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Receiving My Buddhist Name (Homyo)

In 2008, I was certified as a Minster’s Assistant—a first step in a long and often surprising journey to ordination and my current position as an Assistant Minister here at IOBT.  At the time of my certification,  I received my Homyo or Dharma name.  The name I received was Ren Sho 蓮生 “to live as a lotus.” The first character “ren” means “lotus” and the second character “sho” means “to live.”  The lotus is known for its beautiful flower, but what is especially impressive about the lotus is that the vibrant beautiful flower grows out of dirty, muddy ponds. 

>A pink lotus growing in muddy waters

Image:  A beautiful pink lotus thrives in the mud

As I was beginning my path into Buddhist ministry, my Homyo honored the challenges I had faced in my life so far as well as the challenges and frustrations I would likely face in my studies and in life.  These challenges were the mud, but they were not necessarily bad.   Just like the lotus draws nourishment out of the mud, we humans can learn from challenges and difficulties in daily life.  The lotus cannot thrive without the mud.   For me, my Homyo, Ren Sho, reminds me to be patient, to see the value in struggles, and to aspire to “bloom”--to try to find and create beauty--even in the midst of challenges.  

Embroidered white lotus

Image:  An embroidered white lotus from a handmade Buddhist Women's Association quilt

I did not get the name because I was already doing these things—I got the name because I hoped that I could learn to live like a lotus.  I had not earned the name—the name I had received was there to help remind me of the Buddhist path I had chosen.

You may be wondering if you can get a Buddhist name! In our tradition it is possible for lay people (those who are not ordained as ministers, monks, or nuns) to receive Buddhist names.  As you may know, Buddhist names are often presented to the deceased as part of our funeral rituals.  But you don’t have to either die or get ordained to receive a homyo-- it is also possible for people who want to affirm their commitment to a Buddhist path to receive their Buddhist name during their lifetime through a Buddhist naming ceremony called the Kieshiki.

Kieshiki services are officiated by the Buddhist Churches of America Bishop. This special service is an opportunity for Jodo Shinshu Buddhists to affirm their entry onto the Path of Nembutsu, take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,  and receive their Homyo (Buddhist name).  They are only offered occasionally and require planning ahead. 

 Image: A Raggedy Anne quilt square from the BWA Quilt.  (Growing up with the name "Anne" I always identified with Raggedy Anne and often lived up to the adjective "raggedy" as I wore my brothers' hand-me-down clothes and loved to play in the woods!)

Are you interested in receiving a Buddhist Name? 

If you feel like it is the right time in your life to participate in the Kieshiki, taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and receiving a Buddhist name, you will have an opportunity at the upcoming  2024 Northwest District Convention. To commemorate the Churches of America's 125th Anniversary, White River Buddhist Temple will be holding a Kieshiki, or Buddhist Name Affirmation Ceremony, officiated by Bishop Marvin Harada during the convention.

Anyone who is a member of any Buddhist Churches of America affiliated temple/church may apply for the Kieshiki, but you must be able to attend in-person for the Kieshiki Ceremony during the service on Sunday, September 15, 2024 at the Muckleshoot Casino Resort. There is a $35 donation for each Kieshiki application.  The application will be closed on Sunday, July 14 at 11:59 pm.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to apply to receive a Homyo, please go to"}">

In Gassho, 

Rev. Anne