So Robin over at The Dharma Bums is worried that her blog "has no direction or purpose," and wonders if they should change the name because it rightly belongs to Kerouac. I say no. I say they have earned the name with their wonderful ramblings through life and nature, their astute observations with both word and camera, the love their blog puts out into the world. I say they are the rightful owners of the name they have chosen to adopt.
In an offline exchange of emails--I'm sure she won't mind my sharing this--Robin worried about the way we risk hiding our humanity behind our blogs, that the virtual "community" can become a way of NOT sharing our humanity, but rather sacrificing it to the seduction of a few electronic impulses. I do see what she means. For myself, though, I see The Buddha Diaries as another, rather special way of sending out metta into the world. It thrills me that I have readers who check in from every continent--I even have a world map above the desk in my office, where colored pins show the locations of visitors and readers. At this point, it's a veritable pincushion. A kind of vanity, I suppose, but it delights me. It gives me the sense of the potential outreach of this metta I send out, and I believe that The Dharma Bums send out metta of their own, their own goodwill and loving-kindness, along with all those other like-minded bloggers who are dedicated to the examination of their lives in the context of the world we're given to live in. To be even a small part of this global chorus is, for me, enough purpose and direction.
I do think of it, too, as a community. I understand that it is no substitute for personal, human contact. In my own daily metta practice, as an essential part of meditation, after family, I never fail to include three groups of people: the members of our Sunday sangha, our little meditation group; the artists that Ellie and I meet with in our monthly "Artists' Matters" sessions; and the men I have worked with over the years in The ManKind Project. I send out metta, too, to those fellow bloggers I have come to think of as a community. While I have met none of you "in the flesh," you keep showing me new parts of your heart and spirit every time you write, and I value what I read.
So, Robin, if you'll forgive this direct address, you and Roger ARE the Dharma Bums to me. I do hope that you'll not change names, but the name matters less than the spirit behind what you do. That's something I'd be really sorry to lose.