|Blogs are inherently non-local phenomena. Even though South Houston Sangha News targets the upper Texas coast and, with its newness, has not yet established a robust traffic pattern, it receives visitors from all over the world. This is a partial list of countries with visitors arriving within the past several weeks.|
- Michigan Buddhist. This is a true "one-stop" outreach meta-site, and is fabulously constructed both in terms of esthetic design and technical sophistication. As the "About" section conveys succinctly, "Michigan Buddhist collects and distributes Dharma-related information of particular interest to Michigan practitioners. We publicize speakers, retreats and happenings, and maintain a listing of temples, sangha, meditation centers, and discussion groups throughout Michigan. We provide a list of relevant links for those looking to learn about Buddhism and inform their practice, and a calendar of upcoming events."
- The Sumeru Guide to Canadian Buddhism. This site does not investigate the groups and Temples that it tabulates, nor does it appear to track and publicize events or collate news content, but it is a very thorough, well-designed, and frequently-updated directory of basic resources.
Non-Surprising Lesson #2: Geographically-based Buddhism and meditation outreach is sorely needed. There seems to be a tacit assumption that those ordinary middle-class non-newsmaking American people are not high priorities for outreach. After all, do most of them not have comfortable lifestyles, especially compared to most of the world's peoples? Don't most of them have gainful employment? Access to education? Why should they be a focus? By the very fact that they are lucky enough to be in America, are they not already equipped to identify and procure spiritual resources under their own power?
Such a perspective is not a very compassionate view. American residency is no guarantee that life will be even remotely free of suffering. Even in my very limited spiritual travels, I've met people who have debilitating health problems that inflict chronic pain upon them, who have experienced the tragic deaths of their closest loved ones, who have been the victims of violent crime, whose families have abandoned them, who are ensnared in addiction, and who have been systematically violated by institutional Christianity. Very often when people are actively searching for new spiritual resources such as meditation groups, it is in response to some acute crisis unfolding in their lives. I've heard stories of pure despair from people trying to cope with a complete lack of informational resources and outreach as they conduct their searches, an unfortunate reality that imparts unnecessary insult to their existing life injuries. Rest assured, if you decide to initiate a true meditation and Buddhism outreach site in your geographic area, you will be supplying an immediate benefit to people who warrant compassion.
Surprising Lesson #3: Many "Buddhism outreach" search engine hits actually refer to missionary sites that seek to convert Buddhists to Christianity, rather than to sites that supply meditation and associated resource information. Examples here ("ministering to people influenced by Buddhist worldviews") and here ("Christ's Great Commission gives Christians a mandate to take the gospel to every person, including the large number of Buddhist peoples. Since we understand that Buddhists are seeking truth, and because Jesus Christ is "the Truth," we are doubly bound to declare the gospel to them"). These sites are not helpful to people who are searching for true Buddhism and meditation outreach, and thus it is useful to counterbalance those viewpoints by supplying actual resources. It's important to recognize that I'm not talking about prosetylizing here. I'm just talking about making specific information readily available to those people who are actively searching for it.
I've added a link category called "OTHER REGIONAL OUTREACH SITES" in the left-hand column of this blog layout where I will list any additional useful resources that I encounter in my web travels. If you are considering the creation of a Buddhism and/or meditation outreach site in your local area, please refer to that section for additional good examples and ideas, and feel free to contact me via southhoustonsangha - gmail if you need advice or assistance. Thanks!!