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Thread: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

  1. #1

    Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Click here for Ethan Nichtern's talk from the Buddhist Geeks conference on "The Internet Is Not Your Teacher." An excerpt:

    I think there are two aspects that are important here. The first is the cheapening of knowledge and wisdom. Where in the ancient world to even learn how to follow your breath was quite a journey over mountains or requesting teachings for a long period of time. And because it was quite a journey, you took the instructions that you received as important. And thatís not so from a respect standpoint of course itíd be great if we were all respectful of teachers, etc. But the main thing is how the process of learning happens and when you think what youíre receiving is important you tend to take more time to absorb and integrate it into your experience which is the whole point of how these teachings work. This isnít ultimately a philosophy. As my teacher has been talking about recently the point of this is reworking how a human being experiences themselves not how they talk about themselves. ...

    [The second:] Our entire society, in the words of Generation X, has become very DIY. Do-it-yourself. The interesting thing about this term is that it started as an anti-consumerist phrase but it actually means you get to consume in the way you want. So there seems to be a strand of dharma, a huge strand of dharma, where we all want to become spiritual libertarians. We want to do the teachings in the way we do them. My teacher a lot of times says if youíre going to ask a teacher for advice you should actually do what they say. Chances are theyíre going to tell you to do something you didnít want to do in some small way. Thatís what doing something good for you is, right? You have to do something thatís outside of the framework of your habitual apparatus, which means it doesnít feel immediately good.

    So I always think of this conundrum of our DIY consumerist culture, especially in the United States of America which is possibly the most libertarian society on Earth today in terms of freedom is that we all really proclaim our individual freedoms. And the way we express this freedom is by doing whatever everyone else is doing. So we donít really want to submit ourselves to a community, which is the sangha, or a teacher, which is the Buddha principle, thatís beyond our ability to control what feels good in the present moment. ...

    In my tradition what we are increasingly saying is the purpose is to create a society that is awake, that encourages people to be awake. I donít think anybody would say that itís about attaining a certain state of meditative absorption or jhana or Samadhi, although those are fun and those can be a tool or a method to awakening. But I think a lot of people think it is about that. Yeah, I know itís not really about meditation but if I actually could do that thatís what itís about. The word enlightenment is really tricky. I find that people usually just define enlightenment as whatever Iím not experiencing now, and good luck trying to attain something that you have linguistically and psychologically defined for yourself as whatever Iím not experiencing now. I would like to propose that from my point of view Buddhism is about neither of those things. Itís not about enlightenment. I like to translate the term bodhi, awake, enlightened, as just sane. The whole purpose of all of these practices is to become a more sane and decent human being. And try to do whatever we can in a world thatís pretty quickly going away from sanity to spread sanity, to model behaviors to other people and communities to other people where they can feel sanity as well.

    If you want to become a sane and decent human being, this is my only point, thatís something you only learn from other human beings.
    More at the link. Powerful stuff, Treeleafers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    He really thinks he discovered those ideas? They're not new; they've been around for a long time, and the internet only makes them more obvious. Chogyam Trungpa addressed similar issues in his early book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.

    To be honest, I don't think anyone considers the internet to be a "teacher." It's a library, and the best one ever, but it's certainly not something that teaches.

    And, sorry to be picky, but:

    "possibly the most libertarian society on Earth today"

    That is not what "libertarian" means. He probably meant to say "individualist."

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    He really thinks he discovered those ideas?
    I don't think I understand what you mean here. Can you show me the quotation where he makes this claim?

  4. #4

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    ďSo letís talk about the samsaric side (of the internet) as it relates to people wanting to study and practice genuine teachings of awakening. I think there are two aspects that are important here. The first is the cheapening of knowledge and wisdom. Where in the ancient world to even learn how to follow your breath was quite a journey over mountains or requesting teachings for a long period of time. And because it was quite a journey, you took the instructions that you received as important.ď
    From Ethern Nichtern's talk with my italic parenthetical and underline added.

    I donít think that knowledge has been cheapened in todayís environment.

    Itís been made less expensive to obtain. However, itís effect, or value, is greater than ever, because it can be shared more easily and then used by others as a foundation to advance further knowledge. The explosion in knowledge that has been made possible since the beginnings of writing, to the printing press, to computer and internet technology has been amazing to me. We need more technology to be able to keep up!

    I appreciate members of the sangha sharing readings and talks like this that they have found valuable. I think the sangha is one of the ones to keep up, with the opinions and recommendations. There are several such postings that I have explored further outside of the post. Gassho, Grace.

  5. #5

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Thanks, chugai and kirkmc, for your responses. I have to say I'm a bit confused by them. I haven't read everything written on internet Buddhism, nor am I familiar with the entire Warner oeuvre, so I don't quite know why you both have chosen to post and dismiss the article rather than engage with the points it raises.

    I guess I should clarify why I posted myself! I assumed that an article -- a thoughtful, productive article, imo -- on the intersection on information in the 21st century and its relationship to the 2500-year-old practices to which we are all committed would be a worthy topic of conversation. Here on, you know, the online Treeleaf sangha, which seeks to use 21st century technology to support Zen practice. I'm new, so if I have overstepped some boundary, I'd be grateful to know what it is.

    Thanks also, Grace, for your response. I've emphasized a couple of points to which I want to respond:

    Itís been made less expensive to obtain. However, itís effect, or value, is greater than ever, because it can be shared more easily and then used by others as a foundation to advance further knowledge. The explosion in knowledge that has been made possible since the beginnings of writing, to the printing press, to computer and internet technology has been amazing to me. We need more technology to be able to keep up!

    I appreciate members of the sangha sharing readings and talks like this that they have found valuable. I think the sangha is one of the ones to keep up, with the opinions and recommendations. There are several such postings that I have explored further outside of the post. Gassho, Grace.
    I think that Nichtern's got a point about the relationship between "cost" (he might say "effort") and effect or value:

    Where in the ancient world to even learn how to follow your breath was quite a journey over mountains or requesting teachings for a long period of time. And because it was quite a journey, you took the instructions that you received as important. And thatís not so from a respect standpoint of course itíd be great if we were all respectful of teachers, etc. But the main thing is how the process of learning happens and when you think what youíre receiving is important you tend to take more time to absorb and integrate it into your experience which is the whole point of how these teachings work.
    Think of the entire corpus of koans, in which medieval monks traveled for weeks or months to get to a master and ask a question. John Daido Loori emphasizes this effort in a (great) essay in the Book of Mu that I'm reading. In particular, Loori demands that we recognize that the two Mu monks had real, life-and-death questions about Buddha nature and sentient beings for Chao-chou.

    I don't want to mystify the efforts of the ancients, nor do I think that there's a simple correlation between effort and worth -- whatever those two possibly mean in Zen. But I do think that Zen as readily available information is not the same as Zen as thorough, abiding practice, and I say that fully believing that Jundo, Taigu, and the Treeleaf sangha have a thorough, abiding commitment to that practice. Once glance at the ango thread indicates that.

    Perhaps that's a tired argument that Treeleafers have heard again and again. It was useful and provocative to me, connecting to my own commitment to practice.

    As for your second point in bold above, Grace: gassho.

  6. #6

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Hi,

    Having not had the chance to listen to Ethan's talk yet, I will just say this.

    The internet is but a tool, like a hammer. All depends what one does with it. One can do something constructive or destructive. One can make something cheap and shoddy, or do fine work like a craftsman.

    It depends on the attitude, skill, experience, sincerity and diligence that one brings into its use. That is all.

    Same with "Sangha" and the like ... so much dependent on the attitude of the members, and what we each bring into the community.

    Oh, and ... don't always think the 'good old days' were so golden, even with our image of 'Golden Buddhas'. They had their own 'issues' in the Sangha. 8)

    I will try to listen to the full presentation this week.

    Gassho, J

  7. #7

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It depends on the attitude, skill, experience, sincerity and diligence that one brings into its use.
    I think that is precisely one of the author's points.

    Oh, and ... don't always think the 'good old days' were so golden, even with our image of 'Golden Buddhas'. They had their own 'issues' in the Sangha. 8)
    You mean

    Fleas, lice,
    The horse pissing
    Near my pillow

    isn't just Basho being all poetic?

  8. #8

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Oh, and ... don't always think the 'good old days' were so golden, even with our image of 'Golden Buddhas'. They had their own 'issues' in the Sangha. 8)
    You mean

    Fleas, lice,
    The horse pissing
    Near my pillow

    isn't just Basho being all poetic?
    Hi Chris,

    I mean more that there were folks in the old days who took monasteries as just a place to live and have a warm meal, better than working in the fields. There were folks who took Buddhism cheaply then just as now (both those who wore lay clothes and priestly robes). There were lay folks who would just drop in once in awhile for a quick sermon or ceremony as "something to do" on their day off from work. Heck, the whole Vinaya was written because Buddha's boys were a herd of cats. There were those who cared about it just as a way of "navel gazing" and "stress reduction", or to bring some luck in the family business fortunes ... then just as now.

    People have been people all through time. It is only over time that we tend to scrub up the past.

    Let's make it something wonderful now.

    Gassho, J

  9. #9

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    People have been people all through time. It is only over time that we tend to scrub up the past.
    Indeed -- and gotcha. Gassho.

  10. #10

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Oh, and ... don't always think the 'good old days' were so golden, even with our image of 'Golden Buddhas'. They had their own 'issues' in the Sangha.
    I admit, I definitely got an "Old-timer reminiscing" kind of vibe from the beginning of Nichtern's talk, at least from reading the transcript. "Why, back in my day, we had to zazen-shuffle uphill both ways just to find a teacher... back then, the Dharma actually meant something..."

    I agree with Grace - a beautiful jewel doesn't become any less so simply because more people look at it. Even if many of those don't appreciate it as much as others might want them to. If anything (in my humble and likely misguided opinion), the Internet, and the DIY mentality, is a fantastic boon rather than a hindrance or a devaluation of the teaching. Many from the younger generation, myself included, only stumbled across these teachings because of the internet. It's not a "teacher" in and of itself, and sifting through it all would be impossible and probably counterproductive. But it's a great place to start - I mean, eventually I stumbled across a youtube video of some "Jundo" character, so it can't be all bad.

    That said, I want to point out that I'm not attacking the guy! There's a lot of wisdom in what he's saying, and I rather admire the Shambhala tradition for taking a very community-based approach. Still, some of his points can be counter-argued using themselves. The fact that "we donít really want to submit ourselves to a community, which is the sangha, or a teacher, which is the Buddha principle, thatís beyond our ability to control what feels good in the present moment" is a bit of a loaded statement IMHO. It implies that we absolutely must "submit" in order to make any progress away from instant gratification - and I think people deserve a little more credit than that. Besides, I'm sure we can all think of an example when unquestioning "submitting" to a commune or idea has brought people a lot of grief.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Nichtern
    The whole purpose of all of these practices is to become a more sane and decent human being
    Now this? Fantastic.

    He's right, of course - the internet can be an impersonal place. But we're making it more and more personal. Like anything else, it's what you make of it and how you use it. Just a vehicle, to be used for whichever means we choose.

  11. #11
    disastermouse
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    The Dharma doesn't become any more or less beautiful in accordance to how it's transmitted, IMHO. Treating the Dharma as though it's a commodity, the cache of which diminishes according to how easily it is obtained, seems likewise to be diminishing or misunderstanding the Dharma. The dharma that's taught is just inspiration or correction - it's the bowl that holds the water, and that's important, but you can't drink the bowl. The Dharma is something you do/are, and the container doesn't offend it.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    This is a great discussion! Thanks, everybody. (I haven't had time to listen to the talk yet, will do this weekend.)

    Jen

  13. #13

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Sorry Chris, I was impatient in my response -- I didn't listen to the talk and only read the excerpt -- the excerpt reads like other articles I have read by both Mr. Nichtern and Mr. Warner ... both have been postulating this position for years ... I will respectfully bow out now.
    No worries at all, chugai. I'm a very long time veteran of internet discussion forums and know the difference between a post and a person. No need to apologize and I appreciate your response here.

  14. #14

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Travelling thousands of miles, over mountains, rivers, forests to hear the great masters, then...
    Sit facing a wall.

    Logging on, listening to podcasts, reading RSS feeds, Skyping Jundo, then...
    Sit facing a wall.

  15. #15

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    I think the internet has only helped. Now I have only read the excerpt, but like anything it is all in how you apply it. One of the reasons I love the Dharma is that it is timeless, it applies today and it did then. I imagine 200 years from now the Dharma will be transmitted in some weird way that we cannot imagine, the people 200 years behind us would think this forum is weird. It does not dilute the message. IMHO....

  16. #16
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    quote from Ethan Nichtern:
    No such thing as Internet Dharma
    I disagree with this statement most. I think such a statement underestimates the Dharma

    Everything else he says is either validated or not by the commitment of the individual who is practicing.

    Gassho,
    John

  17. #17

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    The internet is but a tool, like a hammer. All depends what one does with it. One can do something constructive or destructive. One can make something cheap and shoddy, or do fine work like a craftsman.
    I will throw my oppinion behind Jundo here. However, I will say that knowledge givin is less appreciated than knowledge earned, though that usually has to do with more concrete matters. I can't imagine that learning the dharma through the interweb would be learning the dharma through a teacher. That being said, learning the dharma from a teacher is using a hammer after being schooled in its use by a master carpenter, and learning the dharma from the internet (and by this I mean without the guidance of a teacher to help keep us away from self-indulgent pitfalls and delusions) is more like giving the hammer to a child. Asking each to build a chair, well....one might only trust one to sit in over the other.

  18. #18

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    I'd add to Christopher's post that -- in my opinion -- Treeleaf is all about learning from teachers and sangha, not some empty shell of information transfer called "the internet." (That's what Nichtern is criticizing when he mentions "the internet dharma," I think....)

    What you've all built here is very consistent is a model of learning from teachers and sangha; the internet just happens to be the tool. Compare that to the many other "click here for happiness" options out there and I think you get a sense of what Nichtern is about. I think.

  19. #19

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    I'd add to Christopher's post that -- in my opinion -- Treeleaf is all about learning from teachers and sangha, not some empty shell of information transfer called "the internet." (That's what Nichtern is criticizing when he mentions "the internet dharma," I think....)

    What you've all built here is very consistent is a model of learning from teachers and sangha; the internet just happens to be the tool. Compare that to the many other "click here for happiness" options out there and I think you get a sense of what Nichtern is about. I think.
    Not to seem like I'm vascilating between points here, but I will mildly disagree here with the above point. Treeleaf is all about learning the dharma, whatever the teachings source. I think that the teachers we have and the sangha we make up, help us to realize when and how we are being taught. As Aitken Roshi said,

    The Chinese thrush sings in my heart, and white clouds float across the blue sky of my mind. All things are my teacher.
    One can learn the dharma from a rake or a shovel, if one is learning from a place of Right Mindfulness. But it helps for a teacher to be available who will set you on the path to realizing that a rake or a shovel can teach us with their enduring and inherent faithfulness. Rakes rake, shovels shovel, and we learn and sit.

  20. #20
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    No such thing as internet dharma...

    I am surprised how shortsighted people can be these days, blaming the web or denying that it can carry the teachings all over the world. An American Zen teacher got in touch with Shohei on skype recently to tell him how valuable and really good Treeleaf was after observing the thing working for a year (Maybe Shohei you could let us know about this discussion you had?).

    Internet is what you make of it, a pretty good miror of post modern decaying societies: the three gods at work: power, money and sex. But it also the realm of the other sides of the three coins: creativity, generosity and love.

    More and more sanghas are using this tool, and many more will in the near future.
    Reality is not out there. Reality doesn't abide in front of you: a forest is not more real than woods on a screen. Reality is the way you look at things and dance with the world. It is your life.



    gassho


    Taigu


    PS: sorry for not being around the last few days, I have no time or so litlle because of this crazy work of mine. Should be better next week. I will post a vid on Monday.

  21. #21
    disastermouse
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    No such thing as internet dharma...

    I am surprised how shortsighted people can be these days, blaming the web or denying that it can carry the teachings all over the world. An American Zen teacher got in touch with Shohei on skype recently to tell him how valuable and really good Treeleaf was after observing the thing working for a year (Maybe Shohei you could let us know about this discussion you had?).

    Internet is what you make of it, a pretty good miror of post modern decaying societies: the three gods at work: power, money and sex. But it also the realm of the other sides of the three coins: creativity, generosity and love.

    More and more sanghas are using this tool, and many more will in the near future.
    Reality is not out there. Reality doesn't abide in front of you: a forest is not more real than woods on a screen. Reality is the way you look at things and dance with the world. It is your life.



    gassho


    Taigu


    PS: sorry for not being around the last few days, I have no time or so litlle because of this crazy work of mine. Should be better next week. I will post a vid on Monday.
    The short-sightedness can be frustrating, but oddly, I just feel compassionate towards the people who disagree at this point. This is probably normal behavior for most folks, but it's something different for it not to bother me.

    Gassho.

    Chet

  22. #22

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I am surprised how shortsighted people can be these days, blaming the web or denying that it can carry the teachings all over the world. An American Zen teacher got in touch with Shohei on skype recently to tell him how valuable and really good Treeleaf was after observing the thing working for a year (Maybe Shohei you could let us know about this discussion you had?)..
    This would be interesting to hear!

  23. #23

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Hiyas
    As Taigu had mentioned I was having a skype conversation with with Yuko Conniff (She runs Great Paitence Zen stitchery) a week or so a go.

    Skipping back over a year (like a year and 8 months!) She had agreed to sew Fugen and my own kimono and koromo. Through that meeting, initially via emails back and forth and phone conversations, she came to know the that our ordinations were going to be held online and that besides either running or attending a local sitting group, our Sangha we practiced with was online. She had indicated she was a bit skeptical of it all. We invited her to the try skype (which she said she would) and to check out the forums, video sit-alongs with Jundo and Taigu, the teachers blogs as well as just check out Treeleaf as a whole and the Sangha members and of course to please join us for the ordination ceremony.

    She watched (and said was moved by) our ordination ceremony and, while not "traditional" in some ways was pleased with the sincerity of the teachers, sangha and unsui. So from there on she had kept in touch here and there via email and a few months ago did manage to get skype (she confessed being a bit technologically behind the curve some there but did manage to get set up!).

    So now back to last week. She finally managed to catch me with skype on (and me near the computer with kids occupied by my mom!) and we had a really good talk about sewing (hehe surprise!), practice, and then Treeleaf etc.
    She said first that she was now sitting with a group via skype in Florida(!) and that she was amazed by the ease of the tech and by the connectedness, seeing eye to eye as(more lens to lens). and able to share this practice with over many miles and timezones (hehe sounds familiar!). Any who she did say in the end after our long convesation, that she was moved by the sincerity of the practice here, the teachers, the fact that we were keeping alive the kesa tradition and sharing it, and so on. I shared that we were currently practicing a 90 day ango as well as the up coming Jukai and the Study and sewing of the rakusu by those taking the precepts. She was also shocked that we had done the bulk of this sewing by web (blog/video/skype) and book only(and that those sewing a kesa had done so AND managed the corners of the En with out physical help ).

    So after a year she had not only a new perspective, was moved by it all, and was also utilizing the very same means in her own practice and to share practice with others

    All of this to say that all things were once new technology - language, written language, books... and as mentioned, it all boils down to the sincerity of the persons involved (and understanding the limitations of the media, medium and what is registered between our ears!).

    Gassho
    Shohei

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Wow, Shohei, that's an awesome story! I remember being a bit skeptical about Treeleaf at first myself (anybody else? anybody? ), but the more I dug in . . . and especially now, moving past my reservations about skype etc. and getting to know and see everybody, the greater it becomes.

    BTW--a couple months ago, I read some article about the latest Facebook problems or somesuch . . . in the comments, a woman went off about how Facebook isn't a good way to keep in touch with family and old friends because "that's what the telephone is for!" Yeah, um, 100 years ago the telephone pretty much WAS Facebook, and just as reviled and mistrusted by some.

    Time sorts out all things, I suppose.

    Gassho

    Jen

    EDIT--listened to the podcast . . . I will say one thing, he kinda got me with that "sitting down together and having dinner" bit. How wonderful it would be to have dinner with you all in "realspace" at a very long table.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Thank you Shohei for sharing, I've been anxious to hear about this!

    Shohei wrote:
    She said first that she was now sitting with a group via skype in Florida(!) and that she was amazed by the ease of the tech and by the connectedness, seeing eye to eye as(more lens to lens). and able to share this practice with over many miles and timezones (hehe sounds familiar!).
    Wonderful!! This was most touching

    Jennifer wrote:
    BTW--a couple months ago, I read some article about the latest Facebook problems or somesuch . . . in the comments, a woman went off about how Facebook isn't a good way to keep in touch with family and old friends because "that's what the telephone is for!" Yeah, um, 100 years ago the telephone pretty much WAS Facebook, and just as reviled and mistrusted by some.
    Great point!

    Gassho,
    John

  26. #26
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Thanks for bringing this up, Chris. I selectively listen to Buddhist geeks, but probably wouldn't have downloaded this one if it hadn't been for this thread. I listened to it yesterday (while sewing! :P ) and thought it was a good talk.

    What I see with people who flit in and out of our very small local sangha is that they use the internet to collect a dharma talk here and a podcast there but never settle down to a steady practice. They think all the wisdom is outside of themselves and to be received from this overwhelming offering of books and the internet. I may be judging in error, but I don't see these people digging to the ground of the teaching and apply it to their lives. It's more like "I'm so depressed today, maybe a dharma talk will make me feel good".

    Now this may be nothing new as Jundo pointed out, but I think the internet makes it particularly easy to non-commit and "build your own religion". Ethan said in his talk that a teacher met face to face will probably say something at some stage that you don't want to hear - and that's exactly where most people tune out. To use the dharma just as far as it makes people feel good and agrees with their opinions is just more selfishness getting them nowhere.

    I think that there needs to be a certain degree of "submission" to practice, Konstantin, otherwise we are just picking and choosing (that is, to practice, not to a "guru"). Within practice, teachers and sangha challenge us out of our comfort zone and that's where the ego cracks open.

  27. #27

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Thanks, Nindo. Your response was far more articulate than mine was. I think that you've captured some of what made the piece more than "internet-dharma bashing" for me.

    Indeed, it illuminated what was valuable and human about the practice of everyone here at Treeleaf for me. Well, at least, on most days....

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  28. #28

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    .

    [youtube] [/youtube]
    Ah, since it is now September, perhaps I should remind folks that that was our April Fool's tribute .. this year, a satirical look at the Genpo Roshi scandals. I am not actually having an affair with Taigu, and we will not have a new brand of Treeleaf ski and swimwear. ops:

    A few people have written me to ask if it is true.

    Gassho, J

  29. #29

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    I admit to disappointment in learning that -- alas! -- there will be no Big Organ spin-off.

  30. #30
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    A few people have written me to ask if it is true.

    Gassho, J
    :lol:

  31. #31

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Hi,

    I just had a chance to listen to Ethan's very insightful talk. Just a few comments and quick impressions ...

    1 - "Online" practice, such as at Treeleaf, may more easily fit certain Buddhist ways of practice than others. For example, I think it fits very well our emphasis on "Shikantaza" and "life is our temple/at home" practice more than, for example, a flavor of Buddhism emphasizing monastic practice and silent retreat removed from the world, Koan centered Zazen (not sure about that one), certain esoteric group rituals or the like.

    2 - Some so-called "Internet Buddhism" is probably insufficient if just a passive "arm chair" listening to a few podcasts or Youtube talks. That is not enough. So, here at Treeleaf, we try to create, as much as possible, the many elements of Sangha and actual practice. From our "mission statement" ...

    Treeleaf Zendo ... seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online.


    This also means a "hands on" practice (and "butt on" Zafu practice). One must actually "just do it".

    There are some elements that are hard to recreate, like actually going out for a meal with folks. But, hey, I think we are trying to head in that direction too ...

    PPE 2- Share an meal

    Share a meal together, recite the Meal Gatha together, eat in silence for 5 minutes.
    After that, talk is encouraged on the general subject of "gratitude", as is the theme of the Gatha, for the food and other aspects of life.

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4209
    3 - So much depends, however, on the attitudes, dedication, sincerity and energy of the participants ... whether in a "no space space" like Treeleaf, a "bricks & mortar" Sangha meeting under a roof, or in a monastery in far off China. You "non-get" what you put into it ... like a marriage, like a career or calling, like any effort (or "non-effort effort").

    Just some quick impressions.

    Gassho, J

  32. #32
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo

    What I see with people who flit in and out of our very small local sangha is that they use the internet to collect a dharma talk here and a podcast there but never settle down to a steady practice. They think all the wisdom is outside of themselves and to be received from this overwhelming offering of books and the internet. I may be judging in error, but I don't see these people digging to the ground of the teaching and apply it to their lives. It's more like "I'm so depressed today, maybe a dharma talk will make me feel good".
    Do they have to "dig to the ground?" Should the dharma be a 100% commitment for everyone? Isn't it better for them to find out anything about the dharma than nothing at all?

    Dharma centers can be off-putting, no matter how much their members try to welcome new people. And many people have great difficulty crossing the threshold of a dharma center. I think the Internet is nothing more than a library - albeit a multimedia library - and that people use it to find information just as people do (or used to) use a library. No one would criticize people for going to a library and reading part of a book, rather than "digging to the ground" of a book and reading it from cover to cover.

  33. #33

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Big Organ(TM), head Schmonk! Precepts optional Fridays! Oh enough, playa - my nose hurts from all the milk I just squirted. Expect 10,000 hits on the next April fools vid. Off to go sit with that.....
    _()_ Louis

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    A few people have written me to ask if it is true.
    Oh what a web we weave when first we practice to deceive :shock: :lol: :lol:

  35. #35

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    A few people have written me to ask if it is true.
    Oh what a web we weave when first we practice to deceive :shock: :lol: :lol:
    Seems I heard a Precept or two about that.

  36. #36

    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    A few people have written me to ask if it is true.
    Oh what a web we weave when first we practice to deceive :shock: :lol: :lol:
    Seems I heard a Precept or two about that.
    Of course, we have to remember the Buddha's famous OmanIgotcha Suttra, which he began with, "Hey Shariputra, if everything is empty, what's this on your robe?"

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhist Geeks 230: The Internet Is Not Your Teacher

    Sha Ri Shi, Shiki Fu I Ku; :shock: Nan daiyo ?
    :lol: :lol: :roll:

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