If I've never gone so far as to say it, there was a time in my past when I practised the neo-pagen pseudo-religion of Wicca, which was about as free-form and self-directed as spirituality can be. That's nothing against Wiccans, mind you, but the disciplines weren't for me.
What stuck, however, was an interest in things most aptly described as "occult". Anything old or arcane, really, though there's often a direct connection between these ideas and the idea of magic. In the course of this study, one theme in particular seems to have been a surprisingly common trend: the importance of a name.
Occultists of ages both past and present have continuously come around to the idea that the true name of something had a special power over that thing. Demonologists, as some call themselves, have believed that the names of various spirits, up to and including the angels themselves, were a key component of the rites to summon those powers into the material world, and even binding them to their service. The Dharma faiths of the east recognized the central importance of the Om, a key mantra said to encompass all reality, and in some Hindu sects, it is considered to be the name of God. The Abrahamic faiths considered the true name of God to be too holy to pronounce, and even his known name, YHWH, is best left unpronounced, or so it is said. Even Benedictine monks, at least in part, have a belief in the importance of names, and at least one monk from Worth Abbey in England holds that a passage in Revelations states that everyone's true name is recorded on a white stone in heaven, and advises others to try and find this true name.
The idea of a name is intimately connected with what a thing is, even from a purely linguistic view. Names can be simple or complex, and a thing can go by many names, with each name being a different face, sometimes an entirely different thing. Sometimes these differences are a matter of presentation, as a forum user hiding behind a moniker, but we must remember that all of these names show a kernel of truth, and are, in one way or another, rooted in the identity of the thing so named. A laptop is properly a computer, but that hardly tells the whole story. What is it's operating system? Who manufactured it? How is it configured uniquely by the user? This is so with God.
I'm supposed to use these posts to make an observation about the nature of the world, so here it is: the goal of the spirit is to learn the name of God. Anyone who has ever taking a moment to examine their spirituality has, at some point, had to make the distinction between spirituality and religion, if only because the various religions of the world are so disparate. One is tempted to make the mistake that anyone one religion is necessarily more true or totally true as compared to the others, but I hold that this is not necessarily true.
Those who study the ancient history of man and religion as a whole have found, increasingly so, that religions are increasingly recursive. Taking our own familiar Abrahamic faith as an example, we can show that Islam developed out of Christianity (where Christ appears as a prophet), and that Judaism was the forerunner of Christianity, but we also know that there are forerunners to Judaism, and forerunners to the forerunners, and so on and so forth, to the point where it is almost tempting to say that the most accurate of the religions would be the oldest... except that there are no records of any of those ancient faiths outside of a few specious archaeological remnants.
However, a very clever woman and I recently hypothesised, and had done so in the past, that when we finally die and become aware of the true nature of God, we'll find quite the amalgamation of the lessons of all faiths, and the identity of god will be quite a bit different from the paternalistic elder image we so freely associate with him. The idea of recursive faiths moving closer together the further back in time one goes seems to support this conclusion.
I wish to learn the name of God. I think, on some level, everyone does. If only I had some idea how to go about that... thoughts?