Decarbonize Buddhism: Use Broadband Internet Instead of Flying

Proposal to Use Broadband Internet to Meet with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche Instead of Air Travel

Problem: Air travel is costly, financially and environmentally

Current and prospective members of the sangha cannot—or will not—travel by air to attend retreats where they could meet Rinpoche and benefit from speaking with him in person. Many members cannot afford expensive air travel, staying at a hotel, and other expenses related to long distance travel. Others choose not to travel by air because it produces excessive carbon emissions, which increases global warming.

When sangha members are repeatedly left out of personal meetings with Rinpoche, it creates two classes of members and students, those who are rich enough to fly to retreats to benefit from Rinpoche’s presence, and those who never have that kind of access. If ‘sangha retreats’ are only attended by the wealthy, the question becomes then, “who is the Sangha?”

Solution: Use Broadband Internet to arrange for Rinpoche to meet live-in-person with members of the Sangha who do not travel by air to retreats.

  1. There are several broadband internet services that allow people to ‘meet up’ in a live, real time setting, with both visual and audio connection, from locations around the globe. These services range from basic low-cost systems to very technologically advanced systems that are more costly.
  2. Many people in North America and the developed world have some kind of home-based broadband internet service that can take advantage of these services.
  3. Public institutions, such as universities and public libraries, have the technological capacity for broadband internet meetings, and offer them to the public at low cost. For those who don’t have home-based broadband internet (poor and rural residents), broadband meetings could be arranged through these institutions.
  4. It is entirely feasible for Nalandabodhi to arrange meetings with Rinpoche by broadband internet, taking into account his busy schedule. Indeed, Nalandabodhi has pioneered use of ‘Internet 2.0’ to bring Buddhism to the world. A committee should be set up to investigate this proposal and develop a plan of action.
  5. There are signIficant costs related to contracting for these services, especially those that are more reliable and technologically advanced. A fund should be set up to pool resources from the sangha to pay for broadband internet meetings with Rinpoche.
  6. Funds for these services should be derived, in part, from a carbon tax on those members who choose to travel by air to retreats. A fee could be worked out as “dollars per ton” of carbon emissions for those who choose air travel to attend retreats. Additional funds for this service should come from those sangha members who participate in the broadband internet meetings.

In addition to enacting this proposal, I am requesting that Nalandabodhi undertake a carbon emissions footprint study to evaluate the impact of the sangha’s activities on global warming and take steps to reduce impacts its impacts on the environment.

Sincerely,

Shaun Bartone

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