Exploring the Digital Face of Buddhism

Buddhist Websites

While a great many studies, articles, and books have been published about Buddhism in America, both as a whole and from the perspective of specific Buddhist communities, scholarship on digital Buddhism is far behind the curve.  Charles Prebish has authored a few articles, the Buddhist Geeks podcast has covered the internet-based work of various teachers, and there are a few graduate theses and dissertations in recent years (see Bibliography).  But this is nothing compared to the in-depth monographs and quality anthologies about other aspects of American Buddhism.  Perhaps this is because Buddhism on the internet is a moving target, as with all things web-based.  Therefore, rather than summarize a batch of academic papers which were out of date within a month of printing, I would like to challenge my classmates and readers of the blog to help construct the digital face of Buddhism today.

It’s simple.  Below I have posted my five favorite Buddhist websites.  In the comments, please tell us about five other awesome Buddhist websites without duplicating what’s gone before.  I know that may be a hard task, so the sooner you comment, the easier it will be to find a Buddhist website or blog which hasn’t been listed yet.  If you feel like being an overachiever, you can even tell us why you like these sites and how you use them in your study and practice.  Otherwise, just list them.  Here are mine:

Monica’s Favorites

  • Buddhanet – Buddhanet was there for me when I was just a baby Buddhist blogger trolling the internet for things I didn’t even know how to pronounce.  They have a wonderful set of resources on both Theravada and Mahayana teachings as well as a global directory of Buddhist centers.
  • Access to Insight – This has lately become my go-to source for the Pali suttas and commentary from Theravada teachers.  In addition to a large portion of the Tripitaka available in English translation, it frequently provides multiple translations of a single sutta for comparison, as well as collections of sutta verses and/or discourses on various topics, such as stress (dukkha) or jnana (meditative absorption).  Most articles have been published elsewhere in print and are entirely suitable for citation in academic papers.
  • Dhamma Talks – A great collection of audio recordings from Metta Forrest Monastery, a Theravada center in an avocado grove just outside Escondido, California.  In addition to both long and short daily talks by the abbot, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, the site also hosts beautiful recordings of Pali chants by the resident monks and their texts and translations.  I highly recommend the chants and guided meditations.
  • Wikipedia’s Buddhism Portal – The Buddhism Portal on Wikipedia is a handy place to get started when exploring any topic in Buddhism for the first time.  I find it pretty reliable.  Of course, it is Wikipedia, so read critically and always check the citations.
  • My Google Reader RSS Feed – I subscribe to a number of Buddhist blogs and news feeds using Google Reader, which delivers all their content to one spot.  This includes: American Buddhist Perspective, Angry Asian Buddhist, Buddhist Geeks, New Books in Buddhist Studies, Off the Cushion, Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, and more.  If you have a Gmail account, setting up a Google Reader feed is easy and convenient.  It’s a good way to keep up with your favorite Buddhist bloggers (like me?).  If not Gmail, their are a number of other RSS aggregaters out there to choose from.

(Yes, I know, that brings me to more than five.  What’s in your RSS feed? Tell us. We’d like to know.)

If you want to read more about the history of Buddhism online, you can check out some of the resources I unearthed listed below.


Connelly, Louise. Aspects of the Self: An analysis of self reflection, self presentation, and the experiential self within selected Buddhist blogs. Doctoral dissertation for the University of Edinburgh, 2011.

Fenn, Mavis. “Teaching Buddhism by Distance Education: Traditional and Web-Based Approaches.” Teaching Buddhism in the West. Hori, Victor Sogen, Hayes, Richard, and Shields, Mark J. eds. New York: Routledge Curzon, 2002.

Greider, Brett. “Academic Buddhology and the Cyber-Sangha: Research and Teaching Buddhism on the Web.” Teaching Buddhism in the West. Hori, Victor Sogen, Hayes, Richard, and Shields, Mark J. eds. New York: Routledge Curzon, 2002.

Hayes, Richard. “The Internet as a Window onto American Buddhism.” American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship. Williams, Duncan Ryuken and Queen, Christopher S. eds. Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon Press, 1999.

Mitchell, Scott A. Indra’s Cyber Net: The Impact of the Internet on the Development of American Buddhism. Master’s thesis for the Graduate Theological Union, Berkley California, October 2002.

Prebish, Charles. “The Cybersangha: Buddhism on the Internet.” In Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet.
Edited by Lorne Dawson and Douglas Cowan. New York: Routledge, 2004, pp. 135-147.

Prebish, Charles. “Indra’s Net and the Internet,” Religious Studies News, 10, 1 (February, 1995), 14, 41. Co-authored with Wayne Husted and Damien Keown.

Post by Monica Sanford

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14 thoughts on “Exploring the Digital Face of Buddhism

  1. Alyssa Le says:

    1) Amitabha Pureland (http://www.amtbweb.org/index.html)-This is the site I go to for inspirations. It has great resources and materials on Buddhist teachings for both adults and children. The site contains beautiful galleries, inspirational quotes, flash shows under Inspiration and Master Ching Kung tabs. On its home page to the right, under Navigation, there are links to a Path to Peace calendar, ecards which are some of my favorites and more.
    2) http://www.chinkung.org (http://www.amtb.cn/e-bud/e-bud.htm)-Another site provides abundant resources on Buddhism, especially on Pureland and Mahayana teachings and dharma talks by Master Chin Kung.
    3) Quang Duc Buddhist Homepage (http://www.quangduc.com/menu2.html)-This site provides Buddhism resource in both Vietnamese and English. I often use its Buddhist dictionary under Vietnamese for my study. It links to extensive lists of other sites for both Vietnamese and English speakers.
    4) The Amitabha Buddhist Retreat Center (http://www.abrc.org.au/index.html)- Another resourceful site on Buddhist teaching and Pureland Buddhism. I highly recommend the texts that can be download under eLibrary by both Venerable Master Chin Kung and Venerable Wuling.
    5) Deer Park Monastery (http://deerparkmonastery.org/)-A Practice Center in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.
    6) Thôn Di Đà (http://www.thondida.com/): A Pureland Buddhism website for Vietnamese speakers provides extensive dharma talks and materials in Vietnamese.

  2. Stephen Bell says:

    1. Free Buddhist Audio: http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/
    2. List of lists: http://www.leighb.com/listlist.htm
    3. Audio Suttas: http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/index.html
    4. Wildmind: http://www.wildmind.org/
    5. Atrocity News (about Caste oppression in India): http://atrocitynews.com/

  3. skirtsoflight says:

    One or two in your list that I hadn’t found yet — thank you! My addition to the list: Karen Maezen Miller’s ‘Cheerio Road’, Cheryl Wilfong’s ‘The Meditative Gardener’, James Ure’s ‘The Buddhist Blog’, Jeanne Desy’s ‘The Dalai Grandma’, and ‘The Worst Horse’. Five!

  4. jane naomi iwamura says:

    By far my all-time fave:

    Zen – Kodaiji Temple

    The site has been up for a long time; and relies on Flash Shockwave that is now outdated. It is also a static configuration. However, it makes great use of the web’s potential – beyond sheer information sharing.

    Other uses we might consider are Second Life – again, a bit outdated. But we might think about why Second Life failed so dismally, while social networking sties flourished. For those unfamiliar with Second Life:


    These are two I can think of right off the top of my head (without duplicating what’s been posted). Also, would encourage us to consider the world of apps, gaming, and of course – YouTube! Ah – the digital realm offers a myriad of possibilities!

  5. Here are five Buddhist websites that I frequent; they’re not necessarily my favorite, I just go to them more often than other Buddhist sites. I’ve also provided a brief description of what they’re good for and why I go there. Happy perusal!

    1. Tara Mandala: this is the website of the retreat and practice center in the southern Colorado Rockies of my teacher, Lama Tsultrim Allione. It provides me with links to my teacher’s video and audio teachings, her schedule, the schedule of upcoming trainings, as well as a history of our lineage.
    2. Maithri Publications: one of my favorite Buddhist texts is the Dhammapada and this website, among many, many other things, has one of my favorite translations.
    3. A Buddhist Library: my favorite Buddhist text is the Bodhisattvacaryavatara by Santideva; this website has not only a PDF version of the entire text in English, it has teachings from hundreds of teachers across most of the Buddhist lineages – for free!
    4. Tibetan Buddhist Internet Radio: this website has recorded audio talks from many Tibetan Buddhist teachers East and West, as well as an archive of Tibetan chants and prayers. You can listen to all the teachings right on your computer without having to download any software or wonder if the file will open in iTunes.
    5. The International Dzogchen Community in North America: the Dzogchen Master connected with my lineage is Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. This website keeps me connected to his activities and the activities of the LA center (and other centers throughout North America, as well as gars and lings across the world) and provides me access to past webcasts and printed Dzogchen teachings.

  6. Charles Prebish says:

    Readers might like to check out the Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library compiled by Matthew Ciolek at http://www.ciolek.com/wwwvl-buddhism.html. It has a huge amount of useful listings.

  7. Bill M. says:

    Hello everyone:
    Many great sites listed above, I’ll be checking them out. Thanks to everyone for listing them.
    One of my favorite sites is http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/.
    It has wonderful, non-sectarian, podcasts on varying topics re. emerging Buddhism. An important elements to the podcasts is the effect of technoly on the Buddhadharma.

  8. Drew Baker says:

    Nice post, Monica! As we create this “web” (pun very much intended, har har), it will be a very “internet” approach to the internet. 🙂

    Some of mine:

    1) I’ll confess that I’m quite a bibliophile at heart, and so it only seems fitting that my first website is Amazon. I probably spend more time on that website in regards to Buddhism for both personal reflection and research, even though 99.9% of the time (ok-99.8% of the time 😉 ), I don’t actually purchase anything. It is still a great resource, as one can page through many of the texts digitally, read reviews, and find books similar to other texts. At its best, I truly believe that the internet is a supplement to our “normal” lives, and this is a perfect example of how the digital age has not necessarily killed print. (http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Religion-Spirituality-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=12279)

    2) Continuing the print/digital theme, one site I’ve been spending a lot of time lately is actually a bibliography: (http://www.academicroom.com/bibliography/colonialism-and-postcolonialism-relation-buddhism-bibliography). Scholars are only starting to really connect the resources in postcolonial studies with the study of Buddhism, but a lot of great work has been done, and Anne Blackburn does a wonderful job with brief descriptions of the texts. Her breakdown also shows what work still needs to be done; dare I say it, for instance, that little has been done on turning the postcolonial lens on Buddhism(s) in America?

    3) While I like a number of academic journals on Buddhism, Journal of Global Buddhism is one of my favorites. The website is easy to use and all of the articles are archived for public use (and for someone who has serious ethical concerns about the increasing marketization of academic journals, I doubly appreciate that fact). Many important essays can be found within. (http://www.globalbuddhism.org/)

    4) Several folks have already noted one of my favorite Buddhism blogs (Angry Asian Buddhist) but I encourage everyone to also check out the blog Dharma Folk which Arun used to contribute to. While the blog has slowed down quite a bit, the archive has a number of extremely interesting (and still quite relevant) reflections on a number of topics. (http://dharmafolk.com/)

    5) While this is cheating a bit, since it isn’t website explicitly about Buddhism, I highly recommend the Immanent Frame, a site that deals with the complex and quite political interconnections between secularism and religion. While “Buddhist secularism” has seemed to have exploded as a topic lately (in scholarship, blogosphere, etc.), to my knowledge, it really hasn’t been problematized or contextualized much, either in its connections to wider currents in secularity, or in its 200+ year historical connections to colonialism (spoiler alert: “Buddhist secularism” is not as new as we might be led to believe). And thankfully, Immanent Frame has had a number of contributions that centrally and explicitly address Buddhism. (http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/)

  9. Monica says:

    Dr. Prebish, thank you! That is an amazing resource. I am very happy to see that it is quite up to date. We appreciate the reference.

  10. josephrogers3 says:

    I always love finding new links, thank everyone for sharing.

    Here are some of my top sites:

    DharmaSeed.org – A good source of talks from Western and non-Western Vipassana teachers.

    AgainstTheStream.org – An example of what a modern convert Buddhist community does with the web. Full disclosure, this is my home community, but it’s still a great site.

    Twitter – there is a huge contingent of Buddhists who tweet, far too many to list here. But a quick search of “Buddhism” should give you a list of some of the top Buddhist tweeters. You can also check out 12 Buddhists you should be following on Twitter according to the Huffington Post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/buddhism-on-twitter_n_910389.html#s316395&title=His_Holiness_the
    If you want to see on online community of Buddhists on Twitter, search the hashtag #OMCru which stands for the Online Meditation Crew. They are a group of practitioners who sit together online and post when they will be sitting via twitter. I really enjoy the non-centralized, non-hierarchical, DIY approach of this group.

    And speaking of DIY…

    DIYdharma.org is a “a peer-led community of freaks, geeks, queers, trans-folk, rebels, outcasts, stream-enterers and their friends, who meditate together in the Buddhist tradition.” This site is wonderful for people who would like to create sangha because they don’t have any nearby. Perfect for any aspiring Dharma Punx out there.

    iphone apps – I know this isn’t a website, but the Access to Insight app and Insight Timer have their own Dharma folder on my home page. The ATI app is formatted for the iphone, which is easier to read than the webpage, but it doesn’t contain the whole site unfortunately. I like the Insight Timer app as it has social media connectivity and a place to journal post meditation. The bells are also the most pleasing I have found in a free app.

  11. Alan says:

    Some of my favorite web resources:

    Sujato Blog

    Sujato Books and other resources:

    Secular Buddhism

    Santa Barbara Institute

    Thanissaro Bhikkhu talks and books

    Leigh Brasington

    Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Home of Richard Gombrich!

    Buddhist Film Foundation

    Barbara O’Brien

    Dharma Folk (not a lot of postings recently)

    Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

    Dharma Study (Richard Blumberg)

    Pali Canon Online

    Wat Metta

  12. Stephanie Lyn says:

    Being late to the party, I don’t have much to add to what’s already been suggested. Here are a few sites that interest me – although not necessarily Buddhist. I look forward to checking out some of the great recommendations above!




  13. Alan says:

    I put a big long list here, hit post and it disappeared. Hopefully in moderation? Not looking forward to recreating it if not.

  14. Alan says:

    Hi Stephanie, thanks for putting up Rick Hanson’s website. I love his book “Buddha’s Brain” and get both of his newsletters.

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