- Paperback: 178 pages
- Publisher: Signal 8 Press (August 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9881553873
- ISBN-13: 978-9881553874
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,904,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Buddhist Meditation and the Internet: Practices and Possibilities Paperback – August 7, 2012
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About the Author
Joanne Miller, Enfermera Certificada, Diplomada en enfermeria, es enfermera pediatrica del hospital de ninos Bristol-Myers Squibb en New Brunswick, New Jersey. Ademas es escritora, oradora y una de los cofundadores del "National Center for Biblical Parenting" [Centro nacional para la crianza biblica]. Ella y su esposo, Ed, tienen dos hijos.
Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, and her husband Ed, have two boys, Dave and Tim. Joanne has been a pediatric nurse since 1985 and is presently working at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. She is an author and public speaker, and her parenting ideas have helped many families over the years. She is the cofounder of the "National Center for Biblical Parenting" and works with Dr. Scott Turansky to teach parenting classes and to counsel with families.
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Top customer reviews
The irony of the internet is, that it increases or enhances communications on a verbal level when one uses the print media but it misses some of the most important aspects of communication, the tone of voice and body language. To a great exent, the internet is a disembodied means of communication and meditation is both a mental and bodily experience. Furthermore, the computer serves as a temporary body which replaces natural functions or intervenes but as virtual body it has no emotions. The author reviews websites and the virtual experiences they provide: such as dailyzen.com, beliefnet.com, wildmind beginner's course in meditation, a women's sangha group, tricycle on line retreats, good life virtual online retreats, amazenji - online temple and retreat as well as some others. The author recognizes that online communites vary in the way that they integrate body, mind and ritual related to meditation and depending on the emphasis of what one perceives as important, the perception of usefulness will also vary. The limitations of the internet are that although it promotes the community of ideas and a social connection it has difficulty with fulfilling religious practice and religious realization. Despite the technological capacity of interaction, some major aspects of experience related to ritual and practice are missing and cannot be duplicated in a virtual atmosphere. Reviewer received book as gift with option to review. This book is a stimulating reading experience, highly insightful and offers much food for thought regarding Buddhist experience of reality. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]
Such questions occurred to Joanne Miller, a sociologist (I suspect she's Australian) and a practitioner. Her research, integrated smoothly (footnotes speckle the plain-spoken text, blessedly free of academic jargon), confirms her suspicion. However, she then takes us into an examination, graded from casual to more intense sites, of how the Net has evolved, or not evolved, to handle the demands some expect cyberspace to solve regarding online Buddhist community and the formation of what duplicates or expands what happens in more intimate settings of a zendo or meditation group. The book does tend to focus on Zen--which aligns with Dr. Miller's orientation, it seems--and I wondered how Tibetan or vipassana approaches might compare or especially contrast. That aside, this book succeeds in demonstrating the difficulty of transferring a physical experience.
Unlike other religions, the text or the ritual is not the stress for dharma; it's the embodied presence of the meditator and actor. Understandably, the former category gains more attention than the latter. However, Dr. Miller correctly notes how Western Buddhism pushes meditation as the be-all of Buddhism in some insistent corners, to the detriment of ethical activity, study, and application of what is inculcated on the cushion.
The "main performative action" of sitting, she relates, cannot be reproduced technologically. What a screen may generate as a visualization is not from within the mind, and similarly, what is presented via mediation cannot substitute for what may be produced and shared in intangible but present ways between those in a real-time sit or dokusan. Also, the authority of those in a dokusan cannot be backed up with an online teacher, and many such, she reckons, deny the need for such approval before setting themselves up online or in the world as instructors.
Lots of points raise reflection. Doubt can grow when one's precepts are exposed online, she tells us as an aside. Individualization accelerated by the curious seeker online may increase confusion. One is networked, true, but also adrift and dependent on guides who may not be able to provide the direction of personal ones in one's own life, one-on-one in person. This menju, this one-to-one interaction, Dr. Miller repeats, cannot suffice online. Words, dependent for our transmitting what is going on online (this may change if we can plug in more directly one day...), are also insufficient to give each other the dharma-value that menju does.
Yet, out of this same experimental situation, Buddhism may arguably evolve and test itself in an entirely new venue. Gregory Grieve is quoted as suggesting "a real and authentic 'virtual embodiment' can equate with offline embodiment." He defines this as "a sustained, immersed bodily performance in a virtual space constrained by physical norms." We'll see!
Erika Borsos has preceded me with a fine summation of Dr. Miller's argument. (I too was provided with a review copy.) I tried to add to her precis my own reflections. I recommend this study. In my own college courses in Comparative Religions, and Technology, Culture and Society, I anticipate passing along insights gleaned within this valuable work. May research and progress continue in this field, as scholars and practitioners both will learn from Dr. Miller's survey-to-date of the past decade or so.