "full moon" ... unless I have never seen one. Then you will have to use more words to describe it, and even then, the image created in my imagination may be very different from the one you are trying to convey.
But the crux is that words are not the object. They are only a finger pointing at the moon. I tend to think that the closer you get to 'the moon', the more you run into contradictions and paradox because, in the end, words fail.
This is the dangerous realm of koans and word games. I could say that the finger is not the moon, and you could say that the finger and the moon are one. I could say we are both correct, and you could say that neither of us is correct. We are at the place were every opposite is true ... and false.
Does this mean we can't use words to describe what is beyond description, to convey what is outside words and scriptures? In the Heart Sutra, we recite, "Form is none other than emptiness. Emptiness is none other than form." So, yes, we can. But I would add, with extreme caution. To pursue this subject any further is way above my pay grade.
Because words are both powerful and severely limited, they are dangerous. In the hands of a Zen master with the wisdom to see the state of a student's realization, a few skilful words spoken at the right moment may help the student's awakening to unfold. In unskilful hands, the same words could lead the student far astray.
Which is to say, we who are not Zen masters ought to steer well away from this danger zone - especially if we are seen as any kind of font of wisdom. In our eagerness to be compassionate (how wonderful!) may we remember to treat words with respect and use them wisely.
After all, actions speak louder than words.