Hearing your true name


We have been exploring the interplay of the ego, the shadow and the true self and how important relationships are for becoming aware of your true Self and growing into the person God intends you to be.

There is a wonderful story about hearing the name of your true self from the Rabbinic tradition: Rabbi Yehuda Loew ben Bezalel was the greatest Rabbi of his age In Europe, the man who in his house in Prague, created the Golem, the animated form of a man, to which he gave life by putting under its tongue a slip of paper bearing the unutterable name of God. One night Rabbi Yehuda had a dream: he dreamt he had died and was brought before the throne. And the Angel who stands before the throne said to him, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am the famous Rabbi Yehuda of Prague, the maker of the Golem,’ he replied. ‘Tell me, my lord, if my name is written in the book of the names of those who will have a share in the Kingdom.’ ‘Wait here,’ said the Angel, ‘I shall read the names of all those who have died today that are written in the book.’ And he read the names, thousands of them strange names to the ears of Rabbi Yehuda; as the Angel read, the rabbi saw the spirits of those whose names had been called fly into the glory that sat above the Throne. At last he finished reading, and Rabbi Yehuda’s name had not been called, and he wept bitterly and cried out against the Angel. And the Angel said, ‘I have called your name.’ Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘I did not hear it.’ And the Angel said, ‘In the book are written the names of all the men and women who have ever lived on earth, for every soul is an inheritor of the Kingdom. But many come here who have never heard their true names on the lips of man, woman or angel. They have lived believing they know their names; and so when they are called to their share in the Kingdom, they do not hear their names as their own. They do not recognise that it is for them that the gates of the Kingdom are opened. So they must wait here until they hear their names and know them. Perhaps in their lifetime one man or woman has called them once by their right name: here they shall stay till they are silent enough to hear the King of the Universe himself calling them.’ At this, Rabbi Yehuda woke and rising from his bed with tears, he covered his head and lay prostrate on the ground, and prayed, ‘Master of the Universe! Grant me once before I die to hear my own true name on the lips of my brothers and sisters.’ It is our preoccupation what who we think we are and what we have achieved, that we stay in the realm of the ego and never hear our true name. 

In the Gospel of John there is a similar example in the experience of Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday morning, when she does not recognise Jesus in His true form. In this case it is not her achievements or pride that get in the way but her emotions that cloud her vision. Laurence Freeman explains: “Mary suffers the human agony of bereavement and the desolation of irreversible absence.” (p.61)  Thus she does not recognise Jesus when she sees Him standing there and takes Him for the gardener. Only when he calls her by name ‘Mary’ does she turn to him, which is the moment of ‘metanoia’ – seeing beyond ordinary reality to the true reality. Only then does she recognise him in his spiritual essence – ‘Rabbuni!’ – beloved teacher. Laurence Freeman explains: “She is brought to self-knowledge by the simple means of being known by another. He knew her and called her by name. True self-knowledge…is generated by relationship. In such a relationship we feel ourselves known and loved. ….the centre of our consciousness…unhooks from its usual egotistical moorings and relocates in the other. Mary suffered her way through total grief to self-realisation.”

Image by tung256 from Pixabay

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