By Dr. Alexander Berzin | Founder & Author of Berzin Archives
A stupa in Ladakh, India
We have come to the end of a very challenging year, one that has been filled with war and climate disasters, a refugee crisis, disrupted global supply chains, inflation and let’s not forget Covid. These challenges have presented us with a great opportunity to apply what we have learned from our study of Buddhism to our daily lives. More and more we come to realize that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s repeated message of the oneness of humanity is the key to our survival. If we are to remain mindful of one teaching, this is the one.
We are all one in the sense that we are all interdependent, with everyone equally wanting to be happy and equally not wanting to be unhappy. In addition, we are all dependent on each other to achieve these goals. But how to achieve them? Our welfare and our difficulties both arise dependently on millions of factors, never just from one source alone. Whatever happens in the world, in one way or another, affects us all. We are all in this together and so any strategy we adopt needs to encompass everyone in its scope.
The realization of the oneness of humanity leads naturally to the development of universal compassion. Developing universal compassion is the key to finding realistic strategies for dealing with these universal problems. The important point is that for us be free of all of these problems ourselves requires that everyone else be free of them too. That means we need to equally include in the scope of our compassion those who make war and the victims of war, those who fight voluntarily and those who are forced to fight against their will, those who have had to flee their homes and those who have provided them with a haven, those who pollute the planet and those who suffer illnesses from this pollution, and even those who spread disinformation and those who believe it. The list goes on and on until we fill the entire world with our compassion.
Understanding and accepting the reality of the situation and extending our compassion universally provides us with the inner strength and courage to face these global challenges. I often think about our Study Buddhism web developer, who lives in Ukraine, sometimes with no electricity, water or heat. I recently wrote him how much I admire his courage to deal with the difficulties he’s facing. His reply was, “We have no choice!”
Remember, none of us is facing the challenges of our times alone. We are each a small part of the entirety of humanity, and we all are equally living through our times. As the saying goes, “There is strength in numbers.” By helping each other, with understanding and compassion, we will surely bring about a better world.
On this note, let me wish you a safe and healthy holiday season. I hope that the new year brings with it newfound hope and strength in your Dharma practice.
In terms of our year at Study Buddhism, we are sending out mail more frequently. As we are continually adding new material to the website, the twice-a-month emails will highlight new and interesting articles and videos. In early 2023, we will launch two new projects: machine generated audio versions of our articles and recommended reading lists. Since spring 2022, we've been perfecting audio articles using the latest in AI technology. Initially, you'll see audio clips in the What Is and How To sections, and then over the months, you'll find the possibility of listening to our articles popping up across the website. Next up, we've created recommended reading lists covering almost the entire range of Buddhist philosophy, religion, and science. The reading lists will be available to members only, but fear not - it's completely free and only takes a minute to create a Study Buddhism member account: sign up here.
Now, let me share with you some of our achievements and statistics from the past year. Over 2022, we have had more than 1,100,000 unique users of the website, which is up 10% compared to 2021. These visitors have read over 2.5 million articles in our 32 languages. 27.5% of users read our content in English, while 72.5% of readers absorbed our content in our 31 other languages. English is our top language, followed by Russian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Tibetan, Chinese, Italian, French, Mongolian, and Indonesian.
Over the course of the year, we have added more than 1,000 new articles in all of our languages, which means that we now have 13,500 articles on the website. Astoundingly, this year alone, our readers have spent the equivalent of 3055 days studying the Dharma on Studybuddhism.com. Altogether, we worked on and produced more than 3000 new translations of articles and subtitles, which comes to more than 8 every single day.
Our social media community has continued to grow, with our Facebook page and newly-launched Instagram account performing well. For both accounts combined, we now have 52,000 followers who have seen our content 3.5 million times and watched over 700,000 minutes of the over 50 videos we have posted. This year, our YouTube channel far exceeded expectations, and we reached three exciting milestones. We zoomed past 50,000 followers, reached 3,000,000 views in total, and got 1,000,000 views alone in 2022. Incredibly, our viewers spent the equivalent of 1180 days watching our video content on YouTube. Meanwhile, as pandemic-related rules were relaxed across much of the world, we took the opportunity to interview a range of teachers. We're excited to bring you these new video interviews in 2023.
Over on SoundCloud, we’ve had a 14% increase in followers, along with plenty of people downloading our content to listen to offline. Our top listeners are in León in Mexico, Bangkok in Thailand, Toronto in Canada, Heidelberg in Germany, and Des Moines in the USA.
All of our work, from maintaining the website and creating new material, to producing video content and translating thousands of subtitles and articles, relies upon you, the public, and your donations. So, I wish to thank you all for your continuing support. Please share with your loved ones and friends our project, or anyone who might be interested in the wisdom of Tibet but does not know of our website and might like to help support our work. Together we shall “Make the Ageless Wisdom of Tibet Available to All.”