At Princeton University in 2010, Geshe Michael Roach talked about a karmic result of his three-year retreat:
I went into three year retreat [3/2000 to 6/2003]… and then when I came out, I asked the people taking care of me … “Can I have a laptop? … It doesn’t even have a floppy disk drive. Where do you put the floppy disk? … How do you get a file from one place to another? What do you do if you can’t send a floppy disk in the mail, in an envelope?” She’s like, “Geshe-hla, I’ve got to tell you about this thing called the internet.” And I’m like, “What’s internet?” And she said, “Well, it’s a new way to send stuff to people, like you would just send a file across the internet … “God, it must cost a fortune” … “How long does it take to get there? How many days after you send it does the person get it?” She’s looking at me like I’m crazy. “No, Geshe-hla, you don’t understand, you send an email, they get it like 30 seconds later, 10 seconds later.” And I’m like, “That must be very expensive.” “No, Geshe-hla, you don’t understand, it’s free … you can send a message to anybody in the world for free, instantaneously” … We would say that the seeds of being in a deep retreat created the internet for me, OK? We’d say that the intention with which we started a thousand days of practice, you know, we were trying to do something good for the world, we were trying to help the world, so then the result of that is that I come out and there’s this thing called the internet.
While it is questionable whether the retreat helped anyone, it is clear that the internet was not the karmic ripening of 3 years spent unplugged from the world. In fact, Geshe Michael already knew about the internet long before going into retreat.
… “You don’t get rich from safe investments”, that’s not true. I mean, lots of mutual, you know, I mean, lot’s of big corporations make safe investments, then suddenly they turn around and go wild and, you know. If you made a safe investment in the internet or something two years ago, if there’s such a thing, you know. But what’s the answer?
From an article in Wired Magazine, volume 2 No. 8 of August 1994, the Dalai Lama’s government was already using email, and Geshe Michael was well aware of the sharing and linking nature of the internet:
When someone associated with the University of New Mexico took the liberty of posting the CD-ROM data on the Internet, the monks at Sera Mey were overjoyed. “It’s very exciting, the idea of nobody owning it now. Once it’s on the Internet, how can you stop it?” Roach smiles and shrugs. … Roach is especially excited by the prospect of creating hypertext environments for Buddhist scripture, and points out that Tibetan commentaries already anticipate the nests and links of hypertext.
… Even the Dalai Lama’s central Tibetan administration in Dharamsala has an e-mail address …
Update: “I lied, I do lie… Why, why is it that we’re still lying, why is it that I’m still lying after … twenty years of Buddhist education? It’s, it’s your instincts. It is your instincts…and it is because I didn’t study well enough, or I didn’t meditate on what I knew.” – GMR, ACI Course 1, 1993
“Be truthful. Don’t lie; and lying means giving someone else an impression about things that you yourself know not to be true.” – GMR, Karmic Management, 2009
Related post: An eye for the Divine Who were the enlightened ladies of the first retreat?