The First Internet Post Mentioning Buddhism

I have here a candidate for the first ever post on the internet about Buddhism:

Dated July 16th 1986 and posted on Berkeley’s TelNet system three years before the invention of the World Wide Web, it invited the Internet pioneers to (physically!) mail in their correspondence in order to partake in some mind-expanding “Zenarchy.”

Perhaps it is unsurprising that a 1960s, counterculture expression of Zen would find its way onto the Berkeley network!

But was it really The First Post™️? Does anyone have a dated BBS/ftp post published between (the invention of TCP in) 1982 and this post from '86?

(Of course, any other stories of Buddhism on the early Internet would be appreciated too! I heard that AccessToInsight was originally an ftp server?)


I’m tempted to mail the guy and see if he’s still active.


Wouldn’t alt.religion.buddhism predate that?

Regarding AtoI:

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While Usenet predates even the internet, the “alt.*” top-level heirarchy wasn’t created until 1987.

But reading further, it seems that creating a new space for the discussion of “alternative religions” was part of the inspiration for creating alt.* in the first place, as “net.religion” was becoming unwieldy, so that implies at least some discussion of alternative religions (presumably including Buddhism) was taking place there prior to that date.

Searching the Internet Archive’s (slightly incomplete) archive of net.religion posts, I found that on February 2, 1983 there was this automated repost from Berkeley’s bnews containing the famous (fake) quote from Albert Einstein:

From -7763273745121905597
X-Google-Language: ENGLISH,ASCII-7-bit
X-Google-Thread: 12961d,2b024dce3ede66fb,start
X-Google-Attributes: gid12961d,public
X-Google-ArrivalTime: 1983-02-15 01:16:47 PST
Message-ID: <bnews.cca.4328>
Newsgroups: net.religion
Path: utzoo!decvax!cca!z
X-Path: utzoo!decvax!cca!z
From: cca!z
Date: Tue Feb 15 04:16:44 1983
Subject: Other religions
X-Google-Info: Converted from the original B-News header
Posted: Sat Feb 12 22:17:26 1983
Received: Tue Feb 15 04:16:44 1983

	"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It will
	transcend a personal God and avoid dogma and theology.  Covering
	both the natural and spiritual, it will be based on a religious
	sense arising from the experience of all things natural and
	spiritual as a meaningful unity.  Buddhism answers this
	description.  If there is a any religion that can cope with
	modern scientific needs, it is Buddhism."
						-- Albert Einstein

Which is pretty ironic as a first post :joy: CC @Bodhipaksa


And somehow even less surprising that the foundations of the internet bring you the most mind-blowingly stupid interpretation of Zen :tm: that you’ll ever hear. Sounds like they read The Dice Man on acid.

Is the author this guy?

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I’m not sure… It does bring up the interesting question of whether this guy ever crossed paths with Brian Eno:thinking:

But yes, hardly Zen. The community (and that hot dog bun bit in particular) would go on to become an important part of Pastafarianism… With the slightly more “serious” Discordians joining the “Chaos Magic” community (citation)

But I’m still laughing that the actual first post was a cross post… of a fake quote :rofl: The more things change…


I remember downloading John Bullit’s text files of Bodhi leaves.

He anticipated something like HTML and the web so he made his own markup system for formatting.

It seems like the WWW didn’t come around until the mid 90s.

The earliest Buddhist discussion forums I remember ( complete with emotional arguments and trolls, how ironic ) were on Usenet via talk.religion.buddhism and the listserv hosted by Access To Insight, moderated by Jim Lassen Williams.


There is a discussion group called “zen” on a large web site. For years the moderators of that group have promoted the idea that zen is not Buddhism, despite ‘zen’ being short for “Zen Buddhism”.

When I was a child I would hear adults around my grandparents’ age say “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers”.

There needs to be a catchy saying like that for the Internet.

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There kind of is

Brought to you by PBS Kids

To me, lying implies an intent to deceive. I talked with moderators of /r/zen, as wrong as they are they really do believe “zen” is distinct from Zen Buddhism.

Thanks for this. Even though this quote doesn’t purport to be from the Buddha I really ought to have it on my Fake Buddha Quotes site.