Reflections on Naming

Filed under: — Matt @ 11:08 am

Although I’ve been provisionally calling this project the “Wilderness Dharma Center,” by no means is this necessarily the best or final name, and I’d love to hear any feedback that people might have regarding naming.  It seems to me that a good name is very important in conveying a positive and accurate impression about an organization. 

This can happen figuratively and implicitly (e.g. Outward Bound or Stepping Stones) with the emphasis on the feeling-tone. It can also happen more literally and explicitly (e.g. NOLS- National Outdoor Leadership School or BAYAS - Bay Area Young Adult Sangha) with a more specific definition of the mission and scope of the organization.

As a name, then, “Wilderness Dharma Center” is taking the more specific approach.  I am not entirely happy with it, however, for several reasons:

  • As mentioned above, any literal and specific name by definition constrains the scope of the project.  Especially given that this project is still in nascent form, it might be advantageous to maintain more freedom of direction and scope for the project by choosing a less specific name.
  • Although it names two of the main streams of training (experience in nature and dharma practice), it does not allude to the other central component of the center (leadership training and interpersonal awareness).
  • The use of the word “dharma” seems to be a mixed bag. 
    • One one hand, it has the advantage of succinctly suggesting the depth and richness of the entire set of Buddhist teachings and culture (including ethics/morality, mindfulness/concentration, and wisdom/compassion), all of which are essential components of the center.   Additionally, the sense of “dharma” as a synonym for “Universal Truth” (or even the “truth of the way things are") accords well with one of the project’s central principles of recognizing and experiencing the teachings available through close contact with Nature.
    • On the other hand, these Buddhist (and Hindu) associations with the Sanskrit word “dharma” might be a deterrent for certain populations with which we might want to work.  This relates to a very important  and probably more fundamental question: “Is this a Buddhist organization?"  To investigate this important issue, please consult the discussion of this more specific topic.
Once again, your feedback and suggestions are most appreciated.  Please feel free to brainstorm the naming question without inhibition – all thoughts and ideas, however silly or seemingly irrelevant, are valuable and might in fact be the catalyst that we are seeking.

1 Comment »

  1. I happen to agree with the sentiment that Wilderness Dharma is too explicit a name, and while it would draw the “Buddhist/Spiritual” crowd, it might discourage others who would be interested. It seems to be a limiting name.

    Comment by sam — 11/23/2004 @ 1:10 pm

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