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Thread: Zen names

  1. #1

    Zen names

    i was wondering what is the symbolism of zen names?
    how does one receive one and why?
    what does having a zen name means? ( i know it mostly means nothing, but still... )
    and anything else you could tell me about it?

    thanks in advance

  2. #2

    Re: Zen names


    We will talk about this more during the Jukai preparations, but I pick the name ... usually from a traditional list of Chinese Characters. I try to put some meaning in there, suited to the person ... often there is a little humor or poignancy in the name. Nishijima was called by his teacher "Foolish Way", and I am "Pure Way".

    Here is a list of names from some teachers so you can get a feel for the typical meanings ... ... es1.html#J

    If folks already have a Dharma Name they received elsewhere, and want to keep it, we just use the same name.

    Gassho, Pure Way ops:

  3. #3

    Re: Zen names

    thanks Jundo i kinda like the idea

    i must admit i am looking forward to studying and making preparations for Jukai and i am actually quite thrilled and excited ops:

    p.s. now i know what Jundo means

  4. #4

    Re: Zen names

    So if I do the Jukai, I get a name? That's pretty cool... :-)


  5. #5

    Re: Zen names

    So if I do the Jukai, I get a name? That's pretty cool... :-)
    That could depend on the name :?

  6. #6

    Re: Zen names

    It would be great to get an ironic or funny name. Then you could have an inside joke to smile about whenever someone was in awe of your dharma name!
    Jundo, have you posted a schedule of when we'll be starting Jukai? I've been becoming more and more interested evry time you drop a hint that we shall be doing this!


  7. #7

    Re: Zen names

    I want something that translates to intellectual caterpillar. The former because I tend to over-intellectualize things, and the latter because of the way that insect is a metaphor for change, especially that which occurs naturally.


  8. #8

    Re: Zen names

    This name business is an interesting one and I'd like to know more. I know that you receive a dharma name when you take the 3 refuges, and I know that you receive a name when you take the precepts/become a priest (leave home), and I know that when you renew your vows/precepts, as a priest you get a new name (usually your old one written slightly differently, but pronounced the same), and that after death a new name is received.
    One priest I knew loved his dharma name, but hated his priest name he'd been given, so he just stopped using Japanese names in his sangha and he didn't give names to others.

    I don't know all that much about it.

    My first teacher told me he had a name he wanted to give me, and that I'd have to come to a ceremony. He told me it was a 'high class' name.
    I was curious. I didn't know enough about zen to know anything about receiving a name.

    With time I have come to understand there is a bit of humor in names: sometimes a name is the distilled aspect of the essence of a person.
    Sometimes it is the quality through which they manifest the dharma/or will grow into manifesting; and ironically it is often this very same quality they lack or are 'misshapen,' or 'defective' in which is their puzzle, their koan to work on.

    One person I sat with was a very small minded guy, but his name translated to 'boundless hear/mind.'

    My own name I'm still growing into: Keishin, "compassionate heart/mind" I don't sit with a group who uses such names, so I don't get called by this name. I had an uncle who liked calling me by my dharma name. "Keishin!" he would call out. I would hear him and I was always curious to see who would respond!

    I use Keishin here because I can't post anonymously here. I prefer to be anonymous--

    Most of the time, it's my plain old street name when it's not 'Mom,' and not 'hey, you.'
    While I became aware of it when 'Keishin' was being used to address me, it carried over to other times and other activities: when someone says my name I get to find out who responds--always a surprise!

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