Name of God

You might have been told, at some point, to be specific in your language. Don’t merely say flower if what you mean is Jonquil or the Partridge Pea or Pansies. Give things their proper name, we are told. Don’t say thingy, whatzit, or thingamajig.

How, then, to approach the name of God?

If I say Elohim or Adonai, or Jehovah-Yahweh, or Jehovah-Rapha, or El-Shaddai, or El-Olam, or Abba, or Love, or Creator, or Higher Power, or Everlasting Father, or Great Shephard, or Holy One, or Holy Spirit, or I AM, or King Eternal … do I mean something different from what I mean if I say Supreme Being, or Source, or Truth, or Yazad, or Bhagwaan, or Maheshvar, or Waheguru, or Allah? Will I be better understood if I speak of Adjuru, or Amba, or Embu?

172 names for God have been counted in the Old and New Testaments. The Zoroastrian community, so I read, recognizes 1001 names of God, and translations of those names range from Without Cause, to Primal Cause, to Who Reaches Everyone Equally, to Without Shape, to Keeper of Accounts. One name means Detached from All, and the next, Connected with All – and both make divine sense. One means Beyond Reason, and the next, Sovereign Reason. Then there is one that means Supreme Transmuter of Fire into Divine Sparks.

These names arose through the efforts of human beings at various points in time at different places on the globe, seeking communion with the Sacred. So every name resonates. Every name works. I can say God without insisting that you use that term. You can say Ham-chun without requiring me to understand it exactly the same as you do.

What’s important is to know that we are all using the proper name.

           

Journey to God

I’m sure that journey to God is a subject this blog will come back to many times, but a line from A Course in Miracles pretty well sums up my present understanding of it. The line reads: “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always and what you are forever.”

This line returned to my memory after I had written the previous blog post, so I’ve been living with it for a few days, and it reminds me – again – that I want to do everything I can to nurture that reawakening and avoid anything that might hinder it. The reason it resonates is that it tells me that there is nowhere special I need to go and nothing in particular I need to become before I can have a relationship with God. I already am where and what I need to be. So are you.

           

Feelings

There’s a place for feelings, but not a very prominent one. The truth is that if you let them, your feelings will totally drown out your communion with your inner self, your sense of connection with Spirit. And if you let that continue for, say, a few decades, it may become almost impossible to unclutter that connection – or you may simply no longer be able to muster up the desire to do the uncluttering.

Here’s a way to think of it that can help: your feelings may be strong and urgent, but they are ephemeral. Your spirit may be so quiet as to appear to be easily swamped, but it’s eternal. The quality and content of the guidance you will be given by your feelings will probably be quite different from the guidance from your spirit. I’d rather let my life be led by eternality than by ephemerality. How about you?

           

Formal Religious Services

So do I have to go to church? Is it okay to skip synagogue for a while? It’s tough to have “everyday spirituality” if you think your spirituality is confined to that once- or twice-weekly formal religious observance, but the large issue of community vs. individualism is important. If you are now firmly entrenched on one side or the other of that continuum, your concept of the opposite side may be equal parts mysterious, nebulous, and dubious. (I know because that’s how I used to feel about the whole “worship in community” thing.)

I believe that a close, personal relationship with God is available to every one of us  – which makes me a mystic – and it’s extremely important to cherish that and live within it daily. But it’s in community that you are given opportunities to give, to love, to help each other. This perspective was brought home to me in a book entitled The Holy Longing by author/priest Ron Rolheiser: “We go to church to tell people we love them and, hopefully, to hear them tell us the same thing. In the end, we go to church to help ready each other for death.”

Your spirituality will be benefited by taking a moment to consider where you currently are in the individualism/community continuum.