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 Therefore, rather than summarize a batch of academic papers which were out of date within a month of printing, I would like to challenge my classmates and readers of the blog to help construct the digital face of Buddhism today.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:
- 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