Web 2.0 – Enlightenment

This one’s a bit off-topc, I guess. On TED.com, there is a great video of Buddhist monk and scholar Bob Thurman talking about some core ideas of Buddhism, especially the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. It’s so humorous it really made me “lol”, so I wanted to share it.

Interestingly, Thurman doesn’t evoke a mystic unified mind or spiritual stuff like that, but rather closely relates the idea of enlightment to the insight into the global interconnectedness as enforced by the globalized transformation of knowledge through the web:

“… all the interconnectedness of all the computers and everything, it’s the forging of a mass awareness, of where everybody can really know everything that’s going on everywhere in the planet.

And therefore it will become intolerable — what compassion is, is where it will become intolerable for us, totally intolerable that we sit here in comfort and in pleasure and enjoying the life of the mind or whatever it is, and there are people who are absolutely riddled with disease and they cannot have a bite of food and they have no place or they’re being brutalized by some terrible person and so forth, it just becomes intolerable.”

That just reminds me of Google Earth’s new “global awareness layer” …

As far as I knew (Zen) Buddhism, I always thought it would rather be about letting go of all the knowledge, so this was new to me, because it contains a kind of political utopia of achieving a better world through information access. Of course that’s highly optimistic if not naive, and, of course, the history of the internet always have been the history of its prophets, spreading their tales of how the web will bring global love, peace, and democracy to all of us.

Anyway, I haven’t heard sentences like this by now: “With all of us knowing everything, we’re kind of forced by technology to become Buddhas or something, to become enlightened”, Thurman says, surprisingly proceeding: “And of course, we all will be deeply disappointed when we do.”

Thurman has a really unique esprit. It’s really kind of a stand-up Zen presentation, so enjoy and become enlightened!

Find the video plus a transcript here.

[via Presentation Zen]