With the launching of a website, the Zhung Dratshang is now online.
Information about the institution, and teachings and prayers, among others are available on the website.
The move is expected to increase knowledge about not only the institution and its activities, but on Buddhism and the country’s culture, both within and outside Bhutan.
The Zhung Dratshang’s decision to go online is a significant step that should bring it even closer to society and our younger generations.
While a lot has been done and is being done to ensure our practise of Buddhism stays alive and relevant to the people, with development, there will be challenges.
Challenges include a higher level of education and more pressure to save on expenditure, and thus more questions on the relevancy of some practises or the activities of the institution.
Another challenge is that in a highly connected world, not being online means you’re not aware of questions or opinions of the young, which if left unaddressed, will only send them elsewhere seeking answers to life.
The website is a first step towards addressing these challenges.
It is welcome to know that lopens, and senior and learned monks, will help in writing and gathering information to upload to the website.
However, the next step for the Zhung Dratshang should be to go beyond the website and also onto social media.
While making static information available online will be one important part of the effort, an equally important part of any online strategy will be to attract and interact with an audience.
For this to happen, an online team, composed of young members who are aware of how social media works, should be used.
This team should then be backed up by senior and learned monks who can spare time to answer questions or to even provide counselling, among others.
Another important aspect to having the Zhung Dratshang online will be to debunk unnecessary practises, and false information and rumours, such as predictions of disasters and what not.
There are other ways that online technology can probably be used to make religion more accessible and cost effective. If it can be explored and used in a way that is socially acceptable to both the institution and devotees, we can rest assured that the essence of our way of life will continue.