Every Friday evening in the online meeting held by Alice Marsh for English-speaking Shinran followers, you will find Tony D’Andrea in attendance. Tony, who is from Pennsilvania, but who now lives in Texas has been attending the online Buddhist meeting for over one year. In August he decided to become a Shinran follower.
Tony’s story about how he came to meet the true Buddhism is as unique as anyone’s.
Tony says he has been interested in learning about Buddhism for more than ten years, but coming from a Christian family, he had a vague fear about delving into another religion. On top of this, he didn’t know who to turn to for guidance in his interest in Buddhism. Buddhism attracted Tony because it seemed more natural, positive and encouraging. He was also attracted to it by phrases of Buddha that he had read.
One day he did a search on the internet for Buddhism. Up came the name of Hiroki Shima in Los Angeles. Tony sent Hiroki a message, and was soon introduced by Hiroki to Bita Asakura, in A New Follower in Texas 10 Years Searching for Buddhism Toyama, Japan. Bita started talking with Tony online and listened to his stories and recommended him to join the Friday evening online meeting. At the beginning he didn’t know the differences between the various kinds of Buddhism, and he just wanted to learn more about them. But gradually over time, his mind changed.
“It started out small. A very small interest is turning out to be a huge interest. It answers many questions,” he said.
One of the questions he wanted to know more about was ‘what is the meaning of life?’ He said that he wanted to find a better answer than he had already gotten to this question. After a year of listening, he feels he is on the right track, and has no more doubts, he said.
His main reason for wanting to become a follower was to be able to participate in the web conference. He wants to hear directly from Takamori Sensei, he said. At the time of this interview he has already attended three web conferences. Although he found the first conference to be difficult, he had an open mind to what was being said.
One of the web conferences he attended was on The Law of Cause and Effect. He was very impressed by it and how detailed the lecture was about this Law. Before meeting Buddhism he did not know about the Law of Cause and Effect.
“Everything that happens has a cause, no matter what. Nothing is brought about with no reason. The more we talked about the Law of Cause & Effect, I began to get more curious,” he said. Tony also has an interest in Japan, for most of his life, he says. “I love the people, and their politeness.” Although he has never visited Japan, he thinks the country is beautiful. He has learned a few phrases of Japanese from a book.
He has been impressed by the people he has met so far on the online meetings and the web conferences and he wants to come to Japan soon.
“The meeting has been great,” he said, “I learn a lot and like that we are free to ask questions. It’s a great way for people who want to start listening to Buddhism.”
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #08 | 2011, 10 Years Searching for Buddhism - A New Follower in Texas
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Buddhist Village Times #08