The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBAI), in collaboration with the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM), convened an online meeting on 26 August to discuss the dissemination of the Buddhadharma through traditional media and social media platforms. During the session, YBAI members and samanera (novice monks) shared insights on coping with toxic online activity and addressing concerns related to thoughts of self-harm.
Two senior Buddhist journalists from Malaysia were present, along with two Buddhist content creators from Indonesia. The four shared their experiences in disseminating the Buddhist teachings through the various channels in which they were engaged.
The editor of Eastern Horizon, Benny Liow provided insights into this non-academic publication from YBAM, a non-profit and non-sectarian organization. With a focus on emphasizing Dharma practice in daily life, Eastern Horizon faces several challenges. These include a diminished interest in reading and finding ways to present content that is relevant and appealing to various age groups. “However, the prospects for this publication are growing with the help of technology and the presence of digital formats (e-magazines) to reach a wider audience at the global level,” Liow said.
Dato Keoh Lean Cheaw, chairperson of Pu Ai Komuniti and editor of Buddhist Digest magazine and Yu Hu children’s magazine, explained that the Buddhist Digest had been in circulation since 1972. The main aim of the Buddhist Digest, he said, was to spread the Buddhadharma through Buddhist articles from various countries—especially China and Taiwan. “In keeping with the times, Buddhist Digest is not only a print publications, there is also a digital version with attractive and high-quality designs to appeal to the youth,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samanera Abhisarano, lecturer of the STAB Kertarajasa Buddhist studies program, explained that his organization had two projects aimed at spreading the Buddhist teachings: the Kertajasa Podcast and GoMindful ID YouTube channels.
“The purpose of the Kertajasa Podcast channel is to bring the Buddhist teachings to a wider community, with a focus on applying Buddhist principles in everyday life. This is more common in the fundamental Buddhist teachings. Whereas GoMindful ID is more focused on meditation,” emphasized the samanera.
He also shared tips on dealing with toxic internet activity, noting that in his role of managing several YouTube channels, he was targeted with comments about his appearance, specifically being called “bald” multiple times. The samanera said comments like this were interesting and a useful exercise for cultivating patience and resilience. Moreover, he found them intriguing because they could spark new discussions. These comments often prompted him and his team to offer more comprehensive explanations on subjects that might be unclear to some viewers.
“So toxic people on social media are actually providing the feedback that is the most useful for us,” Samanera Abhisarano said. “If it weren’t for them, our channel wouldn’t develop. It’s things like this that make our content more viral. That’s why it can be useful to address sensitive topics that draw more engagement.”
On the other hand, he noted, toxic engagement can also be a warning to the content manager that there are limitations around what can be discussed, no matter how true. “So we use these engagements as a source of inspiration and information for future content. . . . we should not be afraid of such people; in fact they are very valuable treasures to us,” he explained.
The chairperson of the Publications Committee of the Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia, Jessclyn Tjandra, acknowledged that if there were toxic users who refused to communicate properly, he and his team would take firm action so that the message being conveyed was not undermined. “But if we can still be find a way to work toward discussion and it’s not too bad, of course we’ll be more tolerant,” he said.
Tjandra confirmed that the YBAI was an association of young Buddhists who appreciated social media and shared the Dharma through social media, and as such the YBAI was very willing to embrace different people and points of view, and was ready to collaborate with anyone, anywhere. “We are not only a platform for uploading and sharing content, but also a place for all groups to share and seek counsel,” he said.
Tjandra gave an example of one of his followers who had talked about some of the problems in his life and had even considered suicide. The team had immediately responded and received the follower at a nearby monastery for deeper counseling.
“In essence, what I want to convey on this occasion is that the print media, such as magazines, and the social media that we run will continue to collaborate and continue to go hand in hand with spreading Buddhism and spreading compassion,” he concluded.
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia
Young Buddhist Association (YBA) of Indonesia (Instagram)
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (Facebook)
Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia
Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia 马来西亚佛教青年总会 (Facebook)
STAB Kertarajasa (YouTube)
GoMindful ID (YouTube)
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