The debate over the existence of God is a good example of a symbol misunderstood.


In the original story, Moses is walking through a desert and sees a burning bush. A “voice“ speaks through the bush and reveals its name as “YHWH.” These letters are the root of the Hebrew word for all the possible variants of the verb “to be.” The word is untranslatable because it lacks the specific qualities used to define something. It has no tense, no number, no gender.


In my opinion, the key point which has been forgotten about this story is that God’s “name” is not a noun but a verb. This would mean the symbol is pointing not to an idea but to an experience.


Have you ever sat beneath the stars at night and felt them addressing you, sending pulsing coded information to you? Have you ever felt that we are all one shape shifting life which reduces to one common word- DNA? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and felt yourself looking through the portals of eternity?


The symbol of God’s “name” is a touchstone to staying in contact with such personal experiences of our connection to the ground of our being whatever that is. But the word for God here is a verb, not a noun. So, the symbol points not to the a experience of a concrete person, but a personal experience of our common ground. The symbol points not so much to a discrete being, but to a profound experience of being itself.