The name Merrick is Welsh for Lord of the Sea. I am Nichiren Buddhist. Our mantra, which is called the daimoku, is Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Our sect’s founder, Nichiren Daishonin, has described this mantra as a ship that helps you cross the sea of suffering. At the head of that ship is the Buddha. And not just the historical Buddha; the Buddha can be anyone who is enlightened to the reality of their life. Because I have now become enlightened to the reality of my whole self—and that continues to evolve—I am the captain or the lord of my sea of suffering. Everyone suffers, but there are ways to turn the poison of suffering into the medicine of happiness.

After I was set on Merrick, I went through a process of prayer, chanting, and rituals; I wanted to see if I had permission from my ancestors to go through this process. I’m named after my father’s two sisters, one of whom has passed on, so I did not want to offend her. I also asked all the male ancestors of good character in my family to usher me through this process. While I was going through spiritual discernment, I had dreams confirming that I had the green light—that I am in alignment with those energies. And I’m amazed that being in alignment with them has created a pathway for me that I could
never have created out of my own ego.

Part of my process has been to become authentic, to shed that ego. I think that’s a struggle for a lot of people, regardless of their label. I grew up in the generation of “Keep it real”, but often times “Keep it real” means to put on a real front. So when people decide to walk in their authentic selves—while there are ramifications—there are definitely benefits.

Another part of my process has been to unlearn the things that no longer work for me; to discard the untruths that I thought were true, about myself and about others. You can’t wear the same shoes you wore when you were three. Ideas are often like that.

Merrick fits, but I continue to grow into it. As my manhood emerges, I become Merrick.