Upaya Zen Center, Zen & Dharma

My name is Roshin

dew dropMy name is Roshin: Dew Drop Mind.

This name was bestowed on me today by Roshi Joan in jukai, and it is absolutely my name. It fits just right.

‘Carmen’ is a name for spanish dancers and vamps, porn stars, video-game characters and drag queens. I’ve been wearing that handle my whole life, and it has always felt like the wrong size shoe. Too much drama. So not me. It creaks on my lips and sits badly on the page. Carmen Mills has crappy meter; it sounds like a saltshaker rolling off a table. But Roshin Carmen Mills, now that, has a nice, loping rhythm. Soft, but not girly. Unusual but not flaky, nor conspicuously Japanese.

Typographically, the word ‘Carmen’ is like a caterpillar bumping down a sidewalk. It is boring to typeset and no fun to write. But Roshin – well! ‘R’ has always been my favourite capital. I once did a whole comparative study of the letter R in typography class. R is a sexy letter. It has wild asymetry, and straight lines and curves and a counter. And I get a letter ‘H’–oh finally, an ascender! A loop! A giraffe! A tower! There’s even an ‘i’, with a dot! Oh stop me, I’m getting overheated.

So then: Dew Drop Mind. Roshi Joan warns that the dharma name is not to be flashed like a badge, but held close as an aspiration and a challenge. I could imagine that my mind is always clear and bright as a dew drop on a spiderweb, but I know that it can be cloudy and dim. I can easily dull my crystal mind with doubts and distractions. When my mind is bright and selfless, it reflects all the brilliance around it. When my mind is clear it can hold the entirety of the moon. I vow to perceive reality clearly.

And then, there’s this bonus: yesterday someone shouted to me, “Dew Drop who?” and I had the great satisfaction of replying: “dew drop in, any old time!” Buh-dum-bum.

I am Roshin Carmen Mills: Dew Drop Mind.

7 Comments on “My name is Roshin

  1. What a great idea having an appendage to your birth name. I seem to remember In the 60s people were forever changing their names, it got quite embarrassing meeting up with someone and greeting them with Hi Frank , ” no it’s not that any more it’s siddhartha ” , sorry I’ll try again . When I was a kid we all had nick names I was called Toe-knee-chest-nut , start from your leg and work up . They were cleverclogs in those war years !

  2. Welcome Dew Drop Mind, welcome Roshin Carmen, welcome this aspect of you blossoming into the world.
    Last year I participated in a year-long inquiry process called “Stewarding Soul” and we welcomed each aspect of soul wanting/ needing to come forth & be present. And so I share this greeting with this aspect of you emerging more fully into yourself.

  3. Ahhh…
    A lovely and inspired rife on clarity, the power of name, and holding close that which quietly and deeply nourishes us.

    If we were drinking it would be “Roshin..Gan Bei!!” Here’s to your new shoes.

  4. Hooray for your new journey and hence the constant transmogrification of reality and life goes on! I appreciate your story here and am looking forward to seeing you soon….or later… or whenever!

  5. I’m catching up on the blog and was naturally drawn to this entry. Though I lack your background in design, I share your enthusiasm for new letters. I now get to welcome a J into my life; finally my pen gets to swoop below the line 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *