Cyberspace Revelations: Tibetan Treasures, InformationTechnology, and the Transnational Reader
he presence of religion on the Internet is a growing phenomenon andonly in America more than 82 million people surf the Web to furthertheir faith.
The global nature of Tibetan Buddhism too in its various mani-festations is well represented on several Internet Websites not only in Amer-ica and Europe, but also in Tibet and China as well.
The number of Ti-betan Buddhist communities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) thatemploy Internet technology to disseminate their activities and interconnecttheir members is increasing.
In the recent years a number of charismaticBuddhist leaders such as Tibetan Treasure revealers
and inde-pendent nonmonastic religious figures currently living in Tibetan areas of the (PRC) such as
noncelibate Tantric professionals
have ap-peared on the Internet with their own Websites.
Taking advantage of the
I would like to express my gratitude to Sarah Jacoby for her support during variousphases of this research and for her patience and expertise in reading and proofreadingvarious versions of this essay.
According to a 2004 report published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project,“64 percent of Web users reported going online to further their faith.” See “Millions of ‘online faithful’ use Internet for religious info, e-mail” and “Faith Online” at http://ww w.pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2004/Millions-of-online-faithful-use-Internet-for-religious-info-email.aspx. For studies on the presence of religion on the Internet see Daw-son (2004), Campbell (2005), Cowan (2005), Højsgaard (2005), Karaflogka (2006),Helland (2006), Jakobsh (2006), among many others.
Due to its sheer size, a detailed account of the presence of Buddhism on the Internetcannot be incorporated as part of this study as it should rather be a study in its ownright. The presence of Buddhist Websites on the Internet is overwhelming and theamount of academic studies of religion on the Internet is a field of magnificent propor-tions. As for Buddhism, however, as a starting point I would suggest beginning with areading of Charles Prebish’s study “The Cybersangha: Buddhism on the Internet” inDawson (2004), pp. 135–147.
For example, in 2001 O rgyan sku gsum gling pa’s www.hungkar.com (recently re-moved from the Web and replaced by www.longensi.com) was the only Chinese lan-guage Buddhist Website of an active Treasure revealer. By 2008 the presence of Treasurerevealers online had already grown, as five other Treasure revealers opted for the use of the Internet to establish a presence in the cyberspace.
Although Treasure revealers are key figures in the history of both the rNying ma school