What ARE we doing here? (sincere question)
The discussion in another thread got me thinking about our uses of this forum. I would love to know what others view this forum as. A place to vent? A community of folks who rarely actually see one another? A way to educate others about Zen? A way to . . . . .?
My purpose here is to talk a bit about subjects that I never have occasion to talk about in my everyday life. I teach at a small college in eastern Tennessee so there are few opportunities to talk about anything Buddhist, more or less Soto Zen. So, I come here to read other's ideas and contribute a few of my own. I really don't consider myself as having any experiences that make my opinion about practice any more valid than anyone else's. Nonetheless, I sometimes share them, my motivation is usually to be active in the virtual community more than to share any brilliant revelations. I don't like to talk about certain aspects of my practice on this forum because I feel it would be self-centered to do so and would be of no benefit (maybe even detrimental) to my zazen. Those are the kinds of things that I would envision asking Jundo or another teacher I consider qualified. We do a lot of 'mouth-flapping' around here. I consider that OK as long as we keep in mind that idle speech is a akin to arrogance. But, in our virtual community, the alternative is to sit here with no contact between any of us, waiting for some important Zen-stuff to arise for discussion. So, we are an experiment and there will be unforseen positives and negatives to the experiment. All of the idle posting (and one person's idle post is a real helpful bit of advice to another person) is not ideal, but without it there would be no sense of any Treeleaf community. There would simply be Jundo's postings and our interactions with him via email, etc.
The short of it is that I still really dig being here. There is a nice balance of membership and viewpoints in my opinion, and most of us seem to be concerned with the welfare of the Treeleaf experiment and the community members.
I will end my mouth-flapping.
Addendum--I do believe that to be a part of any community means that there are responsibilities. A responsibility-free community is a naive concept. If we are to be part of this, we each have to tolerate and accomodate others while simultaneously staying true to our practice and holding each other accountable for our inevitable screw-ups.