Blessings of Cyberspace
Cyberspace is a dimension of space sustained by networked computers designed to extend the power of the mind. Remarkably, the Internet often appears almost mystically to have a life of its own that is more than the sum of its parts. Mental projections can of course yield both positive and negative uses and results.
Tibetan Buddhism, known for its mastery of the mind, has an area of concentration called "tantra" that specializes in bringing spiritual motivation to the realm of mental projections. In using the Internet we noticed that the Net breeds both positive and negative behaviors, reflecting the very human nature of we who use it. In this sense it became apparent that the space known as cyberspace was very appropriate for a tantric spiritual blessing -- to help purify how it is used and the results, or effects it yields.
We turned to the monks of Namgyal Monastery, the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama, to discuss whether the blessing of cyberspace would be possible. They enthusiastically responded, noting that one tantric system in particular, the Kalachakra Tantra, believed to have been first taught by the Buddha, would be highly appropriate as a blessing vehicle because it especially emphasizes space itself (along with consciousness), as one of the six constituent elements of the universe, in addition to the more familiar elements of earth, air, fire and water. Coincidentally, the Kalachakra is also the most widely disseminated of the Tibetan Buddhist tantric systems, often being offered to over 100,000 people at a time when it is presented by the Dalai Lama in South Asia.
In the monks' view, cyberspace resembles space in general, which Tibetan Buddhists characterize more as the absence of obstructions than as a distance between two points. Also, cyberspace, like ordinary space, can be defined as something that cannot in and of itself be seen or measured, yet which can be conceptualized and used. That is, it has no inherent existence for its own part, yet it exists as a field for mental activity.
Where there is an absence of obstructions, there is the potential for something to arise, the nature of which depends on the motivation of those who use it. In blessing cyberspace, the monks reasoned, they could offer prayers that the motivation of Internet users become more positive and that the benefits of using the Internet become more positive.
February 8th was chosen as the first time to offer the blessing of cyberspace because of the "24 Hours in Cyberspace" event. We reasoned that at this time worldwide consciousness on the Internet might be heightened somewhat due to the international publicity attendant to it. The actual ceremony took about thirty minutes and consisted of the monks chanting blessing prayers from the Kalachakra tantra while envisioning space as cyberspace, the networked realm of computers, in their imagination. An image of the Kalachakra mandala, actually a scanned photo of a sand painting made earlier by the monks, was present on a computer as a visual aid, but was not considered essential to the power of the blessing. Future cyberspace blessings will likely be offered at other auspicious times, depending on how our understanding of this interesting new mental realm evolves.
As the monks put it themselves
We pray to reduce the negative things that may happen in cyberspace and to increase the positive things....
When we bless something, we are seeking to change its disposition -- to eliminate negative things that come from that particular object -- and we generate the motivation that the use of that object will be very positive and beneficial. When we recite prayers, we meditate on the power of the prayer and the meaning of things in our imagination. These two go out focused on the object, including invisible objects, like space. This is possible because it is happening in our minds.
The person using the Internet has the choice. Whether the Internet becomes material for happiness or for suffering depends on your mind. The mind goes before the external object.
Such blessings are very dependent on both sides. For the person who does the prayer, the most important thing is motivation and an altruistic mind. The person who receives the blessing needs from their side a very strong faith and belief in positive things. If these two come together, there is no kind of prayer that will not yield a beneficial result.
When we say prayers, we pray that everyone who uses the object have a good motivation and as a result of that motivation be beneficial for other people -- and not be harmful for others. People have to believe they are receiving a blessing from us. They have to have strong faith.
Translation of the Recorded Chanting
May all beings have happiness and its causes.
May all beings be separated from suffering and its causes.
May all beings never be separated from happiness.
May all beings have equanimity toward the eight worldly dharmas.*
May people be happy and their years be blessed.
May the crops grow well and may religion prosper.
I pray that all happiness arises for everyone.
And that whatever they desire shall come to pass.