Buddhist Chatbot as a Liberating Tool of Dharma Learning

by Kooi F. Lim, The Buddhist Channel, 19 Oct 2023

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- The ancient wisdom of Buddhism has found a new medium for dissemination and practice, the Buddhist chatbot. Combining the latest in AI technology with timeless teachings, chatbots such as NORBU (https://norbu-ai.org) have the potential to be liberating tools of Dharma learning.

Dharma learning, particularly within the context of the Pāli canon, is summarized as follows: pariyati, patipati and pativedha.

Pariyati is a Pāli term that refers to the study of Buddhism as contained within the suttas of the Pāli canon. It is the theoretical understanding of the Buddha's teachings. Patipati is related to the practical application of the teachings of Buddhism. It refers to the act of putting the theory into practice. Pativedha, on the other hand, refers to the experiential realisation of the truth of the teachings. It is about penetrating the theory or rather experientially realising the truth of it.

These three terms are interconnected, representing the study, practice, and realisation of the Buddha's teachings. Here, we explore how a Buddhist chatbot such as NORBU can facilitate these three learning processes and - with one more addition - sharing of the Dharma.

Study (pariyati)

NORBU or any good Buddhist chatbots can serve as invaluable study companions for those embarking on their Dharma journey. They provide access to a vast repository of Buddhist texts, teachings and historical context. With the touch of a button, one can access the Tipitaka (the Pali Canon) or the Mahayana sutras, gaining insights into the Buddha's profound wisdom.

Furthermore, users of NORBU has discovered that the chatbot can personalize learning experiences. They can assess a practitioner's level of understanding and recommend appropriate texts or lessons. This adaptability ensures that the material is neither too daunting for beginners nor too simplistic for advanced practitioners. Learners can study at their own pace, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the Dharma.

Practice (patipati)

The Dharma is not mere intellectual knowledge but a path to be practiced. NORBU can guide users in their practice by offering meditation instructions, mindfulness reminders and virtual retreat schedules. They can help practitioners set goals and monitor their progress.

These chatbots also have the capacity to answer questions, clarify doubts and suggest practical solutions to real-life challenges. They can remind users to cultivate qualities such as compassion and patience, serving as virtual mentors to support personal transformation.

Realize (pativedha)

The ultimate purpose of Dharma learning and practice is to realize the truths of existence and attain enlightenment. NORBU and Buddhist chatbots can assist users on their journey of self-realization by offering guided contemplations and reflective exercises. They can simulate dialogues with experienced teachers or masters, providing valuable insights into the subtleties of the Dharma.

Additionally, these chatbots can help individuals track their spiritual progress. They can create journals for practitioners to record their insights, moments of clarity, and struggles, fostering self-awareness and growth. In this way, users can take the teachings from theory to direct experience.

Share (desanā)

Sharing the Dharma is a crucial aspect of Buddhist practice. NORBU plays a pivotal role in facilitating this. It can assist users in creating and sharing Dharma-related content, whether it be articles, podcasts or artwork. It can also connect like-minded practitioners, fostering a sense of community and support.

Moreover, the accessibility of chatbots transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. They can offer Dharma teachings in multiple languages, making the wisdom of Buddhism available to a global audience. This accessibility is particularly crucial for those who may not have easy access to physical Dharma centers or teachers.

Chatbots are just Rafts to be used to Cross the River of Samsara

The emergence of Buddhist chatbots such as NORBU presents a remarkable opportunity for the Dharma to flourish in the digital age. They can serve as comprehensive tools for study, practice, realization and sharing of the teachings. As liberating tools, chatbots have the potential to make the wisdom of the Buddha accessible to a wide audience, bridging the gap between ancient wisdom and modern technology.

However, it is essential to use these tools mindfully, understanding that they are a means to an end, not the end itself. There serve merely as tools to learn the Dharma, or as the Buddha said in the Alagaddupama Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 22), NORBU or any Buddhist chatbots for the matter, are just rafts to help us cross the river of suffering and reach the other shore, which symbolises Nirvana or liberation.

The ultimate goal remains the same: the liberation of the mind from suffering and the realization of enlightenment. NORBU and other chatbots can be powerful allies on this sacred journey, but it is only as effective as the sincerity and commitment of the users who engage with them.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to 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 and Singaporeans, please make your donation to 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: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. 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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. 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: editor@buddhistchannel.tv