Numa – The Story of Our Name –
Inspired by many cultures, the name Numa reflects ideals of our mission.
The ancient Greek word pneuma, which English speakers pronounce as numa, means breath, but also spirit or soul. Some ancient Greek physicians believed that pneuma sustains a consciousness in the body, that it connects the heart with the brain, and that it gives a soul the energy to act. Ancient Stoic philosophers regarded pneuma as the breath of life, a mix of wind and fire. They believed that pneuma is essential not only for life on this planet, but for the existence of the entire universe. They believed that a human soul is a part of the soul of gods through sharing the same pneuma. Christianity understands pneuma as spirit, as shown in St. John’s gospel:
“The wind (pneuma) blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit (pneuma).”John 3:8
In North America, Numa or Numu is a name of the Native American Northern Paiute people who live in the area of the Great Basin which is now eastern California, western Nevada, and southeast Oregon. The Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family includes seven languages: Comanche, Timbisha, Shoshoni, Kawaiisu, Colorado River, Mono, and Northern Paiute. In all these languages the word Numic means person. Thus, we recognize and honor the great cultural traditions of the people who have lived on this continent before our ancestors settled on this land, either by free will, or by force.
In the Japanese language, the word 沼, or ぬま pronounced as “numa” in English, means a source of fresh water, such as a lake, pond, marsh, or bog. Wetlands are essential for retaining the fresh water. They provide rich and complex ecosystems for all sorts of organisms living on land. There is no organic life without water.
In the ancient European history, a superb, yet a mysterious hero Numa Pompilius was the semi-legendary second king of Rome. Unlike his direct predecessor, Romulus, who was a Roman, Numa came from the Sabines, the second tribal group which constituted the early Roman society. Prior to being offered a kingship, Numa lived as a modest citizen, a husband and a father, cherishing austerity and discipline over the luxury and power. At first, he rejected royalty which was offered to him by the Senate, because he believed that Rome desired a warrior-king. He felt his gifts laid elsewhere. Eventually he accepted the kingship given to him based upon his merits of wisdom, piety, knowledge, and justice. The first decision he made as a king was dismantling the royal guard, renouncing the privilege of a special protection. Numa introduced Romans with the concept of boundaries, made them respect the laws regulating relationships with neighbors, and condemned violence. He built temples, established sacred rites honoring gods, and established religious offices. Numa reformed the calendar, dividing it into 12 months, and distinguished between the profane and the holy days. He also reformed the social structure and the municipal division. Numa was a mystic, who was believed to consult with deities. He left sacred writing which were said to be destroyed by the later Roman priests for their revolutionary content. Numa was called the King of Peace.
In Arabic, Numa is a female given name meaning beautiful, happy, pleasant, and delightful. We have hopes for Numa, as caregivers would have for a child. Thus, Numa shows the nurturing aspect of our commitment to social service and mental health through developmental assistance, creativity, and education.