The Korean version of You Were Born For a Reason was published in January of this year. Ms. Tomomi Tanaka, who lives in Neyagawa City, Osaka Prefecture, invited her local friends to a lecture that was held in celebration of the publication of the book in Korea.
Fluent in Korean and highly motivated, she decided to stay in Korea for one week out of a desire to help spread Master Shinran’s teachings there. Since she was a child, Tomomi had wondered why it is that we live. However, she did not have a clear answer, so she pushed her concern to the back of her mind and kept telling herself that she should just do what she liked in life.
After graduating from university, she got a job in cosmetics sales. She enjoyed helping both herself and her customers look prettier, so her sales performance went up. After a year, she was selected to join staff members who were in charge of setting up the beauty department of a new store. However, due to ill health, she had to leave work and undergo medical treatment for a long time.
In the meantime she became hooked on Korean dramas, which her friends had recommended to her. Korea is known for its increasingly popular cosmetics. Tomomi started thinking about studying abroad in Korea someday. One year later, she went to a women’s university in Seoul to study there for six months.
The Korean people were very friendly, which she particularly appreciated while she was away from home and on her own, but she also felt their suffering and struggles, which she hadn’t known about until she came to Korea. Korea is very academically-oriented and career-based, so everyone studies very hard and aims at social success.
Koreans also care about how they look more than people in other countries, and it is very common for people of all ages to have cosmetic surgery on both their face and body. Due to this fiercely competitive culture, if people don’t get what they want they tend to think it is not worth living, so the suicide rate has become very high.
Tomomi found that the question of why we have to live, which she had wondered about since childhood, came back to her. After returning to Japan, she started to attend Buddhist lectures at a friend’s house. She would end up roaring with laughter each time. Although the lectures were fun and made people laugh, they also made people think about why we must not commit suicide.
Tomomi learned that the answer to this question can be found in Master Shinran’s teachings. Wanting to learn more, she decided to become a Shinran Follower in February 2015.
Tomomi Tanaka, Osaka
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #64, Repaying My Debt of Gratitude in Korea with You Were Born For a Reason
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