Smartphones meet sutras at ancient monastery

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Publish Time: 2019-06-03 Author: From: China Daily Global

Living Buddhas

Most Tibetans follow the religion, and the region is home to 1,782 monasteries and more than 46,000 lamas and nuns. There are 358 Living Buddhas, monks believed to be the reincarnations of eminent lamas, according to the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing.

Three of the monastery's schools specialize in Exoteric Buddhism, the belief that the ultimate state of Buddhahood can be divined through teachings and scripture. According to Tashilhunpo tradition, the students spend 18 years mastering the five theories of Tibetan Buddhism and learning to win doctrinal debates.

The other school offers lessons on Esoteric Buddhism, which says the ultimate state is unknowable and cannot be expressed. The courses take up to five years to complete.

"Currently, there are more than 750 students, including six Living Buddhas, from all over China at the monastery. We'd like to see the number reach 1,000," said Salung Phunlha, director of the monastery's administrative commission.

In 2005, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the 11th Panchen Lama, was made the commission's honorable director. The appointment came 20 years after he was named as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama at age 5 and an enthronement ceremony was held in Tashilhunpo.

"The 11th Panchen Lama regularly stays at the monastery and holds religious ceremonies in the courtyard in front of the Tsogchen Hall," Dawa said, pointing to the dignitary's golden chair. "The square is packed with followers every time he holds a ceremony."

New channels

Salung Phunlha said: "The 11th Panchen Lama has said repeatedly that lamas need to spread Tibetan Buddhism via new channels to adapt to the new requirements and development of society. So, besides scripture, our students study culture and science, and learn English."

The 11th Panchen Lama surprised many people when he delivered a speech in English at the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in 2009.

"By mastering different languages, we can ensure that our message won't get lost in translation," Salung Phunlha said.

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