The Diamond Sutra, the World's Oldest Printed Book

The Buddhist Channel, October 9, 2023

London, United Kingdom -- Nestled within the British Library resides a relic of profound historical significance: a Chinese copy of the Diamond Sutra, a sacred Buddhist text, printed over 1,100 years ago.

This scroll, commissioned by a mysterious figure named Wang Jie in 868 A.D., stands as a testament to the ancient art of printing and its role in disseminating wisdom.

The origins of the Diamond Sutra trace back to the remote outpost of Dunhuang, China, situated along the Silk Road's fringes near the Gobi Desert. In 1900, a monk unearthed this Sanskrit text, translated into Chinese, within the confines of the "Cave of a Thousand Buddhas," a hidden library containing 40,000 scrolls and documents. Fearing the incursions of neighboring kingdoms, the library had been sealed around the year 1,000, concealing its treasures for centuries.

Enter British-Hungarian archaeologist Marc Aurel Stein, who, in 1907, learned of this secret trove during an expedition aimed at mapping the ancient Silk Road. Stein employed subterfuge and bribery to spirit away thousands of documents, including the Diamond Sutra, from the guardianship of the monastic order overseeing the cave.

Today, the International Dunhuang Project is engaged in digitizing these invaluable manuscripts, offering access to scholars and enthusiasts worldwide.

The Diamond Sutra itself is relatively concise, spanning a mere 6,000 words. It belongs to the Mahayana Buddhist canon, the predominant branch of Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Within its pages, the sutra unfolds as a dialogue between the Buddha's disciple, Subhuti and his revered master.

The sutra's title, "The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion," reveals its profound essence. Susan Whitfield, Director of the Dunhuang Project, explains that the Diamond Sutra serves as a tool to cut through the illusions that cloud our perceptions of the world. It prompts us to recognize the non-duality of existence, challenging our notions of individuality and sentient beings.

But why did Wang Jie commission the printing of this sacred text? In the context of Buddhist belief, duplicating images or words of the Buddha was considered a virtuous act, a means of accumulating merit in Jie's culture. Monks would likely unroll the lengthy scroll and chant the sutra aloud regularly. This early recognition of the benefits of printing technology by Buddhists contributed to the rapid development of printing in China.

While the Diamond Sutra brims with wisdom, one passage, masterfully adapted to English by Bill Porter, also known as "Red Pine," stands out:

"So you should view this fleeting world—
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream."

As the Diamond Sutra continues to illuminate the minds of scholars and spiritual seekers, it remains an enduring testament to the enduring power of ancient wisdom and the art of printing. In a world driven by digital innovation, this 1,100-year-old scroll remains a symbol of enlightenment and the enduring quest for truth.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: