The Internet has transformed sanghas. Buddhists who have been geographically isolated with little access to teachers and senior practitioners for guidance now have teachers and entire communities at their fingertips. Information and opinions about dharma centers, teachers, and sanghas are also readily available to practitioners worldwide, effectively leveling the dharma field and deflating notions of specialness.
But does all that accessibility build dharma community and lead to insight? As someone who teaches dharma online, I’ve taken a particular interest in this question.
Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training, my online project, like other online communities, offers Zen practice and the opportunity to work with a teacher without leaving home. This is especially meaningful for those with no zendo nearby or with mobility issues.
Excerpted from the Spring 2014 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, available on newsstands and by subscription.