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 What's in a name?

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Lise
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PostSubject: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:43 am

At a soccer game yesterday I was talking with a woman I know from my son's school, and we got onto to the subject of names, which turned out to be a kerosene-soaked issue for her. This lady found out that my last name is different from my son's (he has his dad's surname) and she has strong opinions on what this "signals" to a child, if his mother "symbolically leaves his family unit" by adopting a new name. It was a beautiful warm day yesterday, sunny and mild, I was sitting in a nice chair, Pumpkin Spiced Latte in hand, and didn't care what this lady thought about my name, my son's mental condition, or anything else. I was tickled to deliver the one Buddhist line that still comes to mind easily in situations like this:  "Is that so?"  is all I would say, to her great annoyance. 

Driving home, I thought about my name and what it does mean to me. I took my husband's last name about a year after we married, which was several years after we moved in together. No pressure from him, all my idea. It seemed right. He was quite surprised and pleased, having come from a traditional background where things like this are just assumed. Anyway, the name change was a conscious and deliberate choice for me, instead of something that someone else expected me to do because I went through a marriage ceremony.

I'm interested in how people feel about their monastic first names. I know it must be a complicated issue in many ways and I don't mean to pry, but for those who are okay with commenting on it, I would be interested to hear how you feel about that name today, after returning to lay life. How much is connected to the former master who gave it to you?
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:05 am

Sorry I cant get passed Lise at a soccer match
Now that,s my ideal woman
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:10 am

Can`t get past  " pumkin spiced latte " !    Different planet, the good ole` US of A....
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:41 am

Look what I get for trying to raise a semi-serious topic  funny  fluff, in return, that's what I get.

Michael, I do enjoy the matches, esp. since the kids got old enough to be good at the fancy kicks and maneuvers. When Logan was small, it was torture, good lord, nobody EVER scored - they just ran around the pitch like confused livestock, fell down, cried. (I would have so gladly agreed to let him quit, but he didn't want to.)

Stan, do you mean to say you haven't tasted a Pumpkin Spiced Latte?!  Do you still live up on that mountain in Poland, far from a Starbucks?  Maybe they aren't on the menu in Europe?  eek  I must think about how to get one to you.  They are dee-ee-licious!
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:45 am

Well answering your question Lise, the important thing is that your son feels secure regardless of  any name or circumstances ,because children can understand most situations and security based on love is possibly the most important.
Names clearly are important my sister named one of her sons Felix he changed it when he was eight to Michael,One of my boys is called Blaze he sometimes calls himself Tony we all call him Blazey-boy.
Religious name important too I guess,the ordination name that Kennett gave me has no significance what so ever,that also reflects the time spent there as well , the name Chisan means something that was from Ikko Roshi. Friends now call me Michael, people I knew a long time ago call me Mike, at work I am called Michael,but surprisingly also Peter,as a means to keeping people who do not really know me away from connecting to me,.
Now if that is confusing please ask for clarification from my secretary a pretty young girl called Horace
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:57 am

Stan said:

Can`t get past  " pumkin spiced latte " !    Different planet, the good ole` US of A....

What, no Starbucks in Great Brit?

Lise said:

I'm interested in how people feel about their monastic first names. I know it must be a complicated issue in many ways and I don't mean to pry, but for those who are okay with commenting on it, I would be interested to hear how you feel about that name today, after returning to lay life. How much is connected to the former master who gave it to you?

Interesting question.   I received my Buddhist name when I first did Jukai as a lay person and then kept using it when I became a monk.  I didn't associate it with monk ordination and so didn't feel the need to stop using it when I left the order.  Also as a practical matter "Isan" is a simple, two syllable name that most people don't perceive as overly exotic and can pronounce without difficulty.  Some of the Japanese names given to monks at SA were longer and harder to use when interacting with people outside of the community and I think if I had been given one like that I would have let it go.  JK eventually switched to old English names which were usually easier to pronounce, but not always :-)  I imagine that everyone feels somewhat differently about it though.

By the way, it sounds like the person who was going on about your name had simplistic notions about "family values".  In my experience they can be hard to educate.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:12 am

Isan, hard to educate, yes, and ten years ago I might have tried. Now I just observe and listen.  And because I'm not a good trainee, I like to list synonyms for nonsense when people seem to be spewing that. Clap-trap, hogwash, malarkey, fol-der-rol, horse poop! Set to music and sung silently to myself.

I didn't realize you could get a name at Jukai (I never did that part), I always thought they were something to do with monastic ordination, thanks for clarifying.

Michael, I can picture you as Peter when you're working and then maybe Pete when you get to the pub . . .   It's nice that you have the name Chisan to connect you with an honored person in your life.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:39 am

Yes in Cornish tradition Peter to 'Outsiders'
But this catches on..we are very busy at work as we make tables and people want them for Christmas,so this week just gone we have delivered all over the UK to all sorts of different people,the advantage of internet sales is email addresses can be very random,as can names used,so we take no notice just try to get them wherever they are going,and find out afterwards anyone that is rich and famous,this week we did a TV sports presenter, a priestess from Glastonbury ( she is very nice) and a famous guy from a car program who lives in a real castle,but they all hid behind different names,
And yes  you are right that is how I feel about it,connected to someone honored in my life and also his descendants,who only know me as Chisan, who I am sure would be rather amused at me hiding behind Peter
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:09 pm

Hi Lise,

I participated in the Jukai ceremony in 1976 at Shasta Abbey.  RM Jiyu did not give me a new name. She didn't give anyone else at that Jukai ceremony a name, either. So either she had stopped doing that by then, or Isan was special. 

My given name was Joan.  My ordination name is Sophia.  So for reasons obvious to me, anyway, as soon as I had time I legally changed my name to Sophia.  When I left the monastery I didn't give it a second thought, I just kept using the name Sophia.  Occasionally someone in my family forgets and calls me Joan, but Sophia has become my name.

It's made a remarkable difference at work.  I work with lots of senior citizens and for some reason they easily remember the name Sophia.  When my name was Joan patients mostly referred to me as the tall one with dark hair.  Now I they all call me Sophia and have no trouble remembering who I am.

To me it doesn't have a lot to do with the meaning or the ordination at this point.  I just love the name.  It occurred to me after I legally changed my name that I could have done that at any time in my life since I never really felt like a Joan.  It had just never occurred to me.  

I still call Enida, Enida.  I don't know whether she goes by her "birth" name with the rest of the world or not. I thought we both were given beautiful names at ordination and I've been really thankful for that.

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:16 pm

Hi Lise,

My good wife and I returned from our mountain retreat about eight years ago.  Wonderful as it
was, I was certainly then ready to return to the UK and head for the gently rolling slopes of the
Lincolnshire Wolds.  You can actually start missing level ground if you continuously go up hill or
down hill for x amount of years !

So, never tried a Pumpkin Spiced Latte in any country......had to google it to make sure you
were`nt having me on.  Don`t like Latte anyway...far too milky.  In fact, I don`t like milk at all.
Apparently, in the tough old days when I was born, it was common to breast feed a baby and
then pass it on for second helpings to another mother so as to extra nourish the said baby.
I suspect that`s what put me off milk for life.  Not even been a great fan of that relevant part
of a woman`s anatomy, come to think.....
I guess I`ll have to pass on that particular type of Latte.....thanks anyway.  Strange tastes you
have over there.....what can you say about a nation that likes Oreos ?

About the names thing.... I was given the name of Houn Giko on ordination all those years ago.
The `family name` of Houn, meant Dharma Cloud if I`m not mistaken.  The Giko bit translated as
`Congratulatory Brightness`.  I thought most of those Japanese names sounded quite cool but, I
wasn`t overstruck on mine.  Couldn`t quite see what it meant .  Was it referring to something
that is within me already or something I was supposed to aspire to ?  Maybe they`d just run out
of a limited amount of names ?  I recall Myozen said Jiyu was fond of the monk Giko in Japan. I got on well
with Jiyu and if I wanted to, it would be easy to project some meaning into that.
Either way, what the name really meant to me was that I had fully committed to a new life....The
life of Training.  The new name was always a reminder to me that my old name and what I
thought it stood for, didn`t have to be carried about any more.  There can always be a new start.
It was a subtle thing really.  If someone called out my new name...Giko, I always felt that it
referred to all that is good in me and all that I aspired to.  It sort of put me on attention.

Compared to shaving the head bald and putting on monastic robes, it was small potatoes !
The first visit home, wearing robes and having the shaved head was something else.....
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:27 am

H Sophia said:

I participated in the Jukai ceremony in 1976 at Shasta Abbey.  RM Jiyu did not give me a new name. She didn't give anyone else at that Jukai ceremony a name, either. So either she had stopped doing that by then, or Isan was special.

I seem to remember that everyone that year - I believe 1971 - who did Jukai received a name.  Perhaps Josh or Steve can remember something about it?
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:18 am

Sophia, thank you for the reply, I can see your point about keeping a name that feels more like "you" than your birth name did. You did get a pretty name, and Enida too.  I think I had assumed that people might keep using monastic names because they were still attached to having a monk identity, but of course that may not apply at all. Choosing for oneself is the main thing, isn't it.  

Stan, I wish I had time to properly address your slur upon Oreos, truly, that comment cannot stand and I will be back to deal with you, I just don't have time right now to do it thoroughly. Do they show adverts in the UK that feature the cookies/biscuits dunked into big glasses of milk? Perhaps that's the problem, since we know how you feel about milk. I believe we need a panel of amateur forum psychologists to take up your case and review it thoroughly -
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:21 am

Sorry Lise,

I can accept that some people like the taste of a cardboard and toothpaste sandwich.
Nothing wrong with that .  enjoy !
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:59 am

Stan said:

I can accept that some people like the taste of a cardboard and toothpaste sandwich.

Nothing wrong with that .  enjoy !

You're being a little harsh on the old Oreo Stan :-)  Still, I would say that chocolate covered McVities have Oreos beat hands down.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 3:48 pm

Would you, Isan - I don't set them in opposition to each other, myself; that wouldn't be very buddhist  funny  

Stan, I believe I have put two and two together, with the assistance of four Oreo cookies since they are absolutely an aid to doing maths, and I conclude your problem is related, and justly so, to a fear of American junk food as a tool of hegemony. The BBC notes this issue, not surprisingly.

"Twist, lick and dunk." Go Team America  clapping
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:02 pm

In followup, I'll admit to being overcome with an occasional bout of that noxious condition called American exceptionalism. Pride in our bad food & high-calorie coffee just knows no bounds -
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:55 am

To intrigue even more with false names I must tell you the true story of a friend of mine Patric o'Donnell,an Irish man who ran a furniture wholesale group in the UK.

In what is a difficult market to be in, he survive ruthlessly by liquidating companies and starting new ones with the assets of the closed company.

I knew Patric as I made furniture and I used to both buy and sell furniture from and to him. Like all stories the twists and turns were endless,he not only survived but became very big , one of the biggest,There were always rumors about financing the business , always rumors about the Irish connection ,however a very large business was established.

I remember once he owed me some money and would not pay,I had to drive and see him taking with me a very big man with an ugly face, as soon as we went in to his office he pulled the money out of a drawer in his desk, that was how it was, up in the north of England there were so many crooks , Liverpool was full of many characters,my favorite shop was near the cavern club where the Beatles played,there were always uncut diamonds on offer,it was another world, an area of life I had never seen, I ended up with a warehouse in Manchester,I was the only straight business,so straight that I was regarded as a major gangster from down South, Amazing but true.

My friend Patric was arrested, accused of smuggling counterfeit cigarettes street value of 50 million from China in a furniture container,,they raided his home and collected 50,000uk£ from his safe. he was released on tag .At the court case he was found not guilty, as three Irish men owned up and did the time. At the trial his name was not really Patric O'Donnell it was another Irish name ,they call it grave stoning, which is looking for believable names,Soon after Patric had eye cancer and died a mysterious man, to add to the confusion   Patric was not the name he used either,I have used it here, lips remained sealed regards living and dead gangsters.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:44 pm

I can see where he'd find multiple names helpful. I wonder if his own grave was marked by his true name -  hope so, for his family's sake, if he had any and if this mattered to them.

Michael, you do move in interesting circles. That you are still here on this earthly plane suggests you're a fair judge of risk, and risky people -

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for smugglers. I like their entrepreneurial spirit.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:46 pm

Isan,

"You're being a little harsh on the old Oreo Stan :-)  Still, I would say that chocolate covered McVities have Oreos beat hands down."

Well, ok, maybe just a tiny bit harsh.  I do agree that the chocolate coated McVities beat the Oreos hands
down.  The only problem with the McVities is that they only chocolate coat one side of the biscuit !


Lise,

Thanks for the link to the BBC comments re Oreo cookies.  Oddly enough, some people over here like them !  I don`t think the American food hegemony thing will work out long term despite a fair bit of
acceptance at the moment.  There`s quite a bit of resistance to your Monsanto style foods in Europe and,
I accept that there is a growing movement  towards more healthy food on your side of the pond.
At the moment, there is a bit of a back lash against the giant American corporations such as Google,
Amazon and Starbucks.  They rack up massive sales and pay only tiny taxes to the countries where the
sales were generated.  The earnings are in Billions but the tax take is a few millions only.  This makes an
uneven playing field for our national companies plus the tax takes are diverted to various tax havens.

Starbucks is the most high profile company for criticism at the moment.  Having said that, I can`t really
blame them for using perfectly legal tax loopholes.   More fool us.  I think the European Union is working
on closing these loopholes throughout Europe.

You said...

"Pride in our bad food & high-calorie coffee just knows no bounds -"

Ha ha....what can I say ?   Actually, I think you can substitute "love of"  for "pride".  The big boys have
worked out what we love and know what makes us hooked on their `product`.  The thing is, if that so and
so coffee actually tasted good, they wouldn`t have to fiddle around and alter the taste in so many ways.
As you know, I dont like milky coffee anyway...I reckon they do that foamy topping to stop that milky skin
forming on top.  A big `yeach`for me......
So, Latte and bagel is a no thanks.  A piece of Matza and a lemon tea......now that`s something else !
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:06 am

Hi,

I love oreo cookies with double stuff.  I love hostess cupcakes and twinkles, too.  If you want to take it to a whole new level.

I was there when Eko and RM Meian and RM Daishin were talking about a monastic name for Brett.  The conversation was definitely about the meaning of the name and that it fit the new monk and it also needed to be a name to live up to.  The sound of the name was much less important in their conversation than the meaning.  Sophia means wisdom.  Definitely a name to live up to.

I felt the same way about monastic life as I did my new name.  I felt more at home sleeping in the zendo on the tan than I ever had in a bedroom.  I didn't have a place to go to feel cozy and sip tea during rest times.  The whole monastery was my bedroom and rest times were like all the other times. 

I loved the monastic way of life.  I liked just going from one activity to the next on the schedule.  There was no going to work and then being off work.  One activity just flowed into the next and then into the night and then into the next day. No breaks or divisions, just the flow of time.  

I actually felt like I belonged in the monastery right from the start in a way I never had in my home. Like a duck flying around it's whole life and finally finding the pond.  It was unfamiliar, but it felt right.  I didn't have the cozy safe feeling any more and I felt free.  It's funny that being inside a monastery and not really being able to leave at will made me feel free.

When I became chaplain a lot of that changed because I didn't follow the schedule as much.

Now, living outside the monastery I can still feel the flow of time sometimes, like I did in the monastery. Not as much, but some of the time.  I'm still so grateful for that experience.

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:57 am

Sophia, beautifully expressed!
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:51 am

H Sophia wrote:

I actually felt like I belonged in the monastery right from the start in a way I never had in my home. Like a duck flying around it's whole life and finally finding the pond.  It was unfamiliar, but it felt right.  I didn't have the cozy safe feeling any more and I felt free.  It's funny that being inside a monastery and not really being able to leave at will made me feel free.

Now, living outside the monastery I can still feel the flow of time sometimes, like I did in the monastery. Not as much, but some of the time.  I'm still so grateful for that experience.

Sophia
.
Yes, I also felt that the monastic life was "home" for many years.  Even after the negative aspects became intolerable and I left I still missed it for a long time.  I find there is continuity though.  Dogen's Uji comes to mind.
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PostSubject: Re: What's in a name?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:45 pm

H Sophia wrote:

. . .   I liked just going from one activity to the next on the schedule.  There was no going to work and then being off work.  One activity just flowed into the next and then into the night and then into the next day. No breaks or divisions, just the flow of time.  

 . . .


This was the best thing about the monastery environment, for me as a lay guest. I loved the rhythm of gearing up for an activity and then winding down, and not thinking about time. I try to remember how to do this on weekend days that I have to myself. I also loved the quietness, the expectation of minimizing chatter.
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