Analog Revisted

Although we live in an increasingly digital world, we remain analog beings. Nothing digital can replace visceral human touch, taste, smell, sound and breath, and sight. The highest megapixel image cannot convey the sensual experience of feeling the energy in a forest or absorbing an expansive mountain view. Refined CAD design and manufacture will not replace the beauty of a hand crafted item. There is something imperfect, noisy, and messy in the analog world that reminds us of who we are.

I am saddened by all the digital Dharma floating about the Buddhascape. It serves a purpose inasmuch as it can convey data, but it does not replace the living breathing vibrance of direct transmission from teacher to student and saga member to sangha member. From this side of the camera, the digital dance leaves me flat, deflated, and drained, unlike my experience with real bodies in our colorful Dharma center.

I do the best I can with our hybrid online and in person gatherings. It allows people out of the area and other locals to connect. But after four years of practice, I cannot seem to feel any kind of real connection to a name in block letters on a postage stamp of black. The field of folks who are willing to reveal themselves on screen is often smaller than the number of faceless names. This loss of personal connection is very ‘anonymous’, and does little to develop a strong sangha community.

I think the Zoom experience, with all its interconnecting, does not really connect us. Without the nonverbal cues of in person communication, we risk deepening our misunderstanding of one another. There may come a time when we will need to go 100 percent online again as we did during the COVID thing. We will adapt. But how do we regain our ability to engage in real personal time? Studies have shown we are experiencing a serious decline in social skills. Oh well, blah, blah, blah…

I realize this is just a meandering rant from a madman. It is really not about me or my experience. I will do whatever is necessary to offer the Dharma for the benefit of others and rejoice in the various ways of transmission. And, I will also grieve for what we have lost—while continuing to be an imperfect, noisy, messy analog creature abiding in the natural world and and enjoying a few close relationships. 

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