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Question: Dhamma name and robes

CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue)United States Veteran
edited September 4 in Buddhism Basics

Please be kind. I have a couple of questions. They probably been asked before but still...

-

Yesterday, rather, was a long day. I took the The Refuges at a Zen Vietnamese temple near me. We celebrated the Ullambana ceremony where we gave our respects to the deceased for their well being and liberation. Our Master of the Sangha gave us newbies a Dhamma name.

It's in vietnamese. My name is Phò Hiêñ Hanh.

They said in English it means Loving-Kindness or Kind Virtue. I looked it up to learn more about it. I think I'm spelling it wrong because I got resturant results instead. Also, the "n" has a straight line but it wasn't in the special characters option.

  1. If you're fluent in Vietnamese and/or native Vietnamese, can you let me know if I'm spelling this right or does this phrase have multiple meanings?

  2. When do lay practitioners wear their robes received during initiation?

I know we wear them during prayer, meditation, and visiting monasteries such as the one my master is in, but I've also seen monks wear them outside as well. She is the one that invited me to the temple.

  1. I'm sure it's not a requirement for lay buddhists, though, is it appropriate to remind yourself of the precepts until you don't have to wear it or is it only appropriate in settings I just mentioned?

I didn't think of it in time to ask our master and any of the sisters.

Thanks guys.

Bunks

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Wonderful news, congratulations! Taking on a new name is always an auspicious occasion...

    lobster
  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    Thank you! Yeah, you should have saw the smile on our faces. Our master was really nice about it. We had an English translator that and that was so helpful.

    I was reading in our handbook. We received a meditation and repentance handbook too, and it said keep in touch with the master or sisters at least (advised) once or twice a month to help me keep with the Dhamma.

    A lot to learn.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited September 4

    Don't make the names and robes too sacred...

    Disclaimer: Although, also V-Zen..,..I'm only speaking for the monastery I attend...so...the "rules" may vary. ....AFA I know, robes can be bought anywhere.....where them where you want.

    Whos gonna call the Dharma police on you?

    FWIW...I was pretty disappointed how the whole thing went for me. Which worked in my favor...hahaha..I'll post/re-tell my story...It's in a previous thread, along with other POVs

    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/21397/my-jukai#latest

    They were pretty much mass produced as in...everyone in the group and everyone that showed up on retreat got one ....except for me. Personal to that individual ?? ... Eh... Not so much. IMO, pretty generic... " One who is compassionate"... " He who sits with stillness"..." You got a calm mind"...etc..

    The ones who did get names...don't attend anymore and I'm still left. No name and all. .. :) ..

    karastilobster
  • @Carlita. What wonderful news. I am so very happy for you. Go to the temple as often as possible. Especially in the beginning. Cultivate the precious seed of Dharma both for yourself and all sentient beings. Will you accept my humble bow?

    Carlitalobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited September 4

    Names are kind of a funny thing, whether your "real" name or a Dharma name. I often wonder where we would find ourselves if we had no name and then chose our own down the line. Or how often it would change. SO much of our strongly held identities, dharma or otherwise, are tied to our name. What if we let that go? Having a name makes us feel included, like we belong. But as @Vastmind's experience suggests, does it matter?

    I was given a dharma name by my teacher. My certificate sits in a folder with some other materials. I have to stop to think what my name is. We never use them, even in Sangha. Every person in our Sangha starts with the same prefix, and it was kind of like random adjectives were added as the second word. We are all Gyurme (which means unchanging) something or other. I have a good relationship with my teacher, but years ago when I took refuge and received my name, he barely knew me. Certainly not enough to name me Unchanging Radiant Woman, :lol: For me, it is just kind of a private thing I keep. Not much different than my baptismal record from when I was an infant. Nice to have but has no bearing on my practice or my interaction with my Sangha brothers and sisters.

    It is interesting to me that lay folk get robes. I didn't realize that was "a thing"!

    For me, the most important part of the whole refuge ceremony experience was the promises I made to myself, and those my teacher made to me to be my dharma guide. All the rest was just sort of pomp and circumstance.

    CarlitalobsterJamesTimm
  • In many Asian way places lay folk wear robes in the temple and during special observations. The monks are always robed plus the precept sash. Alas my robes were a sign of failure not success.

  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran
    edited September 4

    To tell you honestly, from my rudimentary understanding Buddhism until yesterday, I only thought monks wore robes. Our master and sister (we refer to our teacher as master and monk sister or brother in the Vietnamese tradition), said they were "student" robes and we are to wear them when we come to the temple for whatever reason. They are sky blue rather than maroon and orange as the monks wear.

    I was reading online that when the teacher doesn't have a good relationship with the student, he or she is given a general Dhamma name similar to that of the Bodhisattvas. For example, the man beside me his name is Wisdom and Gratitude. I know there is a Bodhisattva named Love and Kindness but I can't figure his actual name before The Buddha gave it to him.

    I used to practice American Sign Language and was heavily involved within the Deaf community. Given the experience and like culture, naming people based on their personality etc was essential. It was literally defining a person rather than giving the person a title or simply saying "hey human being." I'd think the Deaf community would be disconnected if names didnt exist to connect each person to others within the community Even the word deaf and Deaf have two separate meanings. The former is the inability to hear and the second can range from a hard of hearing person or profoundly Deaf but the foundation is their relationship within the Deaf community not their ability to hear.

    Our Dhamma names look like passports. It's a small little cute book that reminds us of the refuges and precepts. I can't pronounce my Vietnamese name so I just stick with Kind Virtue or Love Kindness. They used both.

    @karasti said:
    Names are kind of a funny thing, whether your "real" name or a Dharma name. I often wonder where we would find ourselves if we had no name and then chose our own down the line. Or how often it would change. SO much of our strongly held identities, dharma or otherwise, are tied to our name. What if we let that go? Having a name makes us feel included, like we belong. But as @Vastmind's experience suggests, does it matter?

    I was given a dharma name by my teacher. My certificate sits in a folder with some other materials. I have to stop to think what my name is. We never use them, even in Sangha. Every person in our Sangha starts with the same prefix, and it was kind of like random adjectives were added as the second word. We are all Gyurme (which means unchanging) something or other. I have a good relationship with my teacher, but years ago when I took refuge and received my name, he barely knew me. Certainly not enough to name me Unchanging Radiant Woman, :lol: For me, it is just kind of a private thing I keep. Not much different than my baptismal record from when I was an infant. Nice to have but has no bearing on my practice or my interaction with my Sangha brothers and sisters.

    It is interesting to me that lay folk get robes. I didn't realize that was "a thing"!

    For me, the most important part of the whole refuge ceremony experience was the promises I made to myself, and those my teacher made to me to be my dharma guide. All the rest was just sort of pomp and circumstance.

  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    It's not the robe itself. It's specifically related to the vows we took and the use of those specific robes (and if it gets dirty, they have extras) that our master tells us to wear when we go to the temples. For those new into the tradition, it's highly advice to keep tradition. As time goes on, it depends on whether one stays as a lay practitioner or decides to take a vocation as a monk.

    But, yeah, the point of really not wearing it outside is pretty realistic. Don't get them dirty. Outside of that, I was told wearing them (beginners note) in general reminds one of the vows until they don't need to wear them anymore outside formal celebrations. Kind of like meditation and counting one's breathe. After a while, one doesn't need to count.

    My name is generic too. I read that personalized names depend on how well the teacher knows his student. I'll have a look-read of your post.

    @Vastmind said:
    Don't the names and robes too sacred...

    Disclaimer: Although, also V-Zen..,..I'm only speaking for the monastery I attend...so...the "rules" may vary. ....AFA I know, robes can be bought anywhere.....where them where you want.

    Whos gonna call the Dharma police on you?

    FWIW...I was pretty disappointed how the whole thing went for me. Which worked in my favor...hahaha..I'll post/re-tell my story...It's in a previous thread, along with other POVs

    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/21397/my-jukai#latest

    They were pretty much mass produced as in...everyone in the group and everyone that showed up on retreat got one ....except for me. Personal to that individual ?? ... Eh... Not so much. IMO, pretty generic... " One who is compassionate"... " He who sits with stillness"..." You got a calm mind"...etc..

    The ones who did get names...don't attend anymore and I'm still left. No name and all. .. :) ..

  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    Yes, of course :) Thank you or cảm ơn bạn.

    I still don't know how to pronounce it. Bowing is soo much easier.

    @grackle said:
    @Carlita. What wonderful news. I am so very happy for you. Go to the temple as often as possible. Especially in the beginning. Cultivate the precious seed of Dharma both for yourself and all sentient beings. Will you accept my humble bow?

  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    I have another question. Our sister mentioned about observance and reminder of our vows on the full moon. Is that all full moons or during a specific time during the year? I tried to find it online (as always) but couldnt find any results I could trust.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Every full moon commemorates a signifiant event in the Buddha's Life and experience.

    In May, the Full Moon is held to be particularly significant as it is an official marking of the Buddha's Birth, moment of Enlightenment, and Death. This festival is known as Vesak (or sometimes, Wesak).

    Any other month, the full moon is significant in that you can have a minor remembrance-fest of your own, and fast, meditate and commemorate as you see fit.... As I understand it.

    Carlita
  • From my time in Sri Lanka every full moon was observed as a time close following of vows. Then there are full moons that fall on major holidays where lay people often stay in a temple very briefly and follow temporarily follow other vows eg one meal a day.

    Carlita
  • You could google poya days. To get an idea of the scope of full moon holidays. Its nice to know those days. To feel that beautiful unity of all our brothers and sisters.

    Carlita
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Laypeople generally only wear the robes during formal practice, group or alone, and ceremonies.

    Carlita
  • NMADDPNMADDP SUN Diego, California Explorer

    Congradulation!!! @Carlita

    Regarding your Vietnamese Dharma name, I searched. This is what I can come up "Phò Hiêñ Hanh" => "Phổ Hiền Hạnh"

    There is a Bodhisattva with the name "Phổ Hiền".
    Phổ Hiền Bồ tát (Vietnamese)
    普賢 菩薩 (Chinese)
    Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantabhadra

    If the spelling is correct, the name "Phổ Hiền Hạnh" means to try to follow the Samantabhadra dBodhisattva's vows (see wiki)

    As others said already, the Dharma name does have a meaning for each individual taking the three refuges. If the master knows the individual well, the Dhrama name will be more meaningful for the individual to practice with.

    Regarding the robe, for lay people, different traditions may have different type robes and colors.
    The Buddhist Vietnamese song below has many pictures of lay people wear different kind of robes and colors.
    Title: Đạo Tràng Tịnh Độ (Pureland Buddhism Society)

    A Mi Tuo Fo

    Carlita
  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    Thank you! The Pho, when my peer wrote it, had a 2 at the top. But that right. When I looked it up I did see Samantabhadra Bodhisattva but I didn't know if it was related to my Dhamma name translated to Vietnamese.

    With the robes, I was lucky it was a full moon so I decided to wear it during the day. I was told to keep in touch and especially in May, but full moons in general, revisit my vows. That would be the only days (and celebration, holidays, and prayers) I'd wear it.

    @NMADDP said:
    Congradulation!!! @Carlita

    Regarding your Vietnamese Dharma name, I searched. This is what I can come up "Phò Hiêñ Hanh" => "Phổ Hiền Hạnh"

    There is a Bodhisattva with the name "Phổ Hiền".
    Phổ Hiền Bồ tát (Vietnamese)
    普賢 菩薩 (Chinese)
    Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantabhadra

    If the spelling is correct, the name "Phổ Hiền Hạnh" means to try to follow the Samantabhadra dBodhisattva's vows (see wiki)

    As others said already, the Dharma name does have a meaning for each individual taking the three refuges. If the master knows the individual well, the Dhrama name will be more meaningful for the individual to practice with.

    Regarding the robe, for lay people, different traditions may have different type robes and colors.
    The Buddhist Vietnamese song below has many pictures of lay people wear different kind of robes and colors.
    Title: Đạo Tràng Tịnh Độ (Pureland Buddhism Society)

    A Mi Tuo Fo

  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    @Carlita said:

    Thank you! The Pho, when my peer wrote it, had a 2 at the top. But that right. When I looked it up I did see Samantabhadra Bodhisattva but I didn't know if it was related to my Dhamma name translated to Vietnamese.

    With the robes, I was lucky it was a full moon so I decided to wear it during the day. I was told to keep in touch and especially in May, but full moons in general, revisit my vows. That would be the only days (and celebration, holidays, and prayers) I'd wear it.

    @NMADDP said:
    Congradulation!!! @Carlita

    Regarding your Vietnamese Dharma name, I searched. This is what I can come up "Phò Hiêñ Hanh" => "Phổ Hiền Hạnh"

    There is a Bodhisattva with the name "Phổ Hiền".
    Phổ Hiền Bồ tát (Vietnamese)
    普賢 菩薩 (Chinese)
    Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantabhadra

    If the spelling is correct, the name "Phổ Hiền Hạnh" means to try to follow the Samantabhadra dBodhisattva's vows (see wiki)

    As others said already, the Dharma name does have a meaning for each individual taking the three refuges. If the master knows the individual well, the Dhrama name will be more meaningful for the individual to practice with.

    Regarding the robe, for lay people, different traditions may have different type robes and colors.
    The Buddhist Vietnamese song below has many pictures of lay people wear different kind of robes and colors.
    Title: Đạo Tràng Tịnh Độ (Pureland Buddhism Society)

    A Mi Tuo Fo

    Oh, also, this is a beautiful song. The blue robes you see worn are the ones we received.

  • NMADDPNMADDP SUN Diego, California Explorer

    @Carlita, BTW, at home, when you are doing any related Buddhist ceremonies and rituals, you can also wear to robe. It is to keep you in a more formal, dignified, solemn and peaceful mode. For example, you can wear you robe at home when you are doing mediation (sitting or walking) or chanting/reciting Buddha name, sutra, mantra. You can always check with the master(s) and other sister and brother practitioners when it is the right occasion to wear the robe.

    A Mi Tuo Fo

    CarlitaJamesTimmlobster
  • Interesting tradition of lay people wearing robes. In 17 years of active Buddhism (within dharma communities) I have not encountered this before.

    One piece of advice .. neither the robes nor a dharma name make you a Buddhist, nor do they hasten your learning. In fact, the more attached we become to having a dharma name or to robes or to these things defining ourselves, the more these things will obstruct our progress. Use with care, I guess.

    Btw, the dharma name is usually a quality the teacher perceives us as lacking .. so it is something we need to work on. It helps to not invest our ego too much into our dharma name, but rather to invest humor and humility to it.

    dhammachick
  • CarlitaCarlita Phò thiện hạnh (Kind Virtue) United States Veteran

    @FoibleFull said:
    Interesting tradition of lay people wearing robes. In 17 years of active Buddhism (within dharma communities) I have not encountered this before.

    One piece of advice .. neither the robes nor a dharma name make you a Buddhist, nor do they hasten your learning. In fact, the more attached we become to having a dharma name or to robes or to these things defining ourselves, the more these things will obstruct our progress. Use with care, I guess.

    Btw, the dharma name is usually a quality the teacher perceives us as lacking .. so it is something we need to work on. It helps to not invest our ego too much into our dharma name, but rather to invest humor and humility to it.

    That makes sense. Im a ritual person. If I could become a monk, I would but my circumstance and mindset right now would make it inappropriate. Im sure monks arent attached to their robes either.

    I think it has more to do with culture. The other temple I practiced in for three years did not give us robes. The priest had robes, though. I didnt become an inititate at their temple because they literally have a "you Must follow our rules". It was literally political in nature. No other religion I know has this onetheless Buddhist.

    What was nice is the sister who invited me to the monastary invited me to stay the night o the holidays since I live so far out. Also, she says if I need help with keeping the precepts I took refuge in, just let her know. I dont know about other temples outside the other I practiced in above, but they really put emphasis on cultural appropriate in relation to the Dhamma. I wish I knew Vietnamese to have a good conversation with our master. We did get a chance to ask questions before taking the refuges (intepreter present). The master didnt know me to give me a name more associated with what I need and dont. Though, it is nice because that is the one aspect of many of the Dhamma I would practice.

    I was reading about monks taking the vow of povety and laity help monks and the poor. They receive marits in return. The Sangha gave me a lot just that one day I ca t find a way to give back my gratitude.

    It goes beyond meditation. Its a real lifestyle.

    FoibleFulllobster
  • So here is a specific inquiry. I have my own "lay" robe, specific to Soto Zen. I have not taken precepts formally, have not received jukai (lay Buddhist ordination), but have been practicing shikantaza as a solitary practitioner for many years. My question is this; Is it disrespectful to show up for zazen at a Soto zendo wearing a lay robe or am I overthinking (as per....) this potential sangha faux pas?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @IronRabbit, Have you been wearing your robe frequently during private practice?

  • @federica, Yes...but...why does this seem like a trick question that wasn't supposed to be on the exam?

    Carlita
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited September 9

    Right, @IronRabbit; the reason I ask is that, if you are accustomed to wearing the robes, then it's unlikely you would feel any discomfiture or have an impression of being 'out of place' in a public environment such as a Soto Zen Temple.
    If you've had the robes a while, but have not been in the habit of wearing them, putting them on to go to the temple may make you feel self-conscious, or "a bit of a fraud"....

    You've worn them as a matter of course. Wear them to the temple.
    I very much doubt anyone would make an observation, but if anyone does, smile benignly, bow slightly and walk away. ;)

  • Ghasso, @federica. Thanks for the encouragement. My purpose in asking was to determine if any zennies might advise if a zendo's roshi may be the one to "sanction" lay practitioners wearing robes in his house. One trip to a zendo found me observing people bowing to doors, trees and of all things, a piano.....so this line cracked me up - and I will take and use the suggestion, "I very much doubt anyone would make an observation, but if anyone does, smile benignly, bow slightly and walk away." You da best-a....

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