NOT CHARLIE BROWN

A Chinese temple built a robot monk to spread the teachings of Buddhism

This tiny robot monk could teach you something about Buddhism. Its name is Xian’er and it can perform a range of tasks, shown in the video above.

Xian’er disseminates Buddhist wisdom on behalf of Longquan (Dragon Spring) Temple in Beijing. Built over 1,000 years ago, this ancient sanctuary has grown into the most tech-savvy Buddhist temple in China. It promotes the collaboration of religion and technology—contrary to the traditional belief that Buddhists should be very secluded.

Some of its study rooms even have fingerprint recognition systems (link in Chinese). That’s partly because it is a popular destination for well-educated youths in China who want to become monks. Among them are PhDs from Tsinghua University, China’s MIT.

Besides meeting visitors in person, Xian’er “runs” a social media account on Wechat, China’s most popular messaging app. It also teaches people about Buddhism through zen dialogues and cute cartoons. Xian’er proves to be as smart as a real and experienced monk:

Q: “How old are you?”

Xian’er: “Robots don’t have an age.”

Q: “What is Buddhism?”

Xian’er: “Everything is Buddhism.”

 

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