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February 07, 2011


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Thanks for the eye opener.
I usually find myself try to make some poor excuse for my state after I've already said/done something regrettable rather than take full responsibility...

mama p

i suppose it all depends on context, you know? like anything else. when i began blogging, i used my real name, but i hid behind an "alternate" email addy, so that nafarious people (like old high-school flames) couldn't "find" me. then, had just given birth and i wanted to protect my child, and our combined identity. now i am all over the place covering different topics by different names and in doing so, i am discovering the many parts of myself. and the final irony? i've been married twice and i've changed my name legally a stunning 5 times-- 5 times!!-- including once for a very special spiritual/religious reason.

and that's not even counting the 2 buddhist names i've received, for the 2 vow-taking ceremonies i've participated in.

the most important name i have? the one my little "sensei" calls me,
which i will employ here
(with the adage, "still as sweet"):
Mama P.


Thank you Barry. Important post.

Though I do conceal my surname on the Internet, I do use my real-life first name, and I have just the one single email address.

I also found, a month or two ago, that switching from an avatar (albeit one that showed the Chinese characters of my Dharma name) to a real photo of me, changed considerably the way I write on the net and the frequency of my comments on other people's blogs.

Thank you for raising these issues here, and thank you for the letter to Shambhala Sun.

Marcus _/\_


While I appreciate Mama P's context comments, and think that should be taken in consideration, having read the article in question, anonymity isn't necessary or warranted. While it was enjoyable to read his writing, I wondered, too, who this guy was and what his intent was with the article. It seems to me that the author wishes to maintain whatever role or position he has within his community, while doing some serious questioning about aspects of it. Unless what he raised might place his life in danger (which I doubt), hiding is just hiding.

I've written about challenges in my own sangha on my blog, and because I know some members read it, it makes me pause and think about how I'm presenting issues, as well as what the intent is behind presenting issues. If it's just something I'm cranky about at the time, I tend to not write about it. If it's something I'm too unclear about, I also tend to not write about it.

As the president of our sangha's board, I'm well aware of thoughts about attachment to position, and in that light, sometimes I have made statements about difficulties in my community - either online or within our community - in part, to shake any attachments to position I have. If the situation requires honesty, and I'm too busy trying to "look good," it hurts myself and the community as a whole.

So, with "Shozen's" article, it seems like he has an opportunity to work with some issues head on. And maybe he's doing that back in his sangha, but maintaining anonymity in the magazine can give people the idea that it's fine to bitch, but not really do anything about the content of the bitching.

Mark O'Leary

Writers of all types have many reasons--some good, some not so good--for using pseudonyms. In this case, I find the objection to the Shambhala article completely hollow, and the pronouncement that "...the work of responsibility...is, after all, the essence of the Buddha Dharma" pious and self-serving. Do not presume to know the mind of the author of the article.



Did you read the article in question? Or is this just generalized angst about pious statements?

I have been on both sides of the table - as a writer and as an editor. Just because an author wants to remain anonymous, even if the reason seems fair, doesn't mean you should publish the article. Or just because you know publishing something will gain your publication attention doesn't mean you should. And as an author, just because you have a good story to tell, or think what you have to say must be heard, doesn't mean that you - publishing as an anonymous writer - must be the one to tell it.

Seriously, it's not only the author's "mind" or reasoning that is important, it's also the larger context around what is being written about, how the content could impact others, and the intentions of the publication doing the publishing.

mama p

Alrighteee, absent of a copy of the physical article in question, i checked out the link. and i enjoyed the editor's disclaimer:
"He is a Zen practitioner living somewhere in the U.S. who presumably wants to protect his right to embarrassing self-revelation."

in the snippet available online, he ~also~ doesn't reveal his teacher's identity, and talks in very general terms about his sangha. what struck me-- again, a big assumption because it's just a snippet-- Shozan Jack Haubner is "everyman", every, single, one, of, us. and perhaps he's not so much "hiding" himself as "exposing" us: because (based on the snippet), i've had thoughts just like what he's describing that myself (in the snippet).

so for fun, i decided to pick apart Jack's name. the first thing that strikes me is Jack reminds me of the phrase, "you don't know Jack." it is also the "familiar" of the formal name "John", as in "John Doe".

looking up Shozan, it turns out it's the more elegant term for a low-ranking temple in a particular japanese system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Mountain_System#The_Shozan)
also, there are some entertaining translations of the kanji for sho zan
-- my favorite would equate something like, "despicable commoner". very funny, Jack!

finally, for grins? i checked out ancestry.com to translate that interesting last name... an old german "maker of headgear" at some time during the crusades, as it turns out. (said headgear would look something like this: http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2218&view=next

of course, none of this may have anything whatsoever to do with anything, but... it's kinda fun!

i shall have to get the article...

mama p

...returning after having read his *other* articles, the ones available online:
you know what? i'm glad i have no idea who this guy is. it's more interesting that way! great stuff. that's my $.02...

Barry Briggs

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. I appreciate everyone's willingness to share how they experience this topic and, thus, to stretch my own perceptions of it.


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