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Karmapa Visits Facebook

The 17th KarmapaOgyen Trinley Dorje, arrived on the West Coast last week to begin his tour of the United States. He's scheduled to give many public talks as well as teachings throughout the country over the next few weeks.  But he's also taking the time to meet with business leaders and employees, and last week spoke at the offices of both Facebook and Google. 

The Karmapa is the head of one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Karma Kagyu.  He is seen by many as the most important Tibetan leader after HH Dalai Lama.  At 29 years old, he's familiar with technology (a self-processed iPhone user), social media, and the internet, and this knowledge, combined with his interest in the environment, women's rights, animal liberation, and other contemporary global problems, enables him to uniquely engage with the West.   

At both Facebook and Google, he was asked about the increased interest in practicing meditation, along with the proliferation of information about meditation available on the internet: 
"In general, I think there is a potential for technology to be of great benefit as a means of disseminating basic information on meditation or other teachings about spiritual practices, yet I also think we need greater mindfulness as to how we are making this information available. He went on to note that, “people have different dispositions. Some tend more toward anger, others toward other habitual emotional states. The traditional Buddhist analogy describes the spiritual teachings as medicine and the teacher as the doctor who administers the medicine based on their examination and diagnosis of the patient. But if you are getting all of your information from the Internet, it is as if the patient is making a self-diagnosis. I am not sure what we should be doing to account for this fact, because it means that you cannot simply upload something for everyone to download to self-medicate themselves. Not everyone should be taking the same dose of medicine at the same time. Therefore there should be some sort of relationship between instructor and instructee.”
This is a topic often discussed at IDP, where students are learning via our podcasts or our Home Study Program. We understand that creating a relationship is as important as instruction - this connection helps to insure that  practice is appropriate, and that students feel part a larger community.  But forging relationships online is tricky.  IDP and other online resources will need to continue considering the implications of our work, and discover more ways to truly connect with everyone, everywhere.  
More information on Karmapa's U.S. Tour is available at his official blog and of course, his Facebook page.  
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I love this quote from him

The Karmapa then explained that compassion is tightly woven with the reality of interdependence that we all share.

"I think all of us have our own individual understanding of what the term 'compassion' means. But I think if we called compassion by another name, we could say it's all about developing a sense of responsibility in relation to the reality of interdependence," he said.


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