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Thread: Dharma Names

  1. #1
    Member Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.

    Dharma Names

    On the "Question for the Sangha" thread about sub forums Hans made a good point about people using their real names and having real photos, which prompted me to see if any of you nice folks can help clear my thinking on the issue of using Dharma names on line.

    Since our wonderful Jukai ceremony, some have started to post in their Dharma names. Some have not. Whatever works for others is fine by me, and I'm not seeking to criticise anyone else, just setting out my own muddled thoughts on the subject.

    On the one hand, I found the Jukai ceremony incredibly moving, and it seems rather rude not to use the dharma name given to me by Jundo. On the other hand, as Hans says, one of the strengths of Treeleaf was a kind of collective decision taken in the early days that if we were to be a "real Sangha" on line then people would use their real names and photos wherever possible (and I realise that for some, it's just not possible for a number of reasons). If we all had a Zen Sangha down the road, we'd all see people's real names and faces, not avatars and made up names after all. And it has also occurred to me that if I were new to Treeleaf, and found everyone posting under Dharma names like "Peaceful Watermelon", or whatever, I might find it a bit cliquey, or even think I'd stumbled across a cult, and I might be discouraged from hanging around.

    What do other think?



  2. #2

    Re: Dharma Names


    I encourage everyone to post under a real human name, and post a picture of a real human face. The reasons are explained here.


    Yes, we must be careful about posting personal information as this is the internet. So, I do not care if you slightly modify your information to maintain some privacy, or just stay with a first name.

    Morlock, how about just a first name?? ANY first name? And a picture of someone who kinda looks like you? Yes, I know that we are at one with our tea bowl, but still ...

  3. #3

    Re: Dharma Names


    I hear and comply.
    Can we still use our dharma name as our username (it shows under the picture)?

    And i do think a picture or something related to who you are is nice.
    If not only so that you can see who made the post without having to reflect on the name under it...
    Makes it more "familiar" so to speak...

    On a personal note, my name is Torbjörn ( transmitted as thorbear), but i'm usually called Tb, and it is more easily used here (someone once complained over the dots over the o, when trying to find me...), so i'll stick to that one.


  4. #4

    Re: Dharma Names

    after said ceremony i changed my user name to Dirk.
    I then started signing posts with my dharma name as I thought it appropriate ops: but its no biggie

    Gassho, Dirk (Shohei, - Single Plumb Floating in Perfume in a Mans Hat)

  5. #5

    Re: Dharma Names

    For the record i was thinking of this scene when posting above (and i borrowed bit in brackets from the Simpsons, FWIW)

    Scene from zen noir that takes place with in 49 seconds, between a detective and a smarty pants zen student
    (I didnt want to post the clip ... so I will share it like this)

    Detective: Right!, Name?

    Zenny: Sorry?

    Detective: WHAT is your name?

    Zenny: why?

    Detective: wudda ya mean WHY?!

    Zenny: why do you want to know my name?

    Detective: Im conducting a murder investigation!

    Zenny: You are?

    Detective: Look- Just tell me your name...

    Zenny: Why?

    Detective: Because,

    Zenny: My name isn't Me.

    Detective: What?

    Zenny: Not who I am.

    Detective: Look...

    Zenny: I dont mean to be difficult

    Detective: You on something??!

    Zenny: Sorry?

    Detective: CHRIST!!! its not like i am askin..

    Zenny: No!

    Detective: What?

    Zenny: Thats not my name...

    Detective: whats not?

    Zenny: Christ.

    Detective: Right! thats it What the hell is your NAME!

    Zenny: why?


    Zenny: Oh! okay - Articulate Lotus Flowing from the source....


    Gassho, Dirk

  6. #6

    Re: Dharma Names

    Hi all,

    I must confess that I wasn't sure what to do in terms of my username/real name/dharma name here at Treeleaf after the jukai ceremony. There was a part of me that was extremely excited to have new name, having never even earned a nickname in my youth. For that very reason I didn't want to get too excited and stop using my real name, one reason being exactly what Martin said about new people coming here and finding names they aren't familiar with at all. So, I decided to keep my username and use my dharma name when I posted, but I haven't even been consistent with that. I suppose I should just pick a method and stick to it, but since Martin brought it up I was curious to know what other people thought.

    Scott (Dosho)...each one and both...all at once

  7. #7

    Re: Dharma Names

    I agree that the postings and/or screen names should contain our day-to-day names . . . if one chooses to also use their Dharma names, so much the better. I have changed my screen name to Eika, but I always use Bill in the actual post. Just seems right for me, maybe others will do something else.


  8. #8

    Re: Dharma Names

    Well I don't mind what name anyone uses.
    When not on here I have two names. One which I work under and one which I don't. My work name has changed a few times over the years so if you got everyone together I have ever met in one room, I would probably have nearing ten names :roll: :shock: :? .*

    I did agree with the idea of putting an actual photo of us as an avatar as it does not only make conversations more friendly but stops any confusion of who said what when.
    Saying that I have been told I don't look like my avatar.

    I changed my log-in name as it was a stupid one anyway. I also like the Dharma name Jundo gave me.

    All the best


    * I should stress the name changes are not for criminal reasons,

  9. #9

    Re: Dharma Names

    Well, you can call me Jundo, or you can call me Jim, or you can call me 'Dodo', or you can call me 'Dim"

    but don't call me late for dinner!*

    Actually, let me say again, that I only prefer we use our "day to day" first names and a human face for a picture because we have little chance to look each other in the eye here. Not doing that can build an extra barrier although, of course, that is but a barrier of the mind (we are all things, after all, so a picture of whatever is you).

    Truly, a name is just a name is just a name ... and we are in the business of dropping all names and labels. Still, a name is a person's name too. Relative and absolute, absolute and relative.

    Gassho, Jundo

    *Ancient (1970's) American comedy routine ...

    Ahh, ya doesn't has to call me Johnson! You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me RJ... but ya doesn't hafta call me Johnson

  10. #10

    Re: Dharma Names

    hellos to all posting here
    quite a wonderful topic, thank you 2/10 3:15 pm for starting this thread, and thank you 2/10 5:08 pm for the zen noir scene.
    (If we were posting anonymously, I guess we would identify the poster by date and time of the posting when we would respond).
    As a rule I prefer to post anonymously.
    When I first started to visit Treeleaf there were a couple of others using dharma names. I did not want to use my 'real' name and so my dharma name seemed fitting. Understand I've had my dharma name for over 20 years now. It's like having an umbrella; handy to have if you need one!
    I have sat with groups where dharma names were used, and I've sat with groups where they weren't. Where they weren't used, I didn't and where they were used, I did.
    So for me, here at Treeleaf, using my dharma name was a way for me to be anonymous without being anonymous.
    I actually don't like the picture of the face-with-the-posting, because I like the dialogue to just be with the thought and not connected with a 'personality.'
    Here are all these thoughts being thunk and bumping up against each other in a thought-pot tasty thinking stew.
    Each post is another mouthful--this one ah! potato, this one carrot, with some green bean, this one YUM green pepper, etc.

    I like the idea that the thoughts aren't 'owned' by each speaker but are offered up to the whole of the conversation, the way a flower would offer up scent, or each mouthful of stew its flavor. I like the idea that all of our little minds are one great mind thinking its vast number of thoughts--just like our individual minds with their array of thoughts.
    While it was nice for folks to say they look forward to my posts a little while back, it makes me squirm in an uncomfortable way. I'm happy to just say what I have to say, and let that little thought be of help--hopefully--(because that is it's pupose: to be of benefit). To tell you the truth, I don't know where the thought/the words come from. There they are! Amazing! One right after the other!

    Back to dharma names. So in the beginning it is a bit odd to use them, but then they find their proper place and function.

    I quite understand the concern about things which strike one as cultish. If everyone had had dharma names here in the beginning I'd have found that to be a bit creepy despite the fact I have one myself!
    I'd prefer there was a 'members room,' or a 'portrait gallery' with all the faces and the names/dharma names somewhere on the Treeleaf site and then I'd like the postings to the threads to all be anonymous. But hey, that's just me.

    By the way, I am loving that so many more woman have become more vocal on threads. When I started visiting Treeleaf there were just a couple of others. Not that it matters really, it's just nice to have variety in perspectives!

  11. #11

    Re: Dharma Names

    One thing with the "nature" of email lists or forums is folks take their forum identities and behave in ways they would not do so to person face-to-face. I do think that dynamic has been kept to a minimum with our names and photo in TL.

  12. #12

    Re: Dharma Names


    I think there are valid arguments for and against using one type of name vs. another. I'm reluctant to call one 'real' and the other 'not real'. My parents gave me one, Jundo gave me the other. Both are just as valid to me. The name in my passport is 'Kenneth', but ironically that's the one that's used most rarely. I used to sign my posts with that at Treeleaf, but it often sounds a bit formal so I switched to 'Ken', which friends and relatives also call me. My parents used to call me 'Mugs' when I was a kid. No idea why, really. When I was a kid I was confirmed in the Catholic church and chose a confirmation name. It doesn't mean anything to me now. Up until I became a teenager most people called me 'Kenny', but then I decided that that sounded too cutesy. Now that one is reserved for my wife, who however most often refers to me as 'Kätzchen', 'Katzenkind' or 'Katzele'. On the other hand, in Germany, first names are generally reserved for freinds and family, so for most colleagues, acquaintences, etc. I'm referred to as Herr ... Using my Dharma name is, for me, a continual reminder of the vow I've taken to uphold the Precepts, as well as a small sign of appreciation to Jundo, who put his heart into choosing them and making the Jukai ceremony possible for us. I think each of us should follow her/his own heart on this. That's as 'real' as it can get.

    Bansho Ken

  13. #13

    Re: Dharma Names


    to quote astrid lindgren's (you know author of pippi longstocking...) Emil of lönneberga:

    "Om jag inte får dricka socker dricka när jag kan, när i hundan ska jag dricka sockerdricka?"
    "If i can't drink lemonade when i can drink lemonade, when the heck should i drink lemonade?"

    (or something like that, i've only seen the book in english, not read it, so i dont know the translation...)


  14. #14

    Re: Dharma Names

    well i for one, agree with the photos and names and everything... that is way i have never felt the need to hide behind anything, i am thinking of changing the photo of myself but its just going to be the same me (or will it be a different me?) as for the name i used to have a nickname the i thought was not very appropriate so wanted it changed to my dharma name. although i still sign my post with my real name and sometimes with the dharma name.

    i think its nice to really share ourselves with each other and have done so ever since i got here and i am very grateful for the rest of the sangha for doing the same. you all are a great inspiration to me, thank you.

    Gassho, Daniel Dojin Sherman (prostrating before you all).

  15. #15

    Re: Dharma Names

    Slightly OT...............

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    that is way i have never felt the need to hide behind anything, [..]
    I follow different blogs and one of them is Brad's blog. Reading your post and reading Brad's blog brought to mind one aspect of being anonymous (of which there are many at Brad's blog) that I am not fond of. That aspect is not taking responsibility for your words.

  16. #16

    Re: Dharma Names

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Slightly OT...............

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    that is way i have never felt the need to hide behind anything, [..]
    I follow different blogs and one of them is Brad's blog. Reading your post and reading Brad's blog brought to mind one aspect of being anonymous (of which there are many at Brad's blog) that I am not fond of. That aspect is not taking responsibility for your words.
    Woah, you just spoke my mind.

    Gassho, "Fuken" Jordan

  17. #17

    Re: Dharma Names

    This Dharma name, Juko, is the one I am using in my "real" life, too. I have my own complicated, etymological (sp?), symbolic reasons for my choice to put it in front of my given name, Martina, often shortened to Tina.

    Now, I hang out with artists, transpersonal shrinks, and other Buddhists, so this sort of up and changing one's name thing is tolerated, if not encouraged :lol:

    When all my complications are dropped, each time someone calls me "Juko", it is like an insta- koan. Who? Oh! :P . . .

    Gassho, Juko

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