Meaning and Names

3 years, 5 months ago

When you give something a name, you are giving it meaning. As in, you go to the grocery store and assuming you are in an English-speaking country, you ask for an apple. The person working there will understand what you are referring to solely by the name. Thus, without having to physically hold something, someone understood what you meant by the word you were referring to.

My question is that do names give meaning, or is that backwards? Does meaning give names. Do you think your name gives your life any sort of meaning? My full name is Leandro, which supposedly means "lion of a man". I can’t really say it applies to me so much, at least from my perspective. I suppose it all depends on what characteristics you want to pick. But perception is everything, when you hear someone’s name, you get a sense of who they might be – as if their name gives you an expectation, a preset definition, or value if you will.

Then there’s the bad side of giving something names. It sets limitations. Because you gave it a specific name, it can no longer be anything more other than that. Getting back to human names and their meanings, and if they have any value in your lives, you are constrained by that definition. You cannot possibly be anything outside of that meaning.

So the final question, the food for thought, is what if you were never given a name. People recognized and knew who you were, but never said, "Hey John" or "Hey Jane". How much more capacity would a nameless being have?

What are your thoughts on the subject of names, naming, and giving things meaning?

September 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm

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Profile photo of Ellie Ellie M (@tangledupinplaid21) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

A friend told me about this interesting study that has to do with this topic:

http://www.divinecaroline.com/22360/89983-full-disclosure–names-reveal/print

I’ve recently realized that abstaining from naming things is much more beneficial to learning. In being okay with not labeling or placing things into categories, we stay open to possibilities. When I say “naming” I mean it more in the sense of judging, or slapping adjectives on persons or situations… such as, “this day sucks”, or “Jane is a bitch”. In adopting mindsets like that you are affecting the quality of your day because you are dooming yourself to seeing everything in the light you are casting.

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Profile photo of daveb daveb (@daveb) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

this comes up in the some of the toltec books, adults are constantly bombarding children with what everything is called. This allows for participation in society (common language = communication) but the high cost of this naming is that children who might otherwise group ideas and concepts differently are programmed to see the Tree as a Tree, an individual thing, as opposed to seeing it as fundamentally part of something larger. we know that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts so I think it’s more important to teach kids the concepts of systems and connections, rather than memorizing the names of all the plants and animals in a forest or whatever. those kinds of classifications are an artificial layer that obscures the fluidity of the systems.

happens in outer space and particle physics all the time – when I told my son pluto used to be considered a planet, his first question was “how did pluto change?”

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Profile photo of jep jep (@tooth) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

yes i have read/thought about this numerous times. recently i was reading a book on zen buddhism that was talking about old school masters. the thing that they kept asking the monks in training was “what is it?!” and when a monk would say something obvious, like “its a shoe” the master would smack the shit out of them…….i thought that was so great. because NOTHING is as simple as a label/name that is put on it.

i had this realization a few weeks ago while eating a banana. while eating the banana i looked at it and said “what are you?” and then i had these images in my mind of a banana tree in some tropical place, absorbing the earth, sunshine, and water, and growing bananas. and then i realized that a banana is not just a banana, but a beautiful miracle. that may sound corny but its true. and the funny thing is, i have never been a huge fan of banana, but since the time i realized that, bananas have tasted so amazing to me! now when i bite into a banana it tastes like some sort of ultra-amazing ice cream or something. not just a banana. not just a piece of fruit. but life.

I have wondered the same thing about the names which people give to their children. im sure i am not the only one to notice that certain names seem to either be coincidence, or cause some of the choices we make in life. for example, i have known many people named scott that were in supervisor positions. could definitely be coincidence, but i still wonder. i thought about getting into some more names but didnt want to offend anybody if that was their name. but i think you get the point…..

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Profile photo of Ellie Ellie M (@tangledupinplaid21) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

jep, I like that(about the bananas). I ate one while high recently and had similar feelings.

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Profile photo of ELI var namnet ELI var namnet (@manimal) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

My first name Emil means “friendly man,” my middle name Elion means “God’s highest,” my last name Jädersten means “stone of Jäder.” Emil is also commonly used to refer to male students of Chalmers university of technology.

I don’t know, but I think it might have influenced me. I rarely use that name though, and I rarely ask people for their name, it’s better that way. You don’t get stuck with labels that way.

As for the whole zen and banana story, that’s powerful stuff, use it often. It’s one of the methods I teach most, the “this is not a…” game. For a WHOLE day, for everything you see you say to yourself “this is not an x, it’s a –” Example:
“This is not a floor, it’s a bunch of square pieces of wood which are glued together to make a nicer surface to walk on”
“This is not a house, it’s a big box of wood and concrete, it’s a man made cave, somewhere to sleep and eat without having to worry about animals or bad weather”
“This is not a friend, it’s a fleshy thing that walks upright and talks”

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Profile photo of Renee Renee C (@themorning) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

I agree with Ellie, Jep–that banana thing was awesome :D

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as well; especially in the sense that our reality is completely made up. We are living in a world of names and labels, and only able to give meaning to what we are sensing by labeling things. But then we forget the parts of the thing we are naming, forget about what it truly is when simplify it down to one word. This creates a lot of problems when we attach feelings to the seemingly meaningless words.

My name means to be reborn, or born again. Up until recently with my “red pill” epiphanies, the meaning of my name meant nothing. But it’s kinda crazy now how relevant it ended up being. Should I consider this an awesome coincidence, or something in the background of my thoughts, remembering what my name means and somehow knowing that it would come to pass? I don’t know.

What if it was super easy to legally change your name? Would you guys do it, or do you feel a connection to the name you were given? I think that if we didn’t have names, things would get a bit confusing, which is why language and naming were a necessity; it’s our thoughts associated to those names that seem to cause the problems.

Manimal I really like that–it allows us to see the connectivity in everything like Daveb was saying. I’m going to try it today. :)

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Profile photo of 1.61803399 1.61803399 (@drunkmonkmeth) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

names are for communication

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“General” is obviously a title of great importance. “Tits” represents my feminine side. “Von” is an old school name connector that means the person with it in their name is cool/ awesome. “Chodehoffen” of course is at the end to remind everyone that although I have a nice side, I’m %100 man.

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Profile photo of Matt P Matt P (@mkp843) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

^brilliant! lol :)

I’m just Matt.. i do get a little fursterated when ppl forget to put the second t and spell my name Mat.. that is what ppl wipe there feet on when the come in the door.. i bare with it tho.. for the record all Matt have 2 t’s .. unless their parents can’t spell

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Profile photo of daveb daveb (@daveb) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

I think it’s awesome that we’ve all communally decided to call GTVC Tits for short, rather than The General.

as for me, I’m one of the Daves you know –

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Profile photo of Abhishek Murarka Abhishek Murarka (@infinity) 3 years, 5 months ago ago

Haha..good one General Tits.Ur name(not to forget ur comments) add the aesthetic value to the discussions:D
Abhishek,a Hindu name of Sanskrit origin means “offering of music”, though some dialects refer it as “installed as a king”(i like the former one better).I know it sounds a bit complex for most here but it happens to be one of the more popular(=common) male names here in India.
Jep, I absolutely love the whole central point raised in this discussion! Names,just like words are superfluous and convey only the limited meaning the society has assigned to it over the years.They dont convey the actual essence.
“If sex between three people is called Threesome, and sex between two people is called Twosome, then how is Handsome still a compliment?”,makes u think! haha
On a serious note,in order to achieve better clarity and sanity,its important we break the shackles of predefined ideas associated with names/terms as they are..just what Jep and Manimal say..
“He is not an ORPHAN..he is a child who has been deprived of parental care and has not been adopted..still smiling at the harshness of it all!”
“He is not BLIND..he just can see how beautiful a day it is!”
“That 15 year old is not a PROSTITUTE..she is a victim of child trafficking and the vicious poverty cycle!”
Helps brings u closer to ur conscience and consciousness.This is exactly what got me involved in social work!

Makes u see things as they ought to be seen

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