Smart phones are a big trend. In an era when thirty million people are using smart phones, even sunims living in the remote countryside have fair-to-middling smart phones, through which they communicate with believers, Buddhists, and society. Keeping up with this stream of the times, the development of applications (apps) for a smart phone is at a high point with provincial temples at the center of this movement. Why have temples developed apps? Let’s keep an eye out for the smart world of Buddhism, which is constantly evolving.
The number of smart phone apps or mobile apps, which were developed and released by temples and Buddhist organizations, are ten, according to an estimate only in this year. The Jogye Order started a mobile web service this past August, and Bongnyeong-sa Temple in Suweon released the “Smart Bongnyeong” app, which contains versions of many materials for studying Buddhism in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese.
Jeungsim-sa Temple in Gwangju, far away from Seoul, also opened a homepage for a smart phone. Haein-sa Temple, also known as Haein Comprehensive Temple, is producing the Monthly Haein, which contains information relevant to the propagation of Buddhism, in the form of an appbook for a tablet PC. Also Pung’gyeongsori, which is conducting cultural activities in subway and railroad stations, and other locations, is engaged in cyber-propagation with the help of apps and appbooks.
Continuous Release of
Many Kinds of Apps and
a New Communication
in the World through these Apps
It is notable that organizations and individuals who are touched by the Buddha’s teaching have developed apps such as “The Three Scriptures of the Lotus Tradition (法華三部經) in Korean” and “The House of Sharing” (The house for Japanese military ‘comfort women’ grandmothers). In addition, “Buddha Talk,” the community service for Buddhists made through benchmarking “Kakao Talk,” a free text message service, also catches our eye.
We have the feeling that the development of apps in Buddhist communities is late in comparison with other religions. Nevertheless, venturing into the development of smart phone apps at the level of a temple or an individual shows the increasing importance of cyber-propagation. Considering the situation in which two-thirds of the total population of Korea have smart phones, Buddhist communities felt in their bones that the traditional way of propagation is difficult to meet the need of a new era. This point was clearly revealed in a statement made by sunim Jiyeon, the abbot of Bongnyeong-sa Temple, “We hope that many people all over the world will be able to utilize the contents of Bongnyeong-sa Temple—which is the cultural center for Bhikkuni (Buddhist nuns)—as learning materials.”
Cyberspace has been compared to an Indra’s Net of Buddhism. Indra's Net reflects the world-view of the Flower Adornment Sutra; it is the world where the law of dependent arising, according to which “As I exist you exist, and if you don’t exist I don’t exist either,” is embodied. It shows a relationship among all beings in the universe, including human beings and nature, which is interpenetrated like a net.
Indra’s Net means mutual communication. As the apps for a smart phone have this virtue, it is expected that they will play the role of making the relationship between a temple and believers, between sunims and Buddhists, closer and more intimate. But one problem is the development cost of apps, which run from millions of won to some tens of millions of won, and additional problems include continuity, maintenance and the management of those apps; addressing these problems are the homework that needs to be done. Together with this homework, people are loudly expressing their demand that the Buddhist communities should develop content that is actually needed in society, beyond the level of introducing a temple.
[불교신문 2860호/ 10월31일자]