I have always been curious, about what appears to be a human need and propensity to label virtually everything and everyone. What is at the root of this phenomenon? It’s human nature to want to know, it provides us with a sense of control, certainty and safety. Not knowing can produce feelings of vulnerability, powerlessness, anxiety and fear. The ego, in its “infinitely strategic brilliance” uses labeling to quickly, and superficially assess whatever it encounters.
Labeling is merely a tool to make the world and everything in it more manageable, and less threatening. When we label anything we reduce it to our own relative perception and understanding. Labeling is a function of the ego, the analytical and intellectual aspect of the mind, and is based on concepts, ideologies and conditioning, all of which are inherently limiting. Labeling is a static process, a closed system. This type of reductionist thinking attempts to separate the part from the whole. It is a futile attempt to make life predictable. When we label someone we can no longer see or relate to them authentically. Our minds have predetermined who and what they are, and thus there is no mystery to discover or experience. We are safe!
Naming something, on the other hand is a dynamic, intuitive, inclusive and expansive process. For example, in many indigenous tribes throughout the world, newborns are not named by the parents, but by the indwelling spirit of the child. The infant is symbolically presented to, and acknowledged by the sustaining and elemental forces of nature. This affirms their interdependence and connection to the circle of life, which symbolically represents the whole of existence.
Through consistently relating to and observing the nature of the child, their innate talents and abilities are seen and fostered. These inborn qualities are understood as an intimate expression of the incarnating soul. The naming comes only when the essence of the child is revealed and understood. Their name embodies their “medicine.” Medicine meaning, the power and destiny the Creator has given to them.
Naming comes from a deep and patient knowing, from the intuitive realm, from spirit itself. Naming is powerful because it arises from the truth or essence of something or someone. It is not contrived by the human mind, or by the conditioning of experience or environment. This is an entirely different way of relating to the world, and to each other. The emphasis is on unity, on interrelationship and is characterized by wanting to know the truth.
What is beyond naming? Direct and immediate perception is what arises when we surrender all claim and attachment to knowing anything. When we encounter each moment with a beginner’s mind, with a clear and receptive lens, we experience things as they are.
We no longer fear being annihilated by what we don’t know. Strangely in being present, without labels, without even the need to identify or name, we are actually liberated. We are liberated from ignorance and illusion, from the need to feel powerful and in control. The critical and evaluative quality of the mind ceases, and a profound sense of relaxation and peace spontaneously arises.
We are then free to experience without fear or expectation, without the need for certainty and predictability… This freedom happens when we “show up,” when we let go of what we think we are in possession or need of. This is an act of conscious awareness, of trust and faith. It is akin to throwing out the compass and the map, knowing that there is an internal and omniscient intelligence that always knows where we are and where we’re going.
Life in all of its glorious complexity and mystery is always inviting us to abandon our rationality, our logical thinking minds, for a truer way of knowing and being. Each moment lived in this way becomes an adventure, a pilgrimage to the very heart of our humanity.