For what is the true name of God? Many spiritual traditions claim to know God’s true name, and with that they claim that only their path is correct. Yet, when we look at the idea of God having one true name, we begin to see that it no longer makes sense on various levels.
When we give something a name, it is done for a very specific reason. Names are used solely for the purpose of identifying and distinguishing different objects from one another. Yet, when applied to God, how can we distinguish God from “not-God” when God is all there is?
I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me…
~Bhagavad Gita 10:8
On another level, we as humans do not have one true name, so why would that which is infinite reduce itself to solely one name? We have our birth certificate names-which some people never use. We have our nicknames that only some people know us by. Depending on our relationships our names change. For some we are known as Mother. For another we are known as friend. If we change and use so many names within our lifetimes, what to speak of That which is the source of all spiritual and material worlds?
Instead, all the different names of God are true names of God as they represents different aspects of God. It is conceptually impossible to understand God in His totality. There are things within our material universe that in our current level of evolution will not be understood by us. Instead, the different names of God are used and available for us for not everyone will be attracted to same conception of the Divine. Not everyone will feel an affinity to the same conception of God. Therefore, we are given endless names and attributes to help us, within the limited capability of our human understanding, to know something of God.
If we look at some of the more common names and manifestations of God we will see that they all represent different aspects that will appeal to different types of people.
Jesus was known as the Christ. Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or “Messiah.” This being the case, the name of God as the Christ was presented to those whose relationship with God was that of servitude to the Savior. God in His function of saving and uplifting humanity as a whole.
Shakyamuni was known as the Buddha. Buddha simply means “awake.” To be awake in this context is to be clear as to the true nature of reality, as opposed to when we are sleeping and dreaming. The nature of our reality in dreams is vastly different from the reality we find once awakened from the dream. The understanding is that although humans are not physically dreaming while being physically awake, their understanding of the world is so drastically contrasted with ideologies, that most lived out their lives as if still dreaming. Therefore, God in the function of “awakeness” has presented Itself.
The name Krishna means “all-attractive.” A beautiful commentary of this name has been given by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his book; “The science of Self-Realization” as follows; “God attracts everyone; that is the definition of ‘God.’ We have seen many pictures of Krishna, and we see that He attracts the cows, calves, birds, beasts, trees, plants, and even the water in Vrindavana. He is attractive to the cowherd boys, to the gopis, to Nanda Maharaja, to the Pandavas, and to all human society. Therefore if any particular name can be given to God, that name is ‘Krishna.'”
Another name presented in Scripture for God is the name; Narayana. This name can be defined as “the sustainer of all things.” That which sustains all things, and that which we cannot live one moment without is known as God.
Of course this list can continue endlessly, for there is no ends to the attributes of the Divine. Of all these beautiful and meaningful names how can any of them solely be the True name?
And if we explore a little deeper a question will naturally arise; “If God is dwelling within me as my very essence itself, what is the relationship between the name I am known as and God’s Holy name?”
As if in anticipation of such a question, God has given us one of his names so that we can use and, by using, remember that we are never in separation from Him.
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
There is a beautiful story within the Torah where Moses was instructed by God to free his people that were currently being enslaved by the Pharaoh of Egypt. After God instructed Moses to return to the Pharaoh and have him release the people that were enslaved, Moses naturally wanted to know on whose authority shall he go? For it was clearly understood that he as he was did not have an authority over the Pharoah of Egypt and there was no chance that the Pharaoh would listen to anything Moses had to say on his own authority. The name given to Moses as the authority by which he was to move forward is a name all of us share and a name all of us use on a daily basis; “I Am.”
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
The name of the Divine is not hidden from us for it is the very name of us all. We cannot even introduce ourselves without first speaking one of God’s glories names. To say to someone “I am John” or “I am Amy” first one speaks the name of the God Himself. ”I Am.” Even to describe our occupation we also first honor God. To say “I am a teacher,” or “I am a doctor” we are first honoring and remembering God. This “I Am” is the name that God Himself has given us. In His infinite compassion, not only is God making Himself known to us, despite the fact that our mere human intelligence can never fully grasp the true nature of God, He has nevertheless given us one of His own names to use as our own.
To truly recognize the sanctity of God’s name, to truly honor God’s name is to also honor our name, to honor the form that we are currently embodying and living our life through. For our secondary name, the name we were given at birth or the name we choose to go by is infused, is made hallowed by the Divine name of God.
To truly honor the name of God, to truly honor the commandment that was given by God to Moses to “not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is to truly honor the name you yourself carry. It is to honor the names of all we meet. Which is the same as honoring every one that we meet. For regardless of whatever name or wording that comes after this “I Am” all of us share the same name.
The name of God Himself.
(An excerpt from a Agnisattva’s in-progress book).