Buddhism in the age of digital reproduction
While it can’t be denied that Buddhism has undergone radical changes in the digital age, it is less clear if these transformations merely represent newfangled ways of transmitting the same content or if they represent a fundamental reshaping of how the religion will look going forward. We are also faced with the question of whether digital media universally shape our engagement with religion in particular ways or whether Buddhists engage with digital media in ways significantly different from other religions? In this chapter, to understand digital Buddhism’s flourishing, we first theorize the categories of Buddhism and digital media. Next, we describe three case studies: the 33rd celebration of the Kalachakra festival in Leh, Ladakh, the use of the meditation application buddhify2 and online silent meditation in the virtual world of Second Life. We then lay out our findings that digital Buddhism engages with the uncertainties of contemporary life, thrives in open, networked societies and has a particular style of communication that aims to cause the lessening of suffering rather than the mere transmission of information. We conclude our chapter by outlining how our understanding of Buddhism is significant for the study of religion in the age of digital reproduction more generally.