The conversation started by the Buddha, and carried on by the arhats, pratyekabuddhas, and great teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh is continuing in the form of digital impulses crisscrossing the Earth, reaching into bulletin boards, downloading sutras, and conducting Dharma discussions via email. An entire world of Cyberbuddhism has manifested in the ether, with a population that is growing wildly. And while the jury may still be out on whether ultimately the electronic Buddhist world is a distraction or the possibility of a whole new level of experiencing Dharma, mindfulness practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh is now among the many Buddhist sites being served on the web.
While we were on pilgrimage with Thay in China last summer, Arnie Kotler took note of my enthusiasm for the potential of the web, and we discussed the possibility of creating an interactive website and online bookstore for Parallax Press. Over the past six months I have worked with a team of artists and programmers, notably Jay Cheroske and Jacqueline Neuwirth, to build a "mindful" corner on the web. In June, at the American Booksellers Association conference in Chicago, Parallax Press will launch the web's first contemplative, full-service online bookstore, which will offer all of its books, audio and video tapes, gifts and meditation supplies, in an environment secure for financial transactions. The URL (address) is http://www.parallax.org
Online customers can search or browse, enjoy slideshows of book covers and photos of Thay and Plum Village, tables of contents, sample chapters, and in the atmosphere of a bookstore. Purchases will be shipped within two days of ordering. The site also includes a fully searchable listing of local bookstores in the United States.
The Parallax Press web site also includes the activities of the worldwide Sangha, including a Sangha directory, retreat schedules, and also homes page for Plum Village and the Community of Mindful Living. The online bookstore will be particularly valuable to people around the world who are not close to bookstores that carry Thay's books. Visitors will be greeted by a bell of mindfulness and a guided meditation by Thay.
Dharma digirati and the just plain curious now have access to a voluminous serving of data and discussion, all lending credence to the idea that Buddhism will not be immune to the virtual explosion of human microprocessing power that is rapidly transforming our lives. The web will not be immune to the mindfulness revolution either. Please enjoy your visit to Parallax Press on the worldwide web, and remember to enjoy your breathing.
Allan Hunt Badiner, the editor of Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism and Ecology, created the Parallax Press web site.