Those Buddhists who don't have much access to RL Buddhist groups generally seem nicer, while those who have both RL and online access tend to be less so. The latter sometimes have the attitude that "online Buddhism doesn't really count" and behave as if karma doesn't operate online (so they can be mean online while IRL they have to be more careful?).
And, to be clear, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, not yet. Maybe there is a method, a purpose to the contempt that those Buddhists who have access to Buddhist groups both online as well as IRL sometimes show for those who don't have so many options IRL. Perhaps those who don't have relatively convenient access to Buddhist groups and teachers IRL should distance themselves from Buddhism altogether, as they are clearly not fit for it, don't have the necessary karma for it.
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Should people who don't have relatively convenient access to Buddhist groups and teachers IRL distance themselves from Buddhism altogether?
On the whole not correct, there are many nice RL Buddhists online but ..
What I have found is those with lot of access to RL Buddhism
(lot of stress on the lot of access
) are sometimes incapable of independent thought and more spoon fed while those who have learned Buddhism by themselves have learned to interpret it better. RL Buddhists on the whole tend to believe that the Buddhist Nikayas are pristine and monolithic, absolutely as Buddha had said it .. as if what was said in 400 BCE was inscribed in titanium plates, put into a time capsule and dug up in 1980.
But Buddhism began to split from 400 BCE, 84 years after death of Buddha. Here is a short account of the splits within the original sangha before Mahayana --
Serious quarrels arose amongst his disciples or rather amongst the successive generations of the disciples of his disciples about his doctrines and other monastic rules which he had enjoined upon his followers. Thus we find that when the council of Vesāli decided against the Vrjin monks, called also the Vajjiputtakas, they in their turn held another great meeting (Mahāsaṅgha) and came to their own decisions about certain monastic rules and thus came to be called as the Mahāsaṅghikas. According to Vasu-mitra as translated by Vassilief, the Mahāsaṅghikas seceded in 400 B.C. and during the next one hundred years they gave rise first to the three schools Ekavyavahārikas, Lokottaravādins, and Kukkulikas and after that the Bahuśrutīyas. In the course of the next one hundred years, other schools rose out of it namely the Prajñaptivādins, Caittikas, Aparaśailas and Uttaraśailas.
The Theravāda or the Sthaviravāda school which had convened the council of Vesāli developed during the second and first century B.C. into a number of schools, viz. the Haimavatas, Dharmaguptikas, Mahīśāsakas, Kāśyapīyas, Saṅkrāntikas (more well known as Sautrāntikas)and the Vātsiputtrīyas which latter was again split up into the Dharmottarīyas, Bhadrayānīyas, Sammitīyas and Chan-nāgarikas. The main branch of the Theravāda school was from the second century downwards known as the Hetuvādins or Sarvāstivādins. The Mahābodhivamsa identifies the Theravāda school with the Vibhajjavādins. The commentator of the Kathāvatthu who probably lived according to Mrs Rhys Davids sometime in the fifth century A.D. mentions a few other schools of Buddhists. But of all these Buddhist schools we know very little. Vasumitra (100 A.D.) gives us some very meagre accounts of certain schools, of the Mahāsaṅghikas, Lokottaravādins, Ekavya-vahārikas, Kukkulikas, Prajñaptivādins and Sarvāstivādins, but these accounts deal more with subsidiary matters of little philosophical importance.
A History of Indian Philosophy Vol I, Surendranath Dasgupta
Also see the diagram Twenty Sects of Hinayana
Any person in their right mind would doubt if the suttas at all survived these schisms intact or if some were lost or suppressed.
Online Buddhists have greater power to fill in the blanks, greater capability of critical thought while RL Buddhists because they attend a particular monastery or Ajahn's teachings will hold on to obvious flaws.
RL Buddhists probably feel slightly threatened by the rebellious nature of online Buddhists (because online Buddhists figure out a whole lot more .. be it right or wrong) and thus seem less nice to the latter.
What adds fuel to the fire is ehipassiko
-- the Buddha encouraging his disciples to "come and see" his teachings for themselves -- which gives license to the thought that my interpretation is as valid as your interpretation no matter if I am studying it for two years and you are a famous Ajahn's disciple for ten.
But this is by no means restricted to Buddhists .. Any autodidact is chided and censured. The very fact that you have taught yourself 1,000 pages of a subject by your own effort without help of an Ajahn or without any guidance is its own reward. Why compare yourself with RL Buddhists?
Note -- Venerables who write in Dhammawheel are not included in my description of RL Buddhists. Elsewhere I have commented that Western Bhantes living in Thailand who contribute to DW display an exceptionally strong grasp of Dhamma .. probably because they learned from scriptures as well as from Asian teachers and did not study it in a vaccum, devoid of the cultural context that Western RL Buddhists do.
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus