16 things NOT to do if you’re an online Buddhist
- Preface your ‘helpful’ comment with “I’ve been meditating for 20 years” in order to make people take you seriously. You sitting on your bum, even if it was in a temple, is no guarantee that everything that comes out of your mouth is true. Let people judge what you say on its own merits.
- Appoint yourself the judge and jury of ethical questions. Ordaining as a Buddhist unfortunately does not automatically make you wiser than anyone else. I think we all know what some Buddhists get up to, including you.
- Build up your case for the Truth with big fancy arguments. The truth is strong enough to stand on its own. And even if nobody gets it, it’s not like it’s going anywhere.
- Go out of your way looking for places where you are ‘needed’ to defend Buddhism, your preferred kind of Buddhism, your whole Sangha, and all the little people who don’t seem to be standing up for themselves. This is a false saviour mentality and a helpful distraction from something you really should be doing, which is probably somewhat less heroic, like doing the dishes or walking your dog. Sorry.
- Say snide things about others, even (especially) anonymously, or on private message to your best buddy.
- Give personal unsolicited advice. It never, ever, ever, works. Particularly if you think someone needs it. Its real-life equivalent is to march uninvited into someone’s private room and rant at them.
- Insist on continuing your unsolicited advice when someone starts crying and/or shouting. This can be hard to notice online – please read carefully and err on the side of caution.
- Defend unsolicited advice with “I was only being helpful”. If people did not find it helpful, you were not helping. Fact.
- Say “Sorry but” or “I wish you well” (or “metta” or whatever) when you’re actually thinking “what a plonker”. (If you said it straight after unsolicited advice, you definitely didn’t mean it.)
- Inflate your status by saying that you are great friends with monks, or even worse, by saying that you once were a monk – even if it’s true. Do monks need to preface their teachings with “I am a monk, and I’m great friends with so-and-so”?
- Comfort yourself that when people don’t recognise you as the second coming, it’s because they are deluded. If nobody’s listening to you, it’s probably because you have poor social skills.
- Think that being Buddhist is a licence to do away with social niceties such as introducing yourself (what’s the ‘self’ anyway?), caring about hurting others (‘feelings’ aren’t Truth!), and giving compliments (all things are subject to change, so who cares if someone makes an effort to look nice?)
- Assume that celibacy is a higher calling
- Assume that sex is a higher calling
- Be smug that your calling is better than anyone else’s
- Think that anyone else’s calling is better than yours.
Meditating Machinery by Wang Zi Won
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