Monday, August 4, 2014

What's in a Name?

I want to share with you a significant change in my life. Some of you may know that I went on a couple of mini-pilgrimages this past month. In early July I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a living saint from India, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, or  "Amma for short. A couple of weeks after that, I took a retreat in Virginia at the ashram of the great master Swami Satchidananda. He is no longer in his body, but his presence, love and wisdom can be powerfully felt through all of his devoted disciples that have kept his teachings alive. 
The love of a guru or spiritual teacher can touch a person  in mysterious ways, often difficult to describe. One of the things that became clear to me as a result of these recent journeys is a decision to take on a new name. In the yoga tradition, it is common for one to take on a Sanskrit name,  which is often given by one’s teacher, but can also be chosen by the student. The name may be that of a deity, or a quality that one aspires to embody. Taking on a spiritual name is a way of continually reminding the practitioner to practice and cultivate that quality within themselves.
The new name that I am embracing is Jyoti, which in Sanskrit means the "effulgent Light." I love it because it sounds close enough to my given name, but its meaning reminds me of the radiance of my true nature. So when my awareness becomes clouded by negative thoughts, fear, or simply forgetting Spirit, just having someone call my name will be a gentle and loving reminder of who I truly am. 

I won’t be offended if you still want to call me Jody, but if you do remember to address me as Jyoti, I will be most delighted and grateful.

                        asatoma sadgamaya
                     tamasoma jyotir gamaya
                     mrityorma amritam gamaya

                     OM shanti shanti shanti

                               Lead me from the unreal to the real
                               Lead me from darkness to light
                               Lead me from the illusion of death to knowing myself as Eternal
                               May there be universal peace

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