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Buddhists and the Internet

 

No doubt one reason Buddhists feel so at home in the invisible realm of the Internet is the Buddhist understanding of the ephemeral nature of the material world. Long before nuclear physicists confirmed that matter is actually energy, and that energy in turn is no thing, Buddhists were meditating on the non-substantiality of existence, also known as Sunyata and often translated as "void." Cyberspace is no more real or unreal, important or unimportant, than the "reality" we inhabit all the time. It is another loka, a level of temporary psychological incarnation. Just like the human and heaven and hell realms, it can delude or liberate, depending on one's insight and intent.

Buddhism and modern nuclear physics hold some remarkably similar, quantum views of creation, in which unfathomable numbers of sub-atomic concentrations of energy generate matter by their tendency to exist or not, in and out of the present time/space continuum. The Buddha spoke of the smallest possible discrete unit of time (astakalapa). All of manifested creation is said to be repeatedly projected and "un-projected" within this unimaginably finite period. The resulting blur from this hyperspeed oscillation is what we usually perceive as "reality." Nirvana-the timeless, un-manifest state of pure awareness-fully permeates and inter-exists within samsara, the illusion of objective, concrete reality. Enlightenment is the direct perception of the mind, moments between world-projections.

But if Cyberspace is so spiritual, what about the commercialization and superficial sexploitation of the net? A practiced Buddhist meditator is no more surprised by the Samsara on-line than she or he is about the rampant greed and delusion in the "real" world. All the predictable mind factors are present in all possible regions that human consciousness can pervade, including the modern market place and the media of TV, radio, film and print. Computerized communications is simply the next manifest extension of the collective mind, reflecting the worst and best of human capacities and endeavors, our past as well as our potential. What is most intriguing is the possibility of using this new transpersonal, omni-dimensional intellisphere to swiftly facilitate large-scale improvement in the human condition, just when time has become so critical to our collective survival.

 

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Spirit and flesh: the union of matter and mind, heaven and earth, emptiness and form.