‘You Must Name His Name!’
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream the rough-and-ready working men of Athens have been greatly honoured: they are to perform a play in celebration of a wedding, which is to be performed for the aristocracy of the city.
Their major concern, once they start their rehearsals, is that they, as working men, must not upset or offend the highly refined and aristocratic members of their audience. Their biggest problem is that there is a lion in their play which, they are afraid, is something “which the ladies will not abide”. They consider various ways of reassuring their audience: Should they have a prologue to explain that the lion in their play is not a real lion? Or should they have the actor’s face visible through his lion’s mask? But Bottom, the weaver, solves their problem brilliantly. “Nay,” he says, “you must name his name! … Tell them plainly that he is not a lion, but Snug, the joiner!”
As satsangis on the path of God-realization, we need to perform a similar “naming of his name”– but with the difference that doing it once only will not do. Our “naming of his name” must happen continuously and unceasingly. There must be uninterrupted clarity in our minds about the identity of the Lion in our lives, the Master.
The theme of clear identity is an important one in our lives as satsangis. When, with our simran, we continuously “name his name” during the course of the day, we are maintaining his identity and his presence in our lives. We should similarly be naming the name of whatever it is that we are busy with during the day. We must always know what we are doing, what we are on about. We must be absolutely clear about the good things and the bad things as they exist around us. It is only when we name their name that we clearly recognize identities and can respond suitably.
When, as they say, you are picking over the garbage dumps of the world, you must know what it is that you are doing. You must name its name. You must say to yourself, “These are garbage dumps which I am picking over!” When you are bending down in a garbage dump, you must not think that you are reaching out for the portals of Sach Khand. Your mind is a deliberate and stubborn entity, and there are millions and millions of lifetimes of garbage picking deeply ingrained into it. To change its orientation will require years and years of very accurately naming the name.
Bhajan requires even greater clarity from us. We must be perfectly clear about exactly what it is that we are trying to achieve. Bhajan is about “catching” the Shabd, and about holding on to whatever we catch for as long and as tightly as we can. It is listening to his Name. It is the goal and purpose of our being satsangis. It is a holy thing, a holy Name, and all our focus and all our attention must be aimed at “catching” it.
We as satsangis share an important characteristic with Bottom and his actor friends: we are as serious about our path as they are about their play. We both see ourselves as playing for very high stakes indeed. Our Master has initiated us, and in doing so he gave us an important role in his own play. What he wants from us, no doubt, is that we take our role seriously – as serioususly as do Bottom and his friends – and that we practise hard, and focus as hard as they do on pleasing their exalted audience. In our case, we also have an exalted audience – of One!
I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
Bible, Isaiah 43:1