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The uses of an internet sangha

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I was just reflecting on the pro’s and cons of internet Buddhism, which is Buddhism practiced through the internet, and it occurred to me that it might be worth exploring what an internet Sangha like this forum actually does for us.

In a way it is a discussion group, where you can bring up any kind of topic and take advantage of the wisdom of the group. It is also a study group, where we can study books or sutras together. But in what ways does it differ from a real-life Sangha? This is a question I’d put to you, what do you get out of a real-life Sangha that you don’t from an internet one?

Certainly one thing I have noticed is that you get only as much out of an internet Sangha as you put into it. If you don’t come forward with your questions you will get little input into your situation from the Sangha members.

Alex

Comments

  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran

    Well, two cents worth:
    this forum works with a qualified teacher as moderator, tho he rarely steps in. I am not he, and she also is very good.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    This is a question I’d put to you, what do you get out of a real-life Sangha that you don’t from an internet one?

    Visual cues .... If we take into account the amount of times words on the screen have been taken out of context, because the readers couldn't see facial expressions or body language....

    lobsterAlexKundo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Straight_Man said:
    Well, two cents worth:
    this forum works with a qualified teacher as moderator, tho he rarely steps in. I am not he, and she also is very good.

    That's a bit cryptic, even for me....

  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran

    Sanghas provide Dharma, and practice practice.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Right... Ok, yes, much clearer.... :eh:

    FoibleFullVastmindKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Thanks for the long piece about real life sangha’s @foiblefull, it’s much appreciated.

    @FoibleFull said:
    Words just cannot convey most of the Buddhist teachings, so if we don't understand something, we just need to keep on doing our practice.
    The trap with over-intellectualizing dharma, or talking about ourselves, is that it strengthens our attachment to ego, which is counter-productive to our spiritual development.

    That’s interesting. So do you think that an Internet forum, because it’s very nature is discussion, would fall into this trap of over-intellectualising dharma? I think NewBuddhist does a pretty good job of mixing things up, using humour, examples from everyday life, and so on. Perhaps the focus on practice could be stronger.

    So we take the teachings, we do the pujas, we listen to our teacher. And when we have questions, we go to the teachers.
    The answers are pretty standard: do your practice more, develop compassion more, don't try to intellectually figure things out but to instead rely on your mindfulness which you are developing through meditation.
    Oh, there are specific pieces of advice, depending on the situation you are seeking help with. But in the end, each of us is our own teacher.

    In a way that’s true on the internet as well, except that we don’t have a knowledgeable guide. One of the things I noticed when doing my course on Buddhism basics in the Tibetan temple in the next town was that a directed course of study gives you more in-context information, and the ability to ask questions, to see if you were understanding things correctly.

    The advantage of a teacher .. .a qualified teacher?
    They teach you in ways that go beyond words; the most obvious of which is the way they respond to situations and handle things, being a role-model and example of where YOU are heading. Others are subtler and harder to detect. Some may be nothing more than our own subconscious pre-conditioning/pre-expectations. Others just cannot be explained.

    It is important to know where you are going. One of the things that I learnt from reading Ajahn Brahm’s book on meditation, Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, is that learning the signs of the various stages of meditation can give you helpful guidance on how to prolong and move from one stage to the next. I’m sure that with role-models there are similar signs.

    Although of course not everybody wants to become a teacher...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    They teach you in ways that go beyond words; the most obvious of which is the way they respond to situations and handle things, being a role-model and example of where YOU are heading.

    Exactly so. <3
    Role-model and ideally directing you where you need to be, often despite you feeling and 'knowing' where you need to be.

    Pah! :p

    Most of us think our spiritual unfolding is because of our efforts. Sometimes we are not aware of our pseudo-seeker nature. In this sense becoming a real person with genuine integrity requires more than career teachers. It can as @FoibleFull mentions be subtle.

    AND we can learn from the hypocrites, pseudo gurus, lamentable lamer lamas and internet armchair philosophers ... B)

    and now back to internet sangria =)

  • AngusAngus New Vietnam New

    I think internet Buddhism has little value in developing spiritually . In fact maybe its a drawback as people read so much that they may start to think they know it all . Its why I rarely log in . Just occasionally for entertainment and relaxation time .
    If we want to develop our practice we should shut the internet off and sit on our cushions more .

    Kundolobster
  • bravehawkbravehawk Explorer Explorer

    Wrong view is just as bad as having no view of the dharma. I commend this site for providing a resource for new lay people and others to ask questions. You can sit on the cushion all you want but until your know the direction you want to take your mind , your practice and mindstream go nowhere.

    I didn’t know what Lamrim practice was until I found an internet group. I think it only fruitful if you have a open mind to learn and share. Know that you do not know everything and the things you do know will evolve. Be humble then when that does not work for you , be humble again.

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Hi @bravehawk ... Yes for an internet community to flourish it is all about the people, the sharing of knowledge and questions around the dharma comes naturally out of the group of individuals. It has often given me new points of reading, led me to become acquainted with the various Buddhist internet magazines, and it has rounded out my knowledge in a good way.

    So I’d say, be humble, but not so humble that you don’t ask questions. Unless you arrive at a silent period of course.

    Bunksadamcrossleybravehawk
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