What is an Idea? (Part two)

In our ongoing discussion of diverse meanings we ascribe to the word “idea”, it is good to keep an open mind so that we become more adept at listening and understanding others. This prepares us as excellent candidates for quality relationships with others as well as become more receptive to Buddhist dharma teachings.

Another method to discern the nuances of “idea” is thinking how we process the elements that we add to our worldview in the form of impressions. Have you ever seen the small toy, constructed of some kind of sticky rubber that looks like a frog’s tongue? You flip it out like a sticky whip and pick up something such as a piece of paper. Energetic, gathering of impressions are often like this – flliipt, fllupt. Whether we do that skillfully or not with our energetic inner bases of the senses, the nutritional needs of our perceptions must be satisfied somehow. Impressions are the real food of the senses in the form of data.

I understand that, during Communist time, the many orphan children in Romania were not so carefully cared for. They were not picked up and rarely hugged but were left in cribs and not stimulated in their senses. They had few incoming impressions, just looking at the ceiling. They had nothing to play with, or language instruction. There were even toddlers, three or four years old, who had never been handled. These children could not develop correctly. As they grew, many were unusually in need of psychological healing as well as lacking in ability to gather and integrate impressions. They were starved but did not know it. They did not energetically learn how to gather impressions.

As senses are stimulated, they will produce a harmonic or a dis-harmonic in your inner world. In addition, something happens in your personal perceptual world-view. What is stimulated in your perceptions or inner mental functions has a consonance, (a harmonic), or can become disturbed, (a dis-harmonic), in the perceptions that causes choices and other perceptions to change for better or worse.

Impressions are extremely important for the creation of ideas. So, the word, “idea,” can be the agreed upon language used to discuss the “whatever is known or supposed about something without giving it full weight or needing to agree.”


In ordinary language, that could also mean “opinion.” This is a personal belief or conviction that is unproved by general logical or social methods. By this, we can understand how many philosophies and even cultural values of other countries can become criticized as “ideas of others”. This meaning brings personal validation and pride in our philosophy, our convictions, or our ideas and relegates whatever ideas, convictions, or principles that others are holding as just their opinion.

However, if we examine this objectively and skillfully, we might even feel that we have a duty related to the important task of learning how to get along with others by using language commensurate with the effect that we wish to produce. In a flowing communication, one person might state an important principle or “idea” and the other might respond by saying, “Well, that is your idea.” You do not require too many more words than that to understand that means, “You are certainly well within your rights to think that, but you are probably absolutely wrong.

The more education that you have and use it, the more you become adept at manipulating language, and capable of tongue lashing others. Sometimes the other person does not even know it! It becomes a more educated, sophisticated way of abusing each other! Have you ever walked away from a conversation wondering, ‘Was that person disrespecting me or what exactly were they trying to say?’ Perhaps they left it up to you to figure that out later when they are at a safe distance! To be continued

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