Author Topic: Robot Monk  (Read 8403 times)


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Robot Monk
« on: August 28, 2016, 06:27:57 AM »
Compassionate Buddhist teachers are always thinking of new methods to reach out to others. Since many people are glued to social media and electrical gadgets, I think it's a refreshing way to teaching Buddhism using a robot. Please read the article below from The Guardian.

"In an unexpected synthesis of ancient and modern, a Buddhist temple on the edge of Beijing has developed a robot monk who can chant mantras and and explain basic tenets of faith.

At 2ft high, Xian’er is encased in saffron-yellow robes and has a shaved head. Despite spending much of his time closeted in the spiritual calm of Longquan Temple, he wears an expression of permanent surprise.

His purpose is to reach out to people who are more connected to their smartphones than their inner being. Xian’er can answer 20 simple questions, displayed on the touch-screen on his chest, about Buddhism and daily life at the 500-year-old temple.

Master Xianfian, a (human) monk at Longquan and Xian’er’s creator, said artificial intelligence could be harnessed to spread Buddhist wisdom in China.

“Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” he told Reuters.

Buddhism filled a gap in a fast-paced, hi-tech existence, he added. “Buddhism is something that attaches much importance to inner heart, and pays attention to the individual’s spiritual world … I think it can satisfy the needs of many people.”

Xian’er was developed as a robot in a joint project between the temple, artificial intelligence experts at Chinese universities and a technology company.

Since he was created, he has appeared at several robotic fairs across China, but spends most of his time in deep meditation on an office shelf in Longquan.

He started his existence as a cartoon drawn by Xianfian when he joined the temple in 2011. Xianfian described Xian’er as “a reflection of innovative Buddhist spirit … [who] might help traditional Buddhism reach a wider public more easily.”

Master Xuecheng, the head of Longquan and president of the Buddhist Association of China, is a digital communication enthusiast.

“Buddhists should not only seek enlightenment through daily learning, meditation and cultivation to gain positive energy from Buddhist doctrine. They should also contribute more to society, by transforming their own gains, kindness, compassion and wisdom to others through the internet and new media,” he told CCTV." - Harriet Sherwood


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Re: Robot Monk
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 07:39:53 PM »
Wow, this is really cool. A robot monk. However, I think this will never be possible for the case of the Vajrayana practice. Simple reason, in the Vajrayana tradition, the teacher will teach and change the methods to suit the students. Thus, if this role is being placed on the shoulders of a robot, the robot will not be able to properly analyse what is going on and to properly guide the student to the path of enlightenment.

However, to have such a gadget to practice and learn Buddhism from is something that is really fun. It can even be way to bring more people to dharma as they will find this interesting and pursue dharma for the sake of fun at first.

Thank you for sharing such an interesting news.


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Re: Robot Monk
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2016, 10:18:50 AM »
Thank you Klein for this article.
This robot shares Buddhism in a new way and I think it may touch  mostly young people by the fun way to approach Buddhist teachings.

I found a youtube video with the little monk! Looks cute!


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Re: Robot Monk
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2016, 04:59:56 AM »
This is interesting!

More people are seeking Buddhism to seek peace and in this fast paced digital world, this cute and adorable robot monk spreading Buddha’s Teachings will appeal to the younger generation.

Thank you, Klien, for sharing this post!


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Re: Robot Monk
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2016, 05:40:52 PM »
Thank you Klein for sharing this interest report on the Robot Monk. Thank you Pema8 for sharing the link on youtube. The robot is so cute and definitely will be a good draw for the people, especially the young to visit the monastery and in the process have the opportunity to pick up Dharma lessons. I like the expression of surprise on the robot monk's face. It's as though he is discover something surprising. Just as Buddha had taught us to be curious and ask until we are satisfied with the answer, the robot monk looked surprised by the answers. The monks like Master Xuecheng, Xianfian and Xian’er are progressive in using the technology to bring Dharma to the people of China whom had been religionless for such a long time during the revolution period. May the Dharma flourish in China.