Written by Rev. Shinkai Murakami
Namu Amida Butsu
Recently I faced several problems with my electronics and social media account. These issues helped me realizing that modern technologies are complicated, even though necessary and, therefore, require constant and repetitive learning to evolve with the rapid changes. I also realized that I change throughout time and therefore receive the same lessons differently over time. For example, the first social media issue I personally encountered was when someone used my Facebook picture for their own account and messaged a handful of my friends. My Facebook friends messaged me back to tell me someone was impersonating me and messaged them. I called several computer tech people and received advice on what to do; within a few days, Facebook resolved the issue. Then, at the beginning of December, I started to notice that my past e-mails were missing. Only a few new emails that I received that day were in my inbox. For a moment I thought, “Oh no, did someone hack my e-mail again?!”, since a similar incident occurred when I had my previous e-mail account. The person who hacks my account sent an e-mail to all my contacts that read “Dear Friend, I am having a problem! I am in England right now and lost my wallet. I need money to return to Hawaii. May I please borrow some funds? You may send the money to the following account xxxxxxxx.” Then, I received several phone calls from my friends and telling me, “Rev. Murakami, someone is using your account and asking for money. Luckily, a friend I was speaking with the night before, immediately notified me about receiving the e-mail so I was able to immediately contacted Hotmail and closed the account. Unfortunately, that account was my only communicating system and so many important information items, such as confirmation numbers and billing confirmations were in that account. I had to contact many places to change my contact information. I was not familiar with their system and the system only allowed me to make a few changes. So, for some accounts, I had to close the account and create a new account from different provider. Although creating a new account from a different provider was not difficult, I have to change my password and retype all my friends’ contact information. Then, because I changed my password several times, I forgot what I set my password to in the end. These experiences taught me a lot about security and the frustrations people have to go through to reclaim their identities and communications system.
Today’s technological advances are great for many of us, as long as we are able to understand the system we are using. We can enjoy today’s modern technology in our precious life. However, the new systems are becoming much complicated, so we all must understand the changes, be aware of new updates. This is why it is important to learn about the changes and often revisit the lessons.
Another example is when I purchased a new TV because my 5 years old just stopped working. Even if it was only 5 years old, I felt kind of sad, but I had to accept that everything is changing, and nothing can stay forever. So, we purchased a new TV. Before I purchased a TV though, I received a suggestion from someone that I should get an extra speaker with it! This person knew that I love to watch movies so he kindly made the recommendation that I should have an extra speaker for the TV. He said, “It will be a great whenever you watch movies, you will feel like you are in the movie theaters. You will really enjoy watching movies!” With his kind recommendation, I purchased the extra speaker for the TV. Yes, it is super nice and whenever I watch the movies the sound is so great! I definitely feel like I am in the movie theater!
However, each component has their own remote and I have to use those remotes (at least two remotes – one is cable and other one is TV) every single time I watch TV. I have to learn how to operate the new systems, too. Until I understand how to operate remotes or TV, I have to spend to use them.
When I think about our lives, even if we listened and learned many things, many times we forget those lessons. Shinran Shonin used the word “Bonbu – foolish beings.” Yes, even if we feel like we know everything, however, the fact is we are still limited in how much we know and how much can we do!
Jodo Shinshu emphasizes that we must listen to the Dharma over and over even if we remember the guidance. This is because our mind and condition are always changing; therefore, our acceptance and understanding of the teaching may be interpreted differently. The more we listen, the more we are able to be aware of the guidance.
What is the teaching of the Buddha? This is for us to become a Buddha and once we become a Buddha, we return to this present place and guide all sentient beings for them to become a Buddha, as well. This is call Gen-so and O-so Echo in Japanese.
I honestly believe that for us to understand the true Buddha’s teaching is our Lifetime work. That is the reason why we have to listen to the Buddha Dharma as “Lifetime Learning.”
The purpose of the Buddha’s teachings is to eradicate superstition and clear up people’s misunderstanding. Buddhism is a teaching that shows us how to live a happy, fulfilling and contented life.
In the larger Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life it is taught:
All sentient being, as they hear the Name, realize even one thought-moment of Shinjin and joy, which is directed to them from Amida’s sincere mind, and aspiring to be born in that land, they attain birth and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. “Hear” means to hear the Primal Vow and be free of doubt. Further, it indicates Shinjin. (p. 474, The Collected Works of Shinran.)
Namu Amida Butsu