The only reality we can ever truly know is that of our perceptions, our own consciousness, while that consciousness, and thus our entire reality, is made of nothing but signs and symbols. Nothing but language. Even god requires language before conceiving the universe. See genesis: in the beginning was the word.
The ensouled is distinguished from the unsouled by its being alive. Now since being alive is spoken of in many ways, even if only one of these is present, we say that the thing is alive, if, for instance, there is intellect or perception or spatial movement and rest or indeed movement connected with nourishment and growth and decay. It is for this reason that all the plants are also held to be alive . . .
Science corrects the old creeds, sweeps away, with every new perception, our infantile catechisms, and necessitates a faith commensurate with the grander orbits and universal laws which it discloses yet it does not surprise the moral sentiment that was older and awaited expectant these larger insights.
The perception of the comic is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost, his fellow-men can do little for him.
There is an intellectual function in us which demands unity, connection and intelligibility from any material, whether of perception or thought, that comes within its grasp; and if, as a result of special circumstances, it is unable to establish a true connection, it does not hesitate to fabricate a false one.
But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in taoism and zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As lao-tzu said, "the scholar gains every day, but the taoist loses every day.