I don't think the online experience is the same as direct, face to face teachings that you have to make the effort to get out to the dharma centre for in a blinding snowstorm, to sit for 4 hours in a stinky meditation hall and to not be able to press pause when you don't catch what the teacher is saying. I hear you saying – wait, what is the con to being all cozy at home, tucked under a blanket and listening to a You Tube video of your benevolent guru clearly via your highspeed internet connection on your crisp Macbook Pro? The drawback to this is that the dharma becomes instant and can easily be taken for granted. The 'always on' culture that we can be swayed by does little to encourage us to emerge from our cocoon and make the effort to participate in our learning experience. Add to this the very experience of traveling in that snowstorm, sitting in the stinky meditation hall and straining to hear a garbling teacher and the ability to work with each of these annoyances. When all one experiences is the comfort of home, it's hard to fully be engaged on the Buddhist path that speaks so much to traveling beyond suffering. Beyond this, the experience of being with a teacher in 'meat space' allows you to sense the full nuances of being in a spiritual relationship – of being a part of this global Buddhist sangha. As much as I like video chatting with my family, it's no replacement for time spent in their company. We can use technology as a crutch and get further obscured by the digital raft that's supposed to carry us to the other side, but is instead making us feel bogged down by the incessant flood of information coming at us on a daily basis. Personally, I have a bulging RSS reader full of new and saved articles from Buddhabloggers and Buddhist magazines all begging for my attention. I have a zillion podcasts waiting to be listened to as well as hours upon hours of You Tube videos marked to watch from a long list of pixellated Rinpoches, Tulkus, Lamas, teachers and students. It will take several lifetimes just to make it through all of these and there comes a time when letting go is the most sane option rather than to even attempt to keep up with it all. Now more than ever, we are encountering the Buddha, Dharma and sangha in different forms but regardless of whether we are engaged in face to face, real time encounters or timeshifting our studies and practice into the great digital beyond, I personally think it's important to remember our intention, our motivation and not to lose site of the essence of the teachings and not to get too hung up or attached in whatever form the messenger appears in. Logging off.
Tanya from Full Contact Enlightnement