ON THE MATTER OF RENAMING

by Jnana Hodson

As I said at the time …

You had mentioned a while back that you liked the name, “Jnana,” but didn’t know what it means. I usually tell people it’s a nickname, that it reminds me to be good. That, the short answer, usually works at a contradance or similar setting, where there’s little time to converse. Actually, the name was given to me when I was living in the ashram in the Pocono mountains, 1971-’73, and had undergone some pretty profound changes; it refers to the spiritual path of the intellect, or discernment and discrimination, which also matches the gifts of my character. Like it or not, I’m a thinker – so when that side of me is linked up with the spiritual and emotional, as the name reminds me to do, I am returned to harmony. The idea of renaming is not new, of course: we see it in the Bible (Abram/Abraham, Sara/Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter), and among the American Indians, who insist that the name given at birth is not a person’s “real name,” which will appear later. So the Mohawk Owl Woman tells me. On a practical side, I know immediately whether I’m being addressed by a friend (they all use the Jnana) or by a salesman or bureaucrat (at the office, half of the males had the same name, which becomes nothing more than “boy!” and was thus ignored).

Again, my thanks. And best wishes for a blessed holiday season and magnificent new year.

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