Mind Matters 6—What’s In A Name?

Over the past few episodes, we have explored several areas of the mind—its nature and composition, tendencies and delusions, the paradigms of joy and sorrow, making the right choice between preyas and shreyas, about the objects of meditation, and also delved into the states of waking, dreams and dreamless deep sleep. Whilst the ins and outs of the mind are now clear as mud, what fundamentally lies in and out of this mental plane is pristine.

The Divine Name of God is what lies inside and outside of us. Say we are asleep. Even a bomb going off inside the dream will not wake us up, for all that is happening in that paradigm is within the bounds of imagination. But when someone outside that plane even gently taps us, we spring out from our dreams. An external stimulus was needed to perceive reality. Likewise, when we are deluded by the fancies of maya, a gentle touch from an external source (from another plane) is needed to awaken us. That touch is from a Guru, who uses the vibrations of the Divine Names as His magic wand to wake us up from delusion.

God’s Name is not external to us either. It is the substratum – the foundation—upon which the reality of body, mind and intellect resides. That internal basis is in a different plane outside of the realms of our senses and hence ‘imperceptible’ to the common man. If we take this body out of the equation, it would become apparent that that very Name which came externally from the Guru, also lies within.

Continuous chanting establishes the unbroken conduit to its source within. The means and the end are both one and the same, and that is made apparent only when the end is reached. So how do we believe this ‘theory’, one may ask. There-in lies the genius of it. When ‘unrealized’ it is a mystery to ourselves. When ‘realized’, it becomes inexplicable to others. The conflict is not a cop out. The fact is that these two states are in different planes, and we need to refer back to the ‘coming out of the dream’ analogy to relate to the planes. What bridges the planes is unflinching faith in the preceptor and the scriptures.

When we ‘faithfully’ tread the journey of life, with the Guru as the guide, and Nama as the means, it ensures inner transformation. His Holiness Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji suggests that we first chant aloud externally and then gradually internalize the process. Over time, the mind gets conditioned to constantly chant the Names subconsciously while engaged in the routine life. Such a process is needed to unwind ourselves from habits and tendencies accumulated over time.

The Divine Name is pure in itself, and has the potential to purify all that it comes into contact with. It is not a normal sound, but the sound of silence – one that can quieten the mind and bring it to a standstill. When the Lord’s Name gets in constant contact with our minds, it will turn our thoughts inwards, remove our delusions, enable us to surpass the duality of joy and sorrow, guide us suitably to choose shreyas over preyas, orient our meditation in the direction of love, and finally help us cross the three states of waking, dreaming and dreamless deep sleep to merge in unison with Itself – the Supreme Self.

Sriram Ramanujam, Houston, TX
Illustration: Sripriya Sarathy, Charlotte, NC

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