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Lions Roar : May 2009
shaMBhaLa sun May 2009 11 It’s All About You IN DECEMBER, 2006, Time stunned cultural critics with its “Person of the Year” cover star: You. Yes, you. Where once the magazine had famously singled out societal heroes and villains, there was now a reflec- tive rectangle of film affixed to the image of a com- puter monitor, daring anyone looking at a copy not to see themselves. Though Time was criticized as being gimmicky, the point was made: we had entered a new era, with online communication at the fore. We’ve been there ever since. And while some might bemoan that fact as exemplary of some kind of in- stitutionalized disconnectedness, the truth is that the Internet lets us reach across the world to support each other and have dialogues in ways that were simply im- possible just years ago. Particularly ripe for “web optimization” is the realm of Buddhism and all those who are working toward building a more mindful society. Thanks to blogs, virtual sitting groups (Jundo Cohen, the administra- tor of one such group, goes out of his way to say that meditating together via online interface isn’t “virtual” at all, and he’s got a point), and the constant discus- sion that the web engenders, dharma-friendship truly knows no bounds these days. The web isn’t an escape from reality; it’s another aspect of it. So it follows that that’s where our readers increas- ingly do a significant portion of their living: organiz- ing their sanghas, creating conversation, bringing the dharma into their lives, and bringing their lives into the dharma. That’s fantastic, and as the Shambhala Sun’s new editor of web publications, I’m here to tell you that we’re right there with you. Here’s how: • ShambhalaSun.com. Every day on ShambhalaSun. com, you’ll find new and classic journalism and teachings that speak to your many interests. Our print archive is available online, and you’ll find con- tent from each new issue—plus complementary web- only exclusives. On our homepage’s “Join the Con- versation” section, you’ll learn the newest ways that your voice can play a role in what we have planned, and a link to our recently launched Shambhala Sun Events page will point you to gatherings where you can meet and interact with some of the world’s finest authors and teachers. • Shambhala SunSpace. Our blog offers up-to-the- minute dharma and culture news, video, and other surprises, plus special moderated Q&A’s and blogs from the teachers and writers you’ve come to know and love. With our Shambhala Sun Audio series, you can stream and download interviews that bring the voices of the magazine to life, and our slideshows will show you photos and art from around the world and across the ages. Above all, SunSpace is interactive, with every post just waiting to be further enlivened by your feedback and comments. And because our readers are so engaged, we’ll be launching two new mini-sites where you (yes, you!) will be in charge: • The Shambhala Sun Calendar. Whether you’re look- ing for a retreat, workshop, or other Buddhist-oriented event to take part in, or want to tell others about one, this is the place. • MahaSangha News. Have a milestone to report from your Buddhist community? Here you can log in and share it with the world. And then there are, of course, our magazines— Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, and the award-winning Shambhala Sun. Whether in print, in person, or on the web, it’s all of a piece. As the “new guy,” I’d like to end on a somewhat personal note. In my ten or so years of working in the Buddhist arena, I’ve met some of the most wonder- ful people one could imagine. Now that I’m part of the Shambhala Sun crew, I see that I’ve been blessed again: they bring commitment, forward thinking, and unpretentiousness to everything they do. So I’m proud to work on these new initiatives—which, really, are natural next steps toward transcending perceived lines between “us” and “you.” That seems like a worthy goal for a Buddhist magazine and its readers, don’t you think? By joining together with you (yes, you!), we know we can make our shared world a brighter one. See you online. — ROD MEADE SPERRY, EDITOR OF WEB PUBLICATIONS PHOTOBYLIzAMATTHEWS