Indra’s Cyber Net

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My thesis was completed in late summer, 2002. In it, I examine the impact of the internet on the development of American Buddhism. Of special concern are the development of community, pedagogical implications, and the commodification of Buddhism. Since I wrote in 2002, almost everything therein is pretty much out of date. Ah, the perennial problem of writing about the ever-evolving Interweb!

Abstract: It is the purpose of the present study to examine to what extent use of the internet will have an impact on an emerging American Buddhism. It is my assertion that Buddhism has been traditionally taught from within a certain socio-cultural framework that employs a hierarchical model of authority between teacher and student. One of the main lessons of Buddhism is to relinquish desires in an effort to overcome suffering to attain higher spiritual ends. To the extent that the internet breaks down hierarchical modes of authority in favor of individuals’ pursuit of knowledge and commodities, Buddhism’s participation within this media is in some sense contrary to its very own message.

© 2002 by Scott A. Mitchell