Twenty-one years ago when I became a Zen Buddhist and vowed to uphold the ten precepts of Buddhism, I was given the dharma name of Myochi, which means Wondrous Wisdom. It felt like a name that would take me many lifetimes to fit into.
I don’t use it much anymore since leaving my teacher a few years ago after his sangha blew apart over a sexual scandal of his own creation. This was traumatic for me and as significant a loss as any death. In the aftermath, I went through all the stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, and acceptance. And tremendous amounts of sadness. Then, finally, forgiveness and moving on.
One of the casualties of this experience was my dharma name. I lost my Zen sangha, and people in my civilian life never called me Myochi, so I stopped using it. It, along with everything connected to that experience felt toxic, so I left it by the wayside. It took me more than three years to go back to the zendo to pick up my robe and rakusu, on the back of which my former teacher had written in calligraphy my new name and the date of the ceremony.
Today, as I embark on a new venture—being a student in the NYZZCC Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care course that could lead me into Chaplaincy in the future if I choose that path—it feels like it’s time to resurrect this name.
I will be volunteering in a hospital a few hours a week, to be there for patients and their families when they want someone to just listen, or when they’re in need of comforting, or when they just want a gentle hand to hold.
As I enter this new and unknown territory, I will take my name with me because I think I will need all the wisdom I can find to help where I can those who are suffering, who have lost someone, who are dying.
When I was given this name all those years ago, it took a while to get used to it. I remember checking out its numerological significance and was told that when I use this name I become more caring, generous, and openhearted. I’m not sure this is true, but I do know that I want to bring all these qualities with me into this new aspect of my work.
I hope I am up to it. I hope I can bring some comfort to those in need. I hope this name and its meaning helps me to help them. I am once again grateful to have the name and know in my heart that this new path will further purify it, me, and my old teacher. May we all seek and be filled with wondrous wisdom.