D.I.Y. Dharma and Buddhism Online
It is late in the evening (or early morning) for me but I wanted to give a shout out the D.I.Y. Dharma folks. This is an ad-hoc sangha of sorts up in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is a regular sitting group that seems to cross the lines of the various Buddhist schools and lineages. They also seem to be open to queer, punk, and generally “out there” types of people. Both kinds of diversity expressed there are things that I admire. Both diversity of lineages and a diversity of individuals are things that I feel Buddhism needs to embrace in the 21st century in North America if it is to both be worthwhile but also reach the people that need it the Dharma the most.
The D.I.Y. Dharma sangha has a nice Drupal community site at the link above. Members of the group have a few blogs where they are posting and a general bit of community scheduling is there. They also have a pretty fair collection of audio online on their sites in both Dharma talks as well as interviews with teachers. I notice that they recently hosted a visit and set of lectures by Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx and Against the Stream so it seems that they are most active than just as a sitting group.
I wish we had more vocal Buddhist bloggers that were really pushing things forward. Maybe they are out there and I just haven’t noticed. I know that I hardly do my part here because I write about so many other topics. I generally dislike getting beyond a certain level in discussing Buddhism online just because I’ve seen so many people pontificating but I would like to see more people doing things. I’m especially hopeful that groups like Falling Fruit will continue to move forward and expand. I’d like to see people trying to do a mix of video and audio podcasting like Treeleaf Zendo as well.
There seem to be more and more teachers and groups that are making teachings or materials available online. There is Treeleaf Zendo, mentioned above, run by Jundo Sensei. Falling Fruit puts out Buddhist Geeks, which is more conversational, but in which they interview teachers and practitioners from quite a few different groups. The Kanzeon Zen Center has a site called “Zen Eye” in which a number of their teachers make all of the regular talks and classes at Kanzeon available for download for a fairly small subscription fee. They release some rather high end video in addition to simple mp3 files. I should also point out that Jiun Sensei of Daiun-Ji Great Cloud Temple (my own teacher) also does a podcast, Path of the Ekayana.
I think that this is a trend that we will see continue. I also believe that the overall effect will be to improve the cross connections between groups and to help make the world a smaller place, in a good way. Here in the Bay Area, there are many many Dharma groups but there are many places in the United States and in the rest of the world where there are very few groups or teachers, often none at all. Buddhist individuals, groups, and teachers sharing online and communicating helps people be less isolated, both personally, and in their conception of the great diversity which exists in the Buddhist traditions of thought and practice.