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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
58 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2015 classes for four or five years now, and it’s taken me some time to find my own voice. But I’d say the big- gest influence on my teaching has been the students I’ve taught. The majority of my teaching career was in the Deep South, in Tennessee, where I had to speak from a place of relevancy. I still teach from the perspective of asking, “How do I make what I’m going to say relevant for the people who are sit- ting in this room right now?” BuDDHADHARMA: Does technology play a role in how any of you are teaching? NINA LA ROSA: I live in Burlington, Vermont, which is too far for many people who’d like to practice with me to travel, so I use email, phone, and Google Hangout for long-distance work. But even in my local community teaching, the sangha meetings I lead are available for people to join in via Google Hangout. I think it’s so important to use all the tools we have available to make the teachings more accessible for people to connect to a sangha and experience community remotely, especially if they can’t do so otherwise. ROD OWENS: Facebook has recently become an important tool for me around practice questions. I’m not sharing dharma itself as much as the issues that I’m struggling to think about in terms of dharma. It’s important for people to see that I’m not just a Buddhist; I also still occupy different identities that are meaningful for me and that help me deepen my wisdom and connections to other people. You won’t see posts about what I’m hav- ing for dinner or how my day was—you’ll see posts about how I practice with racism or gender violence or trans violence or poverty, because these are the issues we have to bring into our sanghas and create a space to dialogue around. DAVE SMITH: Aside from connecting for this discus- sion, I rarely use technology for dharma purposes. I’m glad that people take advantage of it, but I try to minimize the amount of time I spend in front of a digital screen. I also don’t learn well that way, so I don’t do online training or courses. Something that was both interesting and a bit upsetting to me at our Gen X conference was how much everybody needed to be online. All these peo- ple came in, registered, and then their first question was, “Is there Wi-Fi?” The addiction to technology is totally insane. I like to stay away from the com- puter as much as possible but still find myself using one more than I would like. BuDDHADHARMA: It would seem that there are still very few dharma teachers from Generation X. Why do you think that is? TENKu RuFF: I think there are many contributing factors. In the West, our Zen teachers tend to take longer to officially authorize students to teach than they do in Japan. Also, priests in the U.S. often ordain later in life, after retiring from secular careers. Finally, we need to take a deep and honest look at what factors prevent younger-generation students from completing priest training. ROD OWENS: Because the training in my tradition is so difficult to complete, we don’t produce a lot of teachers. Many practitioners who attend our tradi- tional three-year retreats do so because they want to deepen their practice, but that aspiration does not necessarily include being a formal, authorized teacher. For those of us who do want to teach, (Above) Dave Smith and Jessica Morey, (Right) Bodhipaksa addresses the group