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what’s in a name?

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A comment followed yesterday’s post: “… the question is not where your food issues arise from, but rather what makes you feel you’re … not worth cherishing?” Yes, two aspects of a complex issue! In response, instead of seeing things as either/or, with one explanation being perceived more important than another, I’m simply adding the commentator’s suggestion to the mix. In doing so, I let the imaginary container of possibilities grow in size, leaving room for other ideas to pop up or yet others to fall away.

Humans like to name things. When we do so, reality/truth may be revealed, restricted, even lost. Here’s an example. A while back I attended a talk by an ordained Zen teacher who mentioned God as part of his/our practice. When I relayed this to a friend, she dismissed the talk (and my report) by saying “I don’t believe in God … nor do Buddhists!”

My clumsy attempt to steer the conversation from the G-word toward the broader notion of Ultimate Truth, say, were unsuccessful and we let the topic drop. Naming things helps bring them out of the closet and can lead to useful discourse. However naming things without an honest exchange of beliefs and assumptions can bring differentiation and distance.

Just look at the way Rumi, the ever-popular poet of ancient times, uses the term Beloved. To him it’s code for “divine love” (what others might name “god”) and Lover short-hand for “seeker.” Here he points to the lover’s ego’s extinction as a feature of deep spiritual practice:  

The Beloved is all; the lover just a veil. 
The Beloved is living; the lover a dead thing.

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