- A LESSON ON CYBER-BUDDHISM
- Pst. Gerald Chen Hsiongcai
- © 2001 Panna Youth Centre, Singapore
It seems like it won't stop. First there was the computer. Then E-mail.
Then the internet. Then E-commerce. So what's next? E-vangelisation? Well, yes ! Of
course. If we take it seriously the injunction to make the most of each and every
opportunity and chance to spread the Buddha-Dhamma,we can't ignore the internet as a mean
to share the Dharma will the unreached people and from this issue tightly associated with
us modern Buddhists in our homes, offices, schools or anywhere, with just an computer with
internet connection, you will help Buddhism a lot in it's propagation ! Perhaps, we should
consider four common possibilities.
Today we can simply correspond with anyone, anywhere, any time and this
immediacy gives e-mail a personal touch. It is more or less like long drawn-out telephone
conversations. On the internet, there are all sorts of discussions forums being carried on
by e-mail, and Buddhists have been able to make it fruitful contributions to many of them.
Online discussions groups allow people to have a "live
broadcast" of conversations, typing and sending one line of text at a time. Here,
total strangers "meet, talk and discuss." Research has shown an increasingly
number of people spending ours everyday in these chat rooms, living half of their life in
virtual world. This might be an effective way of engaging with the world's affluent people
to come in contact and know more about the Dharma.
During E-mails, it is most common that people reply with a "thank
you" or "yours", but if by simply putting a link to a Good Buddhist Webpage
(eg, Dharmanet International Buddhist ) might arise the person receiving your mail his or
her interest in Buddhism. The mail you sent will then indeed be "value added."
Buddha said " The Gift of Dhamma excels of others" of course by making a link or
even putting some quotes from the Sutras may inspire people's curiosity and present each
and every e-mail of yours to be an e-mail that excels all other mails that the person
Here we put good information where seekers can find it. This is more
interactive then it sounds, though the interaction is with a compute. As with an e-mail
and chat rooms, web pages are anonymous and yet strangely personal. Millions of people
around the whole globe especially Asians are signing upand logging onto the internet these
days, though they tend to be the more educated and wealthier folks, such as academics,
professionals, business people and the younger generations especially youths ! It's a
relatively small and elite group, but a potentially influential one. Even in countries
where there isn't any Buddhist associations or temples due to political beliefs of the
country, still thousands of people getting online everyday as the information highway is
recognised by their leading government as an important key to modernization and
development. It is almost impossible to control access, research has shown last June there
were more than 1.5 million internet users in China. This is estimated to rise to nine
million people by the year 2002.The internet can easily make Buddhist Teachings available
to believers as well as non-believers to these people in these countries and provide them
with excellent Dharma materials and evangelistic materials such as that it may reach to
the many people out there.
People staying in countries where there isn't any Buddhist temples can
too be our fellow Buddhists by gaining their information and putting into practice in
their daily lives. As the millennium had approached, technology, telecommunications,
transport, quality of lives will be expected to increase at a fast speed. Just as Lord
Buddha taught us to be practical, to fit ourselves as a Buddhist in this new era, we have
to constantly keep up with the world. The internet can nature the interest of inquirers
for the quest of Buddhism, Professor of Communications at Calvin College in USA points out
that, as well as anonymous, "the internet is strangely personal. Some people are even
looking for relationships or life-long partners through the net." As a result,
encounters that may begin anonymously may blossom into extended international e-mail-based
relationships which eventually will lead one to Buddhism.
Developing an E-vangelisation
The internet is not the ultimate answer to world evangelisation, but it
does help to make new approaches possible and use it effectively, we must remember two
mission basics as below:
Any strategy for using the internet must take seriously the context of
those trying to reach. This includes researching the ease of internet access, finding out
about any restrictions or monitoring, and discovering what kind of people have the
internet access. It must also include the basics of studying the culture, language,
religions and social context issues of the people so that the materials are relevant to
their particular situation. On the other hand, due to the exchange of knowledge with the
people in the west, sending the Dharma as a context flow of exchange will indefinitely
greatly be benefited by both the sender and the receiver.
The Buddhist Community urgently needs a team of people that includes
those with knowledge of technical skills and those with an understanding of the people.
The latter need to be gifted communicators, both in writing materials for the web and
counseling through correspondence. Location is immaterial. This might be as a project for
someone who has had to return home from the field. Then, where possible, each and every
Buddhists like us could meet with those who bring the torch of Dharma that's so vital in
propagation the Buddha-Dhamma in this 21st Century, Creating chances for people to contact
Buddhism and nurturing people to join the one comic brotherhood of all fellow Buddhists.
With Determination, Wisdom, Love and Energy, let us not fail but success in bringing
Buddhism to the many !Glory be to Lord Buddha !"We should always ask ourselves what
we can give to Buddha instead of asking what Buddha can give us.
If each and everyone is willing to do a part for the propagation of the
Buddha-Dhamma, Buddhism will definitely prosper. Faith is the Key to Buddhahood.
The author, presently the President of Panna Youth Centre, a Buddhist Based Youth
Organisation, Singapore, can be reach at email@example.com