Everything But Nirvana: The Authentic Leadership Journey of a Japanese Buddhist, Shoukei MATSUMOTO

An online Buddhist temple in Japan

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My temple, Komyoji, belongs to a group of Jodo-Shinshu Hongwanji-ha. Hongwanji in Kyoto is the head temple of the group. The founder's name is Shinran. This year, Shinran's 750 year memorial service is going on. Many people visit Hongwanji and enjoy special ceremony. If you have a chance to visit Kyoto this year, you must stop by and enjoy it!


By the way, I've got some questions from a student in Ireland studying Japanese Buddhism. I guess this conversation about online Buddhist temple (KNOM) will help somebody who study the same subject.


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Q. I found your idea of online-temple fascinating and I would like to know something more about it. My main interest is the question of if you you can help individual Buddhists with their everyday-life problems via your online services. If I understood that right, could you describe me, how does this online-help work?


A. Our aim of taking advantage of Web media is to open a new channel for people to access to Buddhism through Internet. In terms of solving people's problems in their daily life, Twitter is useful. Our website is strongly connected to SNS services such as Twitter, Facebook and so on. For example, if you tweet a question with "Somosan" which symbolize Q&A conversation between monks in Japanese, some of our Buddhist priests will give you some response. But in our view in using Internet, we can connect people who are interested in Buddhism to Buddhist priests. Once they are connected, people can go to temples and meet Buddhist priests directly. So our online-temple serves connector between people and priests rather than solution server.


Q. As far as I understood, you think that in order to?practice Buddhism, one still need a real connection to the temple?and pure online-religion is not enough to keep on one's faith, am I right? Is there any possibility to actually practice religion online? Then, what kind of things is it possible to pray for in you temple, do you aim at enlightenment or change of mind or is it possible to pray for everyday-life issues like for one's family or one's health?


A. If you read books or web-articles about Buddhism, you can practice Buddhism as you wish. That's one way to practice Buddhism. Practice can be done all in your mind. If you find a good teacher and meet him/her face to face, you will have a roll model who practice Buddhism in his life and develop spirituality. This meeting will motivate you and give you confidence. In Buddhism, as you may know, Sangha is very important. It is a friend group of practicing Buddhism. If you get good friends who support you, you will walk the path of Buddhism in a right way. Enlightenment is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. But the way to the goal is equally important. It's better to walk the path even if you won't get to the goal than not to walk.

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Shoukei MATSUMOTO
>>Profile Born in 1979 in Hokkaido, after the graduation from The University of Tokyo, Keisuke Matsumoto has worked in Komyoji Temple Tokyo for 7 years. As a head of Young Buddhist Association of Komyoji Temple, he launched new initiatives like Temple Cafe Project and Twilight Music Festival. After studying MBA in India, he is teaching "Temple Management" in Japan.