Here’s a perfect example of what be accomplished with the Internet and one determined person — in this case, Venerable Pannyavaro of Sydney, Australia. The Theravada monk started in 1993 with an old-school Bulletin Board Service. Now, BuddhaNet is a world-class publisher of text and music.
The site includes chants, hymns, mantras — even whole albums of Buddhist pop music, both for adults and for children. It has scriptures of several traditions, including Pali, Chinese and Tibetan. A map-linked directory locates Buddhist centers almost anywhere, from Bolivia to Bahrain to Botswana.
A multi-level course deals with the life of the Buddha, as well as karma, reincarnation and meditation. Some content takes pdf, ebook or RealAudio form.
One refreshing article names 27 distinctiveness of Buddhism; for instance, that it acknowledges no supreme being. So many leaders these days pretend that all religions are basically the same.
And don’t miss the site’s BuddhaZine. It’s full of mind-tickling content: computer art, crossword puzzles, cartoons, articles on psychotherapy and Buddhist architecture, photos from Bhutan, and those hand gestures known as mudras. It also has more traditional art, like the thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni above.
This otherwise lavish site does have a hole: an apparent lack of a FAQ file for western readers (yeah, like me). Such a file might deal, for example, with the clash between the western ideal of self-fulfillment and the Buddhist ideal of self-annihilation.
Some sites do address such issues. We’ll look at one tomorrow night.