Well, I did it! I made the plunge. I joined the virtual world. I just created a Kadam Ryan Facebook identity (is that what you call it? Perhaps it is “profile.”) and I reconnected with a Twitter identity I briefly created out of curiosity about a year ago. I then went looking for “friends”, and I found my (real) friends, my Sangha buddies!
One of the hardest parts about my new life is not having daily or regular contact with my Sangha. For me, Facebook then becomes a sort of virtual lifeline to (and eventually meeting place to be with) my Sangha. I was actually (pleasantly) surprised when I found how many Kadampas are already in this world. When I saw each name, I was able to remember my time with them, and in this way I could reconnect with them and all that they mean to my life.
Then a couple of days passed by, and I have really only just now been able to reopen my Kadam Ryan gmail address. I then saw all of the people who “confirmed me” as their friend. Seeing this was, for me, like those first few hours when we arrive at a Festival at Manjushri and we run into everybody we know and it is like one big family reunion.
The reality is we are moving into a digital world. Not completely, but quite significantly in terms of the number of hours of our day will be engaged with it. When you consider the number of hours a day we are in front of our computers plus our time in front of the TV plus our time in front of our smartphones plus out time listening to music, virtually ALL of our waking experience time is taking place in this digital world. The rest of the time we are either tending to the needs of our body (cleaning it, feeding it, putting it to sleep) or in the dream state. Even during a good hour of our non-digital waking time, we are meditating so not really engaging all that much with physical reality.
It seems to me our interactions in this digital world now will define the culture and parameters of the Kadampa experience on the digital world for generations to come. If we do it right, we can create the feeling of a global festival of all digital Kadampas all of the time! This is really important.
I see the tremendous potential for creating a global digitial Sangha (maybe the Kadampa IT people can create an internal “Sanghabook.org” which functions exactly like Facebook but where it is an all Kadampa environment). Eventually all of the different Kadampa blogs could be transferred to a host owned by the NKT, etc., etc., etc. Each center will develop a digital identity and community. People could blog and chat and share from the festivals in real time like people do for political or sporting events, so that the whole world can participate no matter where they are. Of course all of this has to be done right, and it will take a long time before it matures to that level, but it does seem inevitable.
But for me and for now, the realities of my life are such that I will, despite a sincere effort, probably be pretty bad at being a good digital friend. But please know it is not because I don’t love you all very much. You are my Sangha, my vajra family. I take refuge in you. We are the planets that orbit the sun of our Guru, and as long as we stay in each other’s orbit we will all pull, push, surf each other to enlightenment. We all hold on to Venerable Geshe-la and enjoy the meaningful (and blissful) ride!
OM VAJRA WIKI WITRANA SOHA