21 November 2011

A Priest By No Other Name

Back in July I started seriously kicking around the idea of taking my ordained name as my legal name.  Today I filed the papers with the Cook County Circuit Court and paid my court fee.  The hearing is set for January 25, 2012, at which time it will become official.

I settled on this course of action mostly because it really does seem to be the case that service to the Dharma has, over the past three years or so (roughly novitiate through ordination until now), become the center around which my life revolves.   I find myself planning the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years against the backdrop of being an ordained member of the sangha.  I've already decided against things because of my ordained status, and I'm choosing to do more and more things to deepen that commitment.  My life stream has found a new bed.

Even more importantly, though, the sangha – from the head of the lineage on down – has seen fit to affirm me as a priest in their midst.  If it weren't for their overwhelmingly generous acceptance of me as an ordained member of the sangha, anything I would happen to feel about how my life is unfolding would run the risk of being a personal head trip.  I wouldn't do this if I were getting even the slightest sense that sangha members were looking at me even now and saying, "Him?  That one thinks he's a priest?"

As with all things in life, this is a kind of experiment.  Maybe it'll bear fruit, as I hope, but maybe it'll prove to have been a rather boneheaded thing to do.  Who knows?  I see this as just one more opportunity to go even more deeply into the Dharma, to paint more and more aspects of my life with the colors of practice and service.  My preceptor concluded the ordination ceremony with the words, "You have now entered the Way as a Buddhist priest."  Now I will get to pass through one dharma gate after another with just that one name attached. 

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