16 things NOT to do if you’re an online Buddhist

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Say snide things about others, even (especially) anonymously, or on private message to your best buddy.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Defend unsolicited advice with “I was only being helpful”. If people did not find it helpful, you were not helping. Fact.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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”?
  11. 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.
  12. 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?)
  13. Assume that celibacy is a higher calling
  14. Assume that sex is a higher calling
  15. Be smug that your calling is better than anyone else’s
  16. Think that anyone else’s calling is better than yours.

Meditating Machinery by Wang Zi Won

24th May 2013

Comments (17)

  1. 1st visit to your blog from a Reddit link. Kudos for being one of the very few blogs I’ll read today that contains content I haven’t already seen in some form before. Lovely post.

  2. Excellent post. Nothing to disagree with and very wittily written. Sorry to say, I don’t always keep to this guidance……..I particularly liked “I think we all know what some Buddhists get up to, including you.”

  3. It feels like you wrote the same point 16 different ways.

    This could be summed up in one.

    1. Don’t give off the impression that because you are buddhist, you are better or smarter or more enlightened.


  4. 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

    and ….


    I’m a Buddhist writer and coach. I studied at a Zen monastery for a year before serving as editor to the Buddhist Society. My work has been featured in Elle, the Guardian, the BBC and Time Out.

    Contradiction ?

    • Well spotted! If I wrote purely socially, which is what the first statement refers to, I would not have a bio listing achievements. The bio is there for work purposes, when I ask editors to read my blog so they’ll hire me.

      • I think your bio is rather humble, actually… considering all the other things you’ve done.

        Great post, and applicable to real life Buddhists, not just online ones ;-)

  5. Bravo, Mia!

  6. Great stuff, Mia. Love it.

  7. As an old fart who has tramped his way through most of the nooks and crannies of the “spiritual” path and has finallycome to realize, (thank God!) that there’s nowhere to go and no-one to go anywhere anyway, I love the freshness and sincerity of your blog. “Truth” may be eternal but has to be constantly rediscovered and reinterpreted through the efforts of every seeker. Thank you for having the courage to share your experience and insights.

  8. I like this post and this blog. I think your writing is refreshing because it seems like you are just muddling through this stuff like the rest of us.

    Sometimes I think you hit the nail on the head other times less so..

    I’m a fan!

    Peter

  9. I enjoy the freshness and wittiness and some useful points here, although I felt a little pang of pain at point 11:
    “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.”

    wondered what you meant by ‘second coming’ – I guess important?
    The pang was more around the 2nd half – nobody listening to you and this equating poor social skills can be painful. I don’t think poor social skills are always the reason for people not listening to you. Sometimes whether the appearance of or actuality of people not listening to you can be for many reasons including low sense of self worth /confidence in the subject and a multitude of possible things happening for those not listening. People not listening to you in certain conditions can be really painful, even damaging sometimes, sometimes it can also be a teaching.
    Just wanted to point to my experience of reading that point.
    Thanks for the article, N.

    • The post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, I hope you won’t take it too seriously. If something isn’t helpful to you, please don’t take it to heart. This post was a response to a very few individuals (and certainly not you) who, uninvited and unwelcome, take it on themselves to be bigshot “Dharma missionaries”. They don’t knock on doors, they take it on themselves to break them down…

      “Second coming” was a reference to thinking you’re the return of Jesus Christ. So not just ‘important’, but superior to all. (Although I have no doubt that the actual Jesus was far too humble to be superior.)

      Again, “If nobody’s listening to you, it’s probably because you have poor social skills” was a response specifically meant for bigshot wannabe “Dharma missionaries”. In terms of preaching the Dharma, if people aren’t listening, then my point was that it’s safe to say that it isn’t the right thing to do at that time. I’m sorry I hadn’t made that clear.

      Thank you so much for your feedback; I think you may have picked up on the pain that I experienced as a result of being knocked-on-the-head by someone who held that superior attitude. Yes you’re so right there are many other reasons why others may not be listened to; sometimes you may find that you are the only one who does have good social skills so you’re the odd one out! I wish everyone could be listened to. It changes everything. It means the world.

  10. Ahh, thanks for the time you have taken to respond, and the thoughtfulness and explanations. It made me chuckle at times….now I understand the meaning of 2nd coming. I agree with your comment “meant to be tongue-in-cheek, I hope you won’t take it too seriously”. It’s good to take any comment as intended and contexually – so your clarification was helpful. It is a minor point I was making, but responded spontaneously from a personal pang in that moment. It can be just as much enlightening about an aspect of oneself to have these pangs.
    I enjoy the lightness/tongue and cheekness of the list. Keep on writing. Any juicy questions will come your way!

  11. Spiritual arrogance. I’m quite aware of it, unless I’m not! : )

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