Joy of Online Buddhism by Kathleen Epstein

In these most unusual times of upheaval—the pandemic, social injustice, political unrest, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and so on—there is a bright silver lining. Online teachings, practices, and retreats are helping us all to make sense of our world, receive moral and intellectual support, and stay connected to the precious community of Buddhist practitioners.

A prime example was the fifth Nalandabodhi International Tara Drupchen, which was “Zoomed” from September 24 through 27 and offered all in attendance an excellent experience of practice, teaching, and ritual. There was a beautifully scheduled stream of events devoted to connecting us to the Noble Jetsunma, Arya Tara. Events were streamed from Seattle, Nepal, and the Karmapa Center 16. Over one thousand people attended! As Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche pointed out, we could never have accommodated anywhere near that many people at Nalanda West in Seattle, our main sangha home.

Of course there is nothing quite like being in the actual presence of Rinpoche, the acharyas, lamas, mitras, sangha brothers and sisters, and all the new people who come to this unique event each year. Practicing together in the Mahabodhi shrine room while seated around the golden Tara mandala is an unforgettably powerful experience. However, being connected in the limitless realm of Zoom, with Rinpoche’s presence just two feet in front of me, Mitra Tyler

Dewar’s masterful translation from Tibetan and simultaneous translations in six other languages, I felt the energy of a host of loving people. As we gathered together in this infinite mandala, it was an especially joyful, spacious, and heartening occasion.

I am extraordinarily grateful to Rinpoche’s wisdom and vision, and Nalandabodhi is lucky to have the abilities and energy of numerous presenters, volunteers, technical crews, and administrators. We are extremely blessed to have webcast access to ongoing teachings, study courses, practice sessions, and special classes provided by Nalandabodhi International, the Mahasiddha Retreat Centre in Canada, the Contemplative Resource Center in Texas, Kamalashila Institute in Germany, and the many other Nalandabodhi centers throughout the world. Today, they are all within our own homes, only a Zoom click away!

In addition to this panoply of activities, Nalandabodhi offers an ongoing online study path of four Introductory courses, two Hinayana courses, and six Mahayana courses (for more information, studypath@nalandabodhi.org). The Nitartha Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, founded and guided by Ponlop Rinpoche, offers the entire Foundational and Intermediate curriculum online as well. Live Zoom classes for both the Nalandabodhi curriculum and Nitartha are also available at different times of the year.

A note of interest: Nalandabodhi Akasha will be offering a monthly Green Tara practice session beginning on Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 9am PDT (for Nalandabodhi members).  If you are not already signed up to receive the Akasha weekly update about the many web-based opportunities for teachings, classes, retreats, study, and practice, please complete this form.

See you in the joyous, infinite cyber realm!

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