What’s in a name?
Some people think their name is very important. In fact, some people are so attached to their name that they actually think they are their name. So, what’s in a name? What is a name, really?
Your name was given to you after you were born. Even though you existed in your mother’s womb prior to birth, no one referred to you by name until after you were born. So, who were you before you were born? What were you before you were born?
Regardless of your opinion of ‘when life begins,’ almost everyone will agree that a child just a month before being born is in fact a complete human being, entitled to all the protections and rights of a new born baby. Question: is the unborn child ‘incomplete?’ Is the unborn child only a ‘partial’ human being just because the child has no name? Of course not.
When my first son was born, we did not give him a name for several months. We just called him ‘beautiful soul.’ That’s all. We did this intentionally because we didn’t want our relatives (or ourselves) to begin treating him like ‘a person.’
You see, we are so much more than just a person. Our ‘personhood’ begins when we get caught up in our name and form. The truth is, in essence, we are neither our name nor our form. Names and forms are always changing. But there is ‘something’ about each and every one of us which is not subject to change or alteration. There is ‘something’ that cannot be adulterated by adults. There is ‘something’ that cannot be superimposed upon, cannot be defined (put in a box), or even imagined. That ‘something’ is who and what you really are. You are indivisible, invisible, invincible Divine Spirit.
You are an Eternal Conscious Being!
Now, I know some people will object to this phrase ‘Divine Spirit,’ so let me clarify what I mean. The ‘spirit’ is simply the energy or life force which empowers the mind to think and gives the body the power to act. This energy-field is indestructible and is beyond both mind and matter, which is why it is called ‘divine.’ ‘Divine’ simply means that which is beyond mind and matter—and what is that?—that is Consciousness.
The life force is the energy that emanates from Consciousness. This is called PRANA. Prana is the inherent force of Consciousness. In essence, you are Consciousness, I am Consciousness, and everyone is Consciousness. You are eternal, I am eternal, and everyone is eternal. You are not temporarily eternal—that makes no sense. If your eternal nature begins at some point in time (such as at your birth in the body, or when you are ‘enlightened’), then that could not be called eternity.
You and I are eternal and we are eternally unique—one of a kind; hence, each and every one of us is also one-without-a-second. You have always existed (though not in your present form) and will always exist. But there is ‘Something’ greater than you and greater than I, which is also eternal, and is also One-Without-a-Second, and THAT is the Supreme. Some call that Ultimate Reality the Supreme Being, some say GOD, others say Paramatma (Supreme Soul), and there are so many other names too.
What is the Purpose of a Name?
When we name something we describe its properties. The properties of a ‘thing’, ‘substance,’ or entity are inherent in it. For example, the property of heat is inherent in fire. The properties of eternal things are eternal, but the names used to designate the properties (qualities) may change according to the evolution of language.
Linguists ponder the question of the origin of language. Where did language originate? Is there an original language? If so, are there elementary words which are inherent in the Universe, just like elementary particles? The Vedic Rishis (sages) have explained that all words emanate originally from OM. Om is the primal seed Mantra. The Sanskrit language is made up of sound vibrations which can ultimately be resolved to this single syllable. These sound vibrations form the roots of words, and both the roots and the original words are eternal in the sense that they are inherent in the sound of OM, which is the sound vibration of the Absolute (GOD).
Now, ‘sound’ means that which is heard. When we hear words in our head we do not hear physical sounds, yet we are still ‘hearing.’ When we ‘hear the Names of God’ it means the mind is reflecting on God’s characteristics. GOD’s names are His qualities; for example: Mitra: friend; Dayalu: compassionate; Atiti: indestructible.
Our own names should also describe our qualities. But nowadays (due to the preponderance of shallow personality) many of our personal names are whimsical and meaningless. This should not be so. A name is not a number used for reference and record keeping. Our name should describe the quality of our essence—it should tell something about who and what we really are. Our name should remind us (and others) of our real nature. When the mind is reminded over and over, again and again, of our real nature, our mind begins to look more and more like who we really are. Then we are no longer confused about who we are.
The mind needs to be ‘washed’ (purified, clarified) with correct conceptions in order to have right perception. In other words, the ‘brainwashing’ must be washed away, otherwise our misconceptions will lead to misperception and misunderstanding, which in turn lead to self-deceit, self-defeat, and self-destruction.
To really be who you are (in essence), you need to do what is essential. The most important thing you can do is to do what you say. Of course, if what you say is not true then you should not do it. Remember: it’s the mind that does all the talking. Your self-talk needs to reflect who you really are, and that reflection needs to be projected through your actions. This is why it is so important to put the right thoughts into your mind, because then the mind will reflect on those good thoughts, and the mind will become better. In other words, it will become a better reflector of who you are; your mind will not present a distorted image of your self. Instead, you will see (with the mind) who you really are and you will be your Self. ‘Being yourself’ means being true to your Real Self; it means doing actions which are in harmony with your real nature.
My name is Jai Maha Dev. What does it mean? It means I am a spark of the Supreme Self; it means my life is for the glorification of that Supreme Being—it is not for self-glorification, selfishness, or shallowness. My name reminds me of my real nature and real purpose. Of course, I need to project these qualities through my actions in order to fully realize (actualize) who I am. This is a process and it is called the ‘art of living.’
The art of living is the unfolding of the truth of being. That ‘being’ is immortal, indestructible, complete, full, and one-without-a-second—but it is NOT one without any equal. On the contrary, we are all equals, and we are all eternal, and we are all permeated with the Light of Supreme Consciousness. That Light is the Wisdom which is our eternal inheritance—there is no greater wealth than that—so we should treasure it.
Eventually everyone needs to awaken to the truth—they need to listen to the Wisdom of Consciousness. When we listen to the Wisdom of Consciousness we are listening to our own Higher Nature. The time will come when we will see God face-to-face. This can only happen when we stop turning our back on the truth. The truth is always staring us in the face—there is no where we can turn to hide from our own Self. So we might as well face the truth and get busy doing the work of refining and reforming our own mind.
Only self-reformation will lead to self-transformation. We reform ourselves when we refine our mind with wisdom and put it into practice. Practice being your Self, that’s all. To practice being your Self, it is helpful to remind yourself who you really are.
Knowing is Doing
Don’t be so attached to your birth name—the name arbitrarily assigned to you at birth—especially if it is not a good reminder of who you really are. In fact, regardless of your name, you should not be attached to it. Remember: a name is only a reminder. Once you know who you really are you don’t need to remember it—but if you don’t practice it, you will definitely forget it, even if you repeat it like a parrot. In other words, ‘knowing is doing.’