The Budda-Bot bringing Buddhism and science together.
The Longquan Buddhist temple, located on the outskirts of Beijing’s Haidian District, is a very modern temple in China. It possesses the best academically qualified monks and lay devotees, and has various departments like website development, translation, animation, charity, education, editing, engineering, and so on.
It also holds the distinction as the temple that developed the very first animated cartoon using dough figurines. The temple recently developed a robot monk for the purpose of attracting followers and spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China.
According to Master Xianfan, the creator of the Buddha-bot, the fusion of science and Buddhism has the potential to attract a lot of people towards the religion. Buddhism has been steadily declining in China for a long time. However, in the past few years, the religion has been slowly gaining momentum, under the ever-watching eyes of the government of the People's Republic of China, which is officially atheist.
Master Xianfan believes that Buddhism gives more importance to one's inner self, where attention is given to the spiritual world of an individual. It is a kind of culture that is elevated. Buddhism has the potential to satisfy the needs of a lot of people. In this fast-changing, technology dominated society, Buddhism can fill a gap for many people. Master Xianfan further said that science and Buddhism do not contradict or oppose each other. They are mutually compatible and can be combined for the betterment of the society.
The Buddha-bot is called Xian'er. It is the cartoon version of a novice monk in yellow robes. Its head is shaven, and it holds a touch screen on its chest. Master Xianfan created Xian'er based on a popular character from a cartoon series called, Trouble, You Seek for Yourself. The cartoon series was also created by Master Xianfan.
According to China Network Television, the cartoon series was created by Master Xianfan to showcase and develop the connection of Buddhism with contemporary culture via modern media. Xian'er has been a joint project between a technology company and various top Chinese University Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts. Xian'er has the ability to perform seven different types of motions on its wheels and answer about 20 questions regarding daily life and Buddhism. It chants Buddhist mantras and can respond to voice commands.
— Kirsty Callaghan (@splursty) April 25, 2016
The Buddha-Bot: Chinese Temple Enlists Mini Monk Robot To Boost Teachings https://t.co/tnCUzA7vea
— Donald Farmer (@donalddotfarmer) April 25, 2016
Social media has been abuzz with news about Xian'er. According to Michelle Yu, a practicing Buddhist, who came upon Xian'er on social media, the Buddha-bot will help to spread Buddhism to a lot of people.