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Lions Roar : July 2017
rely on physical proximity as much as they have in the past. How can Buddhists use social media to create sangha? We often focus on the negatives of technology—that it can create lots of distraction and even isolation. Those are important risks that I worry about. But there’s real potential to bring people together and to foster connection. I’m a member of two temples here— Jikoji Temple and San Francisco Zen Center—and both of them have online components. Both of them post on social media. That helps members of the sangha maintain a connection. We all have busy lives and maybe can’t get to our centers as often as we’d like. It deepens the community to be able to read about what’s happening at the center this weekend, or to be able to livestream a dharma talk. And there are people who have never even been to the San Francisco Zen Center, but are part of the commu- nity because of social media. For them, it’s their whole connection to the community. How much should we worry about technol- ogy mediating or substituting for real-world experiences? Digital technology can be so easy that it becomes a distraction from other things in our lives. In distracting us from other things, it can cause us to lose the sense of connection we have to people in the physical world. But that’s true of all technology. When printed books and newspapers and radio and television all first appeared, people had the same concerns. Those concerns had some validity: why would you need to venture out if you have a newspaper and television programming arriving at your house effortlessly? But society didn’t collapse as a result of those technolo- gies—I think it became richer. We have the same risks and the same concerns about the internet, but I think we can manage them. Do you have a vision for the future of social media? I don’t know that I do. I really value the old and the new. I work at Facebook, which is trying to develop new technolo- gies for bringing people together, and I believe in the work that we do. I also study the dharma—a 2600-year-old set of teachings—and try to understand how it can also help us feel more connected. To me, the future is always a balance between embracing new ways of addressing the human condition and still remember- ing old, timeless wisdom. The fundamental truths of our existence don’t really change as a result of technology. It’s important to remember that. There isn’t a panacea to be found in the next app, but that doesn’t mean technology isn’t useful. It has made the world a better place in countless ways. It all comes back to the middle way. ♦ Cloud Dragon The Joan Sutherland Dharma Works Explore the undomesticated dharma of Joan Sutherland, Roshi, a zen woman with a vision of awakening as enlightenment and endarkenment, suffused by a love of this yearning world. Literate in the original languages of the koans and having kept company with them for decades, she brings ancestral tradition to our contemporary lives in a deep and intimate way. We’re happy to announce that, with her retirement, her teachings are available to everyone through our website. Cloud Dragon subscribers receive monthly audio talks, videos, and a timely message from Joan. Donations to support this work are greatly appreciated. To subscribe, please visit Subscriptions at JoanSutherlandDharmaWorks.org Let’s have tea. Let’s have galaxies, let’s have earthworms, let’s have sorrow and tenderness, and let us pour and receive the bottomless mercy that life has for us in our foolishness, our failures, and our most secret longings. In return, let us forgive the world for being the world, let us allow all things to be forgiven, to be blessed, just for a moment, just for the duration of a cup of tea. PHOTO:JENNIFERESPERANZA LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 17