I’ve been long contemplating some of the lost aspects of the ancient “Samana” culture of India (which Buddhism owes a tremendous debt of gratitude towards). One neat thing they used to have were “Wanderer’s Parks”; places for the various Sadhu wanderers to meet, as well as hold discussions and debates. To me, this is very much in a similar spirit to what the Western Buddhist Monastic Gatherings are all about. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a “Wanderer’s Park”, just like in the suttas/sutras.
To this extent, I’ve set up a Covid-19-inspired, social-distancing-friendly, online “Wanderer’s park”. It’s sort of like WhatsApp, but it isn’t some above-the-law, untrustworthy middleman corporation which is running it (hence privacy is realistically possible). More info here:
I’ve started the process of inviting all past attendees of the WBMC, as well any other monastics who would normally qualify for attendance.
Here’s more “back-story” behind this:
After talking to several fellow monks, and inquiring as to the ways they typically communicate online, what’s been sort of bothering me is how many of these platforms like WhatsApp and Viber require monastics to have a cellular phone number, which their user account is linked to. As in, one’s username is one’s cellular phone number - not just based on, say, an email address. Those services require a (personalized) cellular number, not just an Internet connection (which might be more easily community-shared, and community-regulated in a monastery).
This unfortunately draws monastics into having a smartphone, with an active cellular plan. Which is probably going to be ruinous to their meditation practice, as it’s so portable, and easy to take out and get distracted by (as if laptops in monastery offices weren’t bad enough).
Note: Over these past few months of learning about and using this forum software, I feel confident that it’s now reliable and trustworthy, and something which is no big trouble to keep updated, backed up, and running smoothly. This is set up now, and working now, and I have backups.