07/25/2014 12:41 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

The Material Is Immaterial

Everything material emerged from the immaterial. Every building is constructed on a design. Every design is based on an idea.

As Emerson observed, "thoughts rule the world." A thought precedes every action, change, or motion.

In this world, things only have the value we give them. There is no intrinsic value to the jewelry we wear, the cars we drive, the things we buy, or the coin and currency we use to make these transactions. The value of these things is supported by faith and a belief system that provides a symbolic value where there inherently is none. In different cultures, the same value is assigned to a different symbolic currency.

The words we use to describe things are as inexact and conceptual as the things they describe. In other words, the words we use to describe things are not the things they represent. Words merely stand imperfectly for the things they represent in our minds.

Much of the confusion of our day-to-day conversations is a result of this process. The word "table" conjures up a flat surface supported by legs, but the image that comes to mind - the shape of the surface, the contour, height and even number of legs -- is determined by our expectation and experience. Yet, when we say the word 'table' we all assume we are seeing the same thing.

We have it reversed. The material is immaterial. What is real is not what we can see but what we sense. Buildings crumble. Success fades. Flesh decays. We are not immortal, but our thoughts are.