Robot monk spreads wisdom of Buddhism in Beijing

It’s the world’s first robot monk.

This cartoon-like creature lives in Longquan Temple in the suburbs of Beijing.

It can recite mantras and answer simple questions about Buddhism.

Since its debut last year, the robot has gone viral on China’s social media, and attracted crowds of visitors.

We came here just for him.
He’s so cute, so adorable.
It’s lovely, and interesting too.

But it’s not for fun, or commerce, that Xian’er is created.

Master Xianfan, who designed the image for the robot, says it’s a perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism.

SOUNDBITE: Master XIANFAN, Longquan Monastery
“Buddhism is an ancient religion, but Buddhists live in the modern world. So Buddhist followers need to serve the public with modern technologies.”

The two-foot-tall robot was jointly created by a tech company and monks in the temple — some of whom are AI experts from China’s top universities.

In addition to real-life conversations, the Longquan Temple has also produced animations and published articles featuring the cartoon monk.

SOUNDBITE: Master XIANFAN, Longquan Monastery
“A figure such as Xian’er carries a sense of leisure and humor, which may make it easier for people to understand the mercifulness and wisdom of Buddhism, as well as the notion of kindness.”

The Longquan Temple is long known for making use of technology to spread Buddhism.

Master Xuecheng, abbot of the 1,500-year-old monastery, has been sharing his teachings regularly on social media, and has tens of thousands of followers on his Weibo account.

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