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Real life or online?

Real life or online?

In these interviews, recorded by a team from, Venerable Thubten Chodron answers questions about her life and what it means to be a Buddhist in the 21st century.

This is going to be a challenge for us, because technology is so widespread. On one hand, it gives us the ability to reach so many more people, and people can hear so many more teachings and so on.

The one thing that technology lacks though, is really making that personal connection. I think there’s a big difference between watching teachings on a video, and being in a room in the presence of somebody who is teaching you the teachings directly. There’s a very big difference between those.

So I would hate to see 21st century Buddhism become only based on technology, because I think that personal relationship with the teacher is very important. I think hearing the teachings directly from somebody in real time is very important, not only for what is taught, but how we hear it. Because when a teacher teaches, if there’s a live audience, you’re getting information from the audience all the time, about whether they’re understanding it or not. If you’re just making a video series of topics, you have no idea whether your audience is going to understand it.

That’s from the part of the teacher.

From the part of the audience, when you’re in front of somebody who’s teaching the Dharma, you sit up, yeah? You’re paying attention, okay you doze off a little bit, but at home, you lean back in your chair, you put your feet up, you take out your cup of coffee and the potato chips, and you’re eating during the teaching, then there’s something good on TV so you press the pause button and go off and watch TV.

And then maybe you come back to the Dharma talk, or not.

So, technology is wonderful, but I don’t think we should have everything depend and rely on technology.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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