Many people in Japan think that that unless their English is perfect, they cannot convey Buddhism. But that is far from truth.
When you talk about passages that you have committed to memory again and again, naturally you come to speak English! Rather than, “I can or cannot do it”, it is “will I do it or will I not do it?” Don’t you agree?
I went to the States in June of last year and every day was a succession of trial and error to see what worked for communication. It had been five years since I had the opportunity to speak English last. Even though I try to convey Buddhism in my native language to Japanese people, it is so difficult to do so, now imagine talking about Buddhism in English to Americans! It was entirely impossible at first.
Initially, I would go out all by myself and would talk in English to people on sidewalks until dark, but there was no one who listened to me. Even if they did, they would not continue. I found it physically and mentally exhausting.
I kept thinking, “What is the word usage that Americans find appealing?” I kept failing and reflecting on its cause, but my worries mounted up bit by bit. I came up with these three strategies:
1. To perfectly memorize short phrases from the book YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON
2. To memorize the manuscripts for the ten-minute lectures
3. To learn how to explain the Law of Cause and Effect, which is the foundation of Buddhism
I applied these three strategies thoroughly. I talked with people on sidewalks, on campuses, and when there was no one around, I preached on streets. After talking with 1000, 2000, and 3000 people unflinchingly, my reluctance to speak English went away and I became able to talk with confidence.
And then one person, two persons, and so on kept attending our lectures. English is something that if you try speaking it, any one can do it!
What is most important is to continue planting seeds.
By Hiroki Shima, USA
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #05 | 2011, Even though my English is not perfect, I can convey Buddhism!
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The Buddhist Village Times #05