Life in cyclic existence keeps throwing me curve balls. I am the victim of identity theft. A fraudulent tax return was recently filed with my name and Social Security number. In addition, somebody started applying for credit cards using my name. On one particular day five separate applications were submitted. I found out about this through a credit monitoring service. Fortunately, I have been able to resolve all of these issues without any serious consequences. It has been quite a hassle, though.
Am I angry at the person or persons committing this crime? No. Just concerned. I have been able to use the Dharma in a very practical way to maintain my composure and equanimity. The Dharma really helps if you use it!
I realize that we are all living in samsara. So things like this are bound to happen. Everyone is operating from the three poisons of ignorance, anger and attachment. I have obviously created some negative karma in a previous life that is now ripening to bite me in the butt. The perpetrator is also creating a tremendous amount of nonvirtuous action which will eventually ripen and cause him further suffering. Since I do not want a lower rebirth I will not allow anger to overwhelm me. Instead, I will have only love and compassion for this unknown “enemy.” I am very tired of cyclic existence and wish to eventually be liberated for myself as well as everyone else.
Having one’s identity stolen is an excellent opportunity to think about emptiness. What exactly am I losing? Who is this Ken that someone is pretending to be? There is my conventional self which has some money and possessions. There is my good name, reputation and, of course, my credit score. All of these things are impermanent and will be lost at the time of death anyway. Having a basic understanding of emptiness really helps to reduce my clinging attachment to the things of this life. It has also helped me to remain calm and focused.
Most of all I know that what really matters are my good qualities, merit and Buddha nature. All of which cannot be stolen. And I can take comfort in knowing that in the Pure Land there is no Internal Revenue Service and everyone will have a credit score of 850 🙂
Ken Mondal is a retired Ophthalmologist who lives in Spokane, Washington. He received his education at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and residency training at University of California-San Francisco. He practiced in Ohio, Washington and Hawaii. Ken met the Dharma in 2011 and attends teachings and retreats on a regular basis at Sravasti Abbey. He also loves to do volunteer work in the Abbey's beautiful forest.