Buddhism Your Questions Answered (171 FAQ)

Q&A 2. Lodging the Application for Change of Name

Q: Should we burn the Application for Change of Name after praying to Guan Yin Bodhisattva for her blessing? When, where, and how should we proceed with this? I just downloaded the form and would like to use it for my child and myself. Please advise me on how to lodge the Application for Change of Name.

A:

  • A person’s name represents his or her spirit, meaning that whenever a person’s name is called, his or her soul and spirit will follow. Our original names that were given to us upon birth are not only written down on our birth certificates, but are also registered in the spiritual realms: the heaven and underworld. If you have changed names and used your new name for years, it is likely that your new name has become active spiritually. In this case, you can use your new name in performing your daily recitations and addressing your Little Houses. However, it would be best to lodge the Application for Change of Name to ensure that your new name is registered in the spiritual realms.
  • When you lodge the Application for Change of Name, you are updating your new name with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and officers who oversee matters related to name changes in the heaven and the underworld, and with other spiritual beings. Note that there is no need to update your name on your birth certificate, IDs, or any other documents.
  • You can download the Application for Change of Name form here. Use yellow A4 paper to print out the form.
  • Fill in both the applicant’s original and new name on the application form.
  • Write the original name where it says, “Devotee’s original full name”, and the new name where it says, “Now changed to” and “Devotee’s full name”.
  • Fill in the applicant’s date of birth according to the Gregorian calendar.
  • Fill in your current location, which is the location where you are going to perform the ritual to lodge the Application for Change of Name, in the “Location” field (e.g. “Beijing, China” or “Sydney, Australia”). Finally, fill in the date field, using the date of burning the application form.
  • It is best to burn the application form on sunny days. The best times are 6am, 8am, and 4pm.
  • You can also hand-write, instead of printing, the form on a piece of yellow paper based on the Application for Change of Name form here.
  • You can lodge the application form at home if you have a Buddhist altar. First, light the oil lamps, offer incense and read out the application in front of your altar (you may kneel while reading it). Then recite the Great Compassion Mantra 7 times and the Heart Sutra 7 times before burning the application form (from top to bottom).
  • If you do not have a Buddhist altar in your home, you can go to a Buddhist temple to lodge the application.
    You should first kneel and bow to every Buddha and Bodhisattva at the temple, then read out your application in the Guan Yin Hall, in front of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, “I, <your full name>, come to <name of the temple> today, to pay my respect to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in this temple. May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva be my witness and verify that my original name <old name> has been changed to <new name>. May all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in this temple be my witnesses.”
  • Next recite the Great Compassion Mantra 7 times and the Heart Sutra 7 times before burning your application form (from top to bottom) in the container where incense sticks or papers are burnt.
  • Generally speaking, you only need to lodge the application once. If, for some reason, you think that your change of name application did not go through, you can lodge it again.
  • It is best to lodge your Application for Change of Name yourself. If the applicant is a child who is too young to perform the ritual, his or her parents or elders may lodge the change of name application for the applicant.
  • There is no need to lodge a change of name application for a deceased person; just use the name that they used most often while they were alive.
  • If you have been called by several names in the past, and now you want to lodge the Application for Change of Name, you can pick the name that has been used most often as your original name (generally names that have been used for more than a decade are already active spiritually), or you can write all the names ever used in the past under “Devotee’s original full name.”
  • If you are unsure of what your original name is, in cases of adoption where you never found out your birth name, you may lodge the Application for True Name. Download the Application for True Name here.
  • To determine whether your Application for Change of Name has been successfully lodged, address your Little Houses to the “Karmic Creditor of <your new full name>” and assess their effectiveness after burning those Little Houses. Suppose you have been unwell physically, lacking energy, or experiencing nightmares, but you feel much better after burning the Little Houses with your new name on them, this indicates that your application for a change of name has been successful. Please refer to Q&A 81: How to determine if an Application for Change of Name is successful.
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