This week I read a fascinating book about Buddhism and modern technology. I had never put the two together, but author Joanne Miller presents a strong argument in her new book, Buddhist Meditation and the Internet: Practices and Possibilities (Signal 8 Press, 2012).
The first part of the book outlines how Buddhism is practiced in countries without established Buddhist temples, i.e., the west. Unlike in Asia, where Buddhists enjoy easy access to temples and a thriving Buddhist community, believers in the west lack these resources and have turned to the internet as their greatest source of information.
Miller shows how all of the major religions have embraced the internet, and Buddhism is no exception. She praises the internet for providing links to books, online Buddhist shops, and chat rooms. According to Miller, Buddhism has always changed with the times.
But when it comes to meditation, she feels that the internet comes up short. The goal of Buddhist meditation is to let go of all outside influences. But if someone must concentrate on a computer screen or even click on a mouse, he or she can’t fully detach from the technology.
The second part of the book provides a detailed look at popular Buddhist websites aimed at folks in the west. So this book can also serve as a guidebook to the available resources.
After reading this book, I feel more informed and would happily recommend it to anyone who is interested in Buddhism or who already practices it but doesn’t live near a Buddhist community.