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   «  Buddhism Q&A  » had a complicated history as a g+ community: it was deleted in September 2013 by…
March 24th, 2016
   « Buddhism Q&A » had a complicated history as a g+ community: it was deleted in September 2013 by its original creator, and had to be re-created by whoever would take the responsibility to do so… after realising that the community had vanished and tons of informative threads had been lost.

   In fact, it was unclear at the time whether 'letting go' or 'rebirth' was the most useful strategy. Many considered that « Buddhism and Meditation », the largest and most active buddhist community on g+ (then, and now), could have 'absorbed' the function of its late sister community.

   This community offered a unique proposition though, among the so many buddhist communities on g+: a place where dialogue is the priority, where responses matter… by opposition to the classic internet 'sharing', which is really better described as "unilaterally pushing onto others whatever one likes" than actual 'sharing' (which, by definition, calls for the contributions  of more than one!).

   Historically, several Buddhist traditions valued debates highly: the Abhidhammic traditions like Therevada (using debates to enquire and reach intricate psychological and philosophical understandings), the Tibetan traditions (raising dialogue as one of the most important "skilful means"), Zen traditions (using koans, hwadus and interviews to make conventional truths implode and thus tear the veils of 'certainties')…
   And yet, in most tradition-specific g+ communities, debate quickly turns confrontational: dissent is quickly perceived as insulting, disagreement is quickly taken personally. Hence, online, most traditions tend to become stale, rigid, empty claims of superiority, and recitations / quotes of old insights by dead teachers, i.e. the worst kind of "information bubbles" (and then many communities just die of inactivity)… or they tend to become mere collections of random, noisy claims by ignorant individuals, each aggressively clinging to their certainties and ignoring others [without consequence due to the absence, complacency or indifference (the "near enemies" of 'non-fighting' and 'equanimity') of moderators forgetful of what 'responsibility' and 'service' mean].
   To meet an online community like « Buddhism Q&A » which actually supports constructive  debates and enquiry, starting with questions rather than assertions, is rare. To meet an online community that actually supports a variety of answers, yet without  naïvely accepting 'everything' (e.g. racist or deceitful claims), is rare. To see it survive the test of time is inspiring.

   Now, with 980 members and 168 posts, the « Buddhism Q&A » community has found its place again, I believe, with unfrequent posts (one a week or so, over two and a half years) but genuine, varied questions from a variety of people, and interesting threads in response.
   If you're interested in Buddhism, you might want to check it out… and to participate!
   There's a genuine 'cultivation' perceptible when people ask questions in order to get answers instead of assuming they already know, and when answers from various perspectives happily complement one another instead of competing. In a sense, « Buddhism Q&A » regularly manifests the best of what 'social  media' is supposedly about… and it might be a lot truer to the Buddhist goal of 'relinquishing all views' than most communities: asking questions as well as answering the questions of others (instead of limiting oneself to one's own interests) are great ways to realise that there's never a single, contextless, perfect answer… not even silence! They're great ways to embody collaboration, selflessness, discernment and wholesome speech.


#Buddhism