Vajrayana in the Evolving Digital World
In the past, people came to teachings riding yaks and horses or walking on their own two feet. Then along came cars, buses, trains and airplanes. Then there were tapes and DVDs.
Now, it’s digital and online. "The call of the lama" is transmitting in cyber space.
As many people look to the internet for just about every aspect of their lives—medical, spiritual, financial, nutritional, etc. —cyber Dharma is exploding, creating new opportunities for teachings, practice and understanding. It's too soon to tell if this will accelerate our progress on the path. But while the jury is out, we must pay attention to, and care for, the evolution of vajrayana in cyber space.
It's not really about using cyber space for information, but can the requirements of Vajrayana be met in cyber space? How? What are the boundaries that should be honored?
Digital resources and lamas teaching in cyber space open us to new understandings and deeper understandings we might not have otherwise, especially when we take into consideration our geographical location, the proximity to, or lack of, Dharma centers and, of course, affordability.
However, as in the exploding world of constant online news, without the benefit of fact-checking, we can be led astray as accuracy—truth—is compromised.
Then, there’s the importance in vajrayana of generating a pure vision atmosphere for the teachings without physical support. What can presenters do to meet this requirement? How can participants conduct themselves in alignment with pure vision?
Moving on to the matter of empowerments and transmissions, etc.—various masters have expressed different points of view, favorable and unfavorable. What is the real question here? If genuine connection can happen through time, as evidenced by the practice of guru yoga, can it happen through video conferencing? Is cyber space best regarded as a support for in-person relationship?
There are also implications for sacred art as well. We've seen digital models of 3-D deities and mandalas for several years. Is this helpful or is it bypassing the mind training practice of visualizing?
What are your thoughts and experiences with Vajrayana Online?
Ellis Widner is a senior student of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche and Vice-President of Jnanasukha Foundation since its inception in 2002.Ellis is a student of Reiki Jin Kei Do master teacher Patricia Warren. He is a features editor at The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a daily newspaper.