REDISCOVERING YOUR SPIRITUAL NAME
What is a name? It seems so simple. It is what you are called. You hear it every day. But what if you found out that you had another name, a spiritual name? This name is what you are really called and it also contains your calling. The Sikh master Yogi Bhajan captures it perfectly: “Your spiritual name is your designated destiny, your heavenly identity. That’s all it is. You may or may not live to it, but it is your guiding force. And it’s a prayer. When somebody calls me ‘Yogiji,’ it means ‘one who is united with the greater soul.’ When somebody calls me ‘Bhajan,’ it means a ‘divine song.’ And if somebody calls me ‘Harbhajan Singh,’ it means ‘the lion who sings the divine song.’ It’s a prayer in the other man’s word. What is prayer? It is a calling. And you answer the calling. You get uplifted. It’s a plus. It’s a way of receiving people’s blessings.”
I love Yogi Bhajan’s words on having a spiritual name because they call to my heart, just like my spiritual name does! I have taken the time to write about my spiritual name as a reminder to myself and an inspiration to others!
Before I even really knew about “spiritual names”, I found myself having one at the age of 15! Sudhana. My first spiritual teacher, Dharma Instructor Ernest Do, gave the name to me. He told me that the name meant “Child of Wealth” or “True Wealth.” It is funny looking back on “True Wealth” now, knowing that wealth comes from the middle English “welthe” which means well or health. So really -wealth- far from the meaning of monetary gain, which it is associated with today, has always been related to health. I loved this meaning of the name because it truly inspires me to be the healthiest version of myself in all my relationships.
At the time I was given this name, I was going through major spiritual changes in my life. I was raised Catholic but did not want an intermediary between the divine and me. So, I started going to the Mun Su Sah Korean Buddhist Temple where I felt my heart aligned with authentic spiritual practice. I even began taking one-on-one Dharma (teaching) classes with Ernest Do, an International Dharma Instructor of the Chogye Order who taught me for nearly two years. At the end of my training, I became a Dharma Instructor and also took my bhodhisattva vow, a pledge to free all beings from suffering and not be completely liberated myself until all beings are fully liberated.
Taking this vow was a big deal in my life because it aligned me with the desire to do what is best for all beings and myself. The spiritual name I received on the day of the ceremony signifies my dedication to leading a liberate life for the benefit of all. I loved that “Sudhana” was just like me: A young boy looking for answers. In the Gandavyuha Sutra, Sudhana travels around India seeking enlightenment from 53 masters at the behest of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. This is the same enlightened being whom the Korean Temple was named after! I loved Sudhana’s journey so much I ended up writing my college thesis about it! But that is a story for another post.
Many years passed and I kept the name Sudhana in my heart. Yet I knew that I had another spiritual name that went back to the beginning of my existence. The only thing was I couldn’t remember! In the early months of 2015, Altair, my spiritual mentor, urged me to remember my spiritual name. I meditated on it sporadically but had no recollection. In early March, Altair asked me by what names I called the divine. “Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Shekinah, Mother and Amma” were the names I told him. The first three signify the male aspect of God while the latter three signify the feminine aspect of God. Altair knew the names by which one calls the divine is directly related to the name by which the divine calls us. Little did I know telling him the name “Amma” would be so helpful in recovering my own name. Amma is of course, the sankrit name for ‘Mother.’
Altair told me to pray to the Mother to reveal my spiritual name. I did! The next day, Altair told me that he received a vibration which imparted my spiritual name. He said my name was “Anahata.” I gasped and hit my palm to my head in stupidity and disbelief. As cliché as it is true, I had recently rediscovered my spiritual name and couldn’t believe that I forgotten it again!
In early July, I went to see Amma at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. She is supposedly the incarnation of the Indian Goddess Kali. Amma is known as the hugging saint because she has hugged more than 33 million people worldwide. It was a surreal experience. I saw her sitting on a giant stage surrounded by throngs of followers. I waited a few hours to be hugged by Amma. As the line approached her, everything became hectic and chaotic. People were being led to kneel before her and after they were hugged, the people were swiftly led away to make room for more people! The atmosphere was very uplifting and she definitely exuded a ton of unconditional love! As for the hug itself, it was great! I guess after 33 million you sort of get the hang of it. After the hug, an attendant asked if I wanted to have Amma as my guru. I said, “Sure, why not!” I liked what she stood for and I was excited to see what the process entailed. So, I was ushered to sit in a circle where a man talked about what it meant to have a guru. He spoke about devotion, mala beads and working with a mantra. He told us that we would go up to Amma again and tell her our spiritual name and then Amma would give us a mantra. I had about 20 minutes to write down my spiritual name on a piece of paper. Nothing was coming to mind. Eventually, I struck onto the idea of sound.
Sound is my deepest connection to the divine. A few months before, I had begun to hear the natural sounds of living things and higher realms. So when I tried to find my spiritual name I knew that it had to do with the sounds that were always present; the eternal sounds that echoed throughout infinity. I asked a man in the circle if there was a word for such a sound. “Anahata Nada” he said at once. I asked him what it meant. “In Sanskrit, it is ‘The unstruck sound,’ he replied. I knew at once that this was my name. I have had this name since the beginning and it continues to take on new facets of my being like a diamond web. I could feel the name’s truth resonate in my heart –which is funny— because Anahata is the name of the heart chakra! The heart has such a beautiful sound. It is where the sound of the soul emanates. It is my joy in life to hear the hearts of others and help them rediscover their own soul sound! Anahata Nada is the sound of the celestial realm. It is unstruck because it simply is. It resounds forever. Tuning into the anahata nada as anahata nada has been a profound experience of my whole
being. The sounds and the sensations of the sacred current come in an infinite variety. One moment I can hear a single tone and the next a symphony. It all depends what I am tuning into.
I remembered my name that day and told it to Amma. She gave me a mantra and told me to keep it secret. I later researched Amma more thoroughly and was troubled by some accusations that ex-followers had made about her. Whatever the truth may be, she has helped many people, myself included. It was a gift to remember my name that day. Life moves like lightening and my spiritual name settled in the recesses of my mind. When Altair validated it over half a year later, I laughed at how I had forgotten so easily. Perhaps there is another divine joke there as well; the unstruck sound is also the nameless one. This name really suits me. I can be whatever I need to be to flow to the rhythmic dance of my heart’s beat. I pray you too discover your original name. Mother will help you call to what you are called so it calls you back!
Brian is a teacher, healer and channel who is here to raise the vibration of his generation. He brings the mind, body, heart and soul back into balance through overtone chanting, crystal and tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, and drumming. Brian has the unique ability to hear oto-acoustic emissions, the natural frequencies emitted by the body. His spiritual name “Anahata Nada” means “unstruck sound” and echoes his ability to hear the sounds of the cosmos. Anahata also means heart and speaks to Brian’s passion to help others hear the sound of their heart to guide them on their journey
Brian has been an English Dharma Instructor for the Chogye Order of Korean Zen Buddhism since he was fourteen. He has lived in a monastery in Bodh Gaya, India where Buddha attained enlightenment and studied throat chanting in Dharamsala at the Gyuto Monastery. He has also studied with Fabien Maman, the founder of vibrational therapy and singing bowl guru Sarah Turner. He uses voice analysis software from the BioAcoustic Institute to detect and correct physical and chemical imbalances in the body. Most of all, Brian enjoys learning and teaching from the heart to align all beings with their highest and best!