“Love is the experience of selflessness within the self.”Yogi Bhajan
In many traditions names are given, added, or changed to mark significant life events and choices. The choice to be baptized, getting married, or stepping into a new spiritual path are all examples of when one might be called to change their name. This isn’t a choice that is made lightly or without deep thought about what this new name means and what it brings with it.
A spiritual name is a divine vibration. This vibration carries with is its own life, meaning, and lesson. They are to be taken with reverence and honor. Similar to a mantra, these sound frequencies and the act of the tongue pressing on the meridians at the roof of the mouth can cause certain neurological changes to begin. The more it is heard and recited, the more it can blossom into being.
When I was embarking on my journey as a kundalini yoga teacher I had been long searching for a spiritual practice to ground me. I had been raised Catholic and when it came time for me to make my confirmation into the Church, I decided that it was not for me. To be honest, as a gay teenager with an absent mother and tumultuous home life – I was angry at God for what was going on. I lived this way for a long time. When I started to heal my relationship with myself, my mom, and with the universe in general I happened to find my way into a kundalini yoga class. Fast forward a few years of classes, self-work, and a couple breakdowns I made the plunge into teacher training.
I felt that this was a point in my life that was going to be, and very much did become, a turning point. I started to think about taking on a spiritual name as a teacher but it did feel strange to me. This thought of taking on a name, in another language, that belongs to another culture. Should I be doing this? Am I appropriating another culture? What does it mean to take a spiritual name? How will I, and will I even, use this new name?
As I looked into the traditions around spiritual names some things that stuck out were:
- If you feel the calling to it, there is probably a reason.
- If the spirit moves you! This has been one of my favorite sayings to use as a teacher. When students want to experiment with an artistic choice or embark on a new project this was my response. As I have grown deeper into understanding this – the Spirit is real and acts in many ways to bring you to where you need to be. Trust in this sense. If you might be thinking about taking a spiritual name, receive the blessing, meditate on it, and see if it can find its way from your heart.
- A spiritual name is a blessing and should be treated with reverence.
- When I received my name and read it and what it meant, I got chills. When it was first said out loud to address me I got misty eyed. This in so many ways was me. It was me on my best days, it was the version of me that other people see and, to be honest, the version that I sometimes had a hard time seeing in myself. Even if it seems long, or a mouthful, it is your personal prayer.
- There are many ways to get a spiritual name, and no matter the name you receive it is what is needed.
- I know of individuals that have had the opportunity to receive a few spiritual names, and to my surprise the names did have a central theme. I have only received the one. Spiritual names are a comment on the identity of your Spirit. This name speaks to the highest truth of your soul and its purpose in creation. (No pressure, right?) This is a name to try to live up to. According to the 3HO website – “It is based on your birth date and involves the use of a particular type of numerology. Sometimes the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (sacred Sikh scriptures) is used as a resource.”
So what name did I receive and what does it literally translate to?
Tiaga Harprem Singh
Which translates to: The fearless Lion who embodies kindness, love, prosperity and creativity by choosing God over all worldly attachments.
- Tiaga – a saintly person who has given up everything for God, one who abandons all fondness for worldly things in favor of the Divine
- Tiaag – to renounce, to give up maya
- Har – Infinite God, Carries the vibration of kindness, creativity and prosperity.
- Prem – divine love, love
- Harprem – God’s love, Divine Love
- Singh – the Lion of God who walks with grace and courage through his life.
How have I come to understand it?
He who embodies God’s love by living a life of practiced release of attachment. My gift of fearlessly personalizing compassion, love, prosperity and creativity is fully realized by releasing my attachment to everything but God. My dedicated bond with the Divine brings kindness, abundance, ingenuity and spiritual liberation to the minds and hearts of all.
Okay, one, that’s a mouthful, two, that is a huge order to live up to, and three, this seems so aligned with how I have been shifting my life, coming into my own self, and setting goals for my future. So will I continue to use this name, absolutely. It is an honor and a blessing, a personal mantra and goal, my own connection to Divine. At this point I use this name when in the Sangat, the community, and some close friends and family use it to address me from time to time. It is a beautiful blessing to be able to receive and hear. Maybe one day I may adopt the name in the full and legal, maybe not; only continuing to walk the path and time will tell.
Tiaga Harprem Singh