When you are laity and given a Buddhist name does it change with different masters and temples or do you carry it with you for life? While mostly pertaining to the Vietnamese tradition I'm very curious about all. Thank you.
In Sri Lanka it is generally the towns name followed by a name given at ordination.
E.g. Henepola Gunaratana
- Henepola is the village name
- Gunaratana is the name given at ordination
I guess in other countries you might follow different schemes.
You might become famous by the monastery's name: Ledi Sayadaw (U Ñanadhaja), PA Auk Sayadaw (U Āciṇṇa) though the Dhamma name is different and hardly used. E.g. U Ñanadhaja, U Āciṇṇa. I guess you see this more in Burma.
Also names can be completely independent of monastery or town. E.g. Thanisaro Bikkhu, Achan Cha. I guess this is more seen in Thai Land.
In all of these cases the lay name has been changes and a Dhamma name has been taken at ordination.
Within the Triratna Buddhist Order, an order member is given a name upon ordination by his or her preceptor. This is part of the "private ordination" at which the practice of the ordinand is witnessed by the private preceptor as being effective. At the "public ordination", some time later, the name is made public and the ordinand is welcomed into the Order by a public preceptor (sometimes, but not always, a more senior order member than the private preceptor).
The name is both an aspiration and a recognition of something already present in the person, or one or the other (what may or may not be conveyed to the ordinand). The name may also hint at the individual path taken by the order member, as recognised by the private preceptor.
Some, but far from all, also change their legal name to the name given at ordination.
It happens that people leave the order for various reasons. I believe that some choose to keep their "Buddhist names". The name is, after all, actually not directly linked to them being member of the order, but to the recognition and witnessing of the effectiveness of their practice.
My experience with this is limited, but I'm happy to share what I've observed. My own practice is in the Theravada tradition where only ordained monastics and anagarikas receive a Buddhist name. An ordinary lay person would not receive one.
I've visited three local Mahayana groups and temples (in the US) as a guest and at each one it was mentioned that for those new to Buddhism, if one was interested in taking refuge formally for the first time, a taking refuge ceremony was periodically available. In this taking refuge ceremony, a dharma name would be given. Requirements varied from simple sincere interest in taking refuge (at two temples) to completing coursework in Buddhist studies and attending a retreat before the taking refuge ceremony became available (with a lay led group).
At the two temples (one Korean Seon and the other a mixed tradition with a Chan monk who visits periodically), dharma names were chosen for each person taking refuge by the monks. At the lay led Buddhist group (Jōdo Shinshū), a dharma name was chosen by the person taking refuge themselves from this list of names.
Obviously, this is nothing conclusive, but the offer at each of these locations was to those taking refuge/precepts for the first time (or for the first time formally or publicly). These being English speaking groups in the US, it was understood that virtually everyone in attendance had converted to Buddhism and the taking refuge ceremony was considered quite meaningful to formalize one's intentions to follow the Buddha's teachings.
Receiving a dharma name did not appear to be connected to the particular group, temple, teacher, or monk, but simply as part of an initiation into Buddhism for those who were regular members of each of the various groups.