Recently, on my local sangha’s Facebook page – which has a rather large world-wide reach thanks to a viral post we had back in April of 2016 (which I still sometimes get notifications about!) – I posted the above meme.
Two people posted a comment on the meme and one person responded to one of the comments.
First comment: Never? I doubt that.
Second comment: Yeah right, you are being abused and the suffering is caused by yourself 🙄 These kind of statements are dangerous and can cause self centerdness and even more suffering.
Someone’s response to second comment: I think it’s trying to say, whats the use in blaming someone?
It’s worth mentioning that while we have quite a substantial reach per daily post that I put up on our sangha’s FB page, considering how small of a sangha group we are here in western Montana, we don’t get a whole lot of action on the commenting front (which I’m grateful for). But once in a while we do get comments like the ones above, which I never respond to, as I do not regard the platform of FB as a place to have intelligent and thoughtful dialog or discourse. On rare occasions when the comments and responses get over-heated, I simply delete the post. But typically no moderation on my part is needed.
However, I do really appreciate seeing people’s comments of disagreement when I post a quote they do not understand and/or agree with. It helps to give me a greater sense of how things are landing for people and where the possible common hitches of understanding the Dharma exist.
The thing about Dharma memes is that they are so whittled down that when read they can have the great tendency to be taken the wrong way, especially by new or non-practitioners. Rather than engage with the teaching quotes through the lens of practice, taking the time necessary to digest and reflect on the spirit of what’s being shared, people can easily read them with the quick-scan approach to social media scrolling and regard them too literally and/or too intellectually. The quote is then automatically seen as combative and adverse to a person’s world-view without giving it a second thought.
And this makes a lot of sense.
As humans, we are forever kicking up a fuss when someone says something that doesn’t align with our current way of seeing things. This is nothing new.
So, what to do? Well. I suppose I could stop posting memes. But that hardly seems like the best approach. I could start trying to craft responses back when it’s clear the meme has created suffering for someone, but I have very little faith that will actually yield in being of benefit, even if I do my very best in coming up with a thoughtful, caring response.
I think I will simply steady on with what I’m already doing: investing time and energy in finding what I see are good quality memes from good quality teachers; not moderating or deleting comments of disagreement when they arise unless they get too over-heated; and doing my best to offer the Dharma in a way that is most approachable and of service to others.
There will always be people who take the teachings opposite of how they are intended, though it is my dearest hope that I can help minimize that to the very best of my ability.