I’ve been so happy in my posts lately but Brad Warner just rubs me sometimes (not the pleasant, fuzzy way). For as insightful that he is in his writings it amazes me how much of the point he misses on the topic of iSanghas.
I know I’ve been harping on my antipathy towards so-called “cyber-sanghas” way too much. But that’s because what I do here is so often confused with that concept, in both overt and subtle ways. It’s also why I refuse to get involved with any cyber-sanghas. The experience is not at all the same as dealing with real human beings face to face. No more so than cyber-sex is the same as real sex.
You can get very lost in the twisty twirly world of Internet communication and easily lose sight of what’s real and what’s not. These days I often hear people say,”I was talking with my friend…” And I’ll ask, “Were you actually talking with that person or were you chatting online?” Often it’s the latter. There is an enormous difference between these two activities. Yet many people these days seem to regard them as being essentially the same thing.
What Brad does on his blog is far from teaching or engagment or even helpful. Good writer, bad teacher. Well, far from wanting to rant and rave. I feel it coming on and I want to…but I’ll forget it and and take the opportunity to say “Thank you”.
- Thank you to the teachers, roshis, monastics and laypersons that were willing to converse and help me in my practice online for the year I was searching for a sangha out here in the middle of nowhere.
- Thank you for those that were willing to engage with me even though we can’t determine each other’s tone and facial features.
- Thanks for the emails, open comments, blog posts, open online translations of sutras, videos webinars and telephone conversations.
- Thanks for the podcasts and the virtual retreats.
- Thank you for those that took the time to support the practice of those that can’t, won’t or are unable to attend a “real” sangha.
Teachers are appreciated for the time and commitment they put towards the development of others, despite the particular medium. Thanks for reaching out. I was lucky enough to find a sangha to practice with but I still find a huge amount of support and encouragement, as well as interaction and engagement from my iSangha.
For me the iSangha is like the night school of Zen. When I was in college I would giggle at online degree schools or night school. With the thought that they were inferior or their students dumb. Now with two jobs and a family, I realize what their purpose was and how helpful they are to people with many constraints. The same concept applies to Zen and Buddhist practice.
Have fun with your speaking tour, Brad.