Cambodian Buddhism Goes Hi-Tech With CD ROM Donation

Eight years mastering the ancient language of Pali and nine months retyping 110 volumes of an ancient Buddhist text was the easy part.

The hard part of 28-year-old Ouk Sophearin’s job as a monk, he says, is the meditation.

The fruit of Ouk Sophearin’s work—a CD ROM containing the Buddhist writings in Khmer—will be presented to Cam­bodia’s Buddhist leaders today by the monk who led the project.

The Vener­able SN Goenka, a Buddhist scholar and teacher of the type of Bud­dhist meditation Ouk Sophearin studies, is do­nating the computeriz­ed version of the text, or Tripi­ta­ka.­

Much of the work was done in India, sponsored by Goenka’s orga­ni­zation, the Center for Vipas­sa­na.­

Copies of the disc will be made available to the National Library, the Supreme Patriarchs and the Buddhist Institute, said a statement from the Center for Vipas­sana in Cambodia.

For now, the disc will mainly be­ used for re­search purposes, Buddhist scholars said.

“Because we have computers here we can use the disc to look up references in the Tripitaka very quickly. If you look [at it], it can be too difficult. It will make re­­search easier,” Deputy Direc­tor­ of the Buddhist Institute Him Saith said Wednesday.

Buddhist experts conceded that the disc is too advanced for most monks in Cambodia to use, let alone read. Virtually none of the country’s 4,000 wats have computers, and a good number  of the 50,000 monks cannot read, Him Saith said.

The disc, however, could be us­ed to reprint the enormous text at any point in the future. Until now, the Tripitaka, as the texts are called, was only available in Cambodia in a limited number of print copies, Him Saith said.

Cambodia was the first country in the world to translate the 110-vo­lume text from the dead language of Pali into a national language, said Hema Goonati­la­ke, a Buddhist scholar.

The Khmer version took 40 years and was completed in 1969. How­ever, the Khmer Rouge destroy­ed many co­­pies of the Tripitaka du­ring its re­gime. One of the few re­main­ing sets was sent to Japan and­­ 2,000 copies were reprinted in 1995.

Despite the months Ouk Soph­earin spent typing the hundreds of­ thousands of words in the text, he said it is through meditation that he can begin to understand the Buddhist teachings.

“The meditation is a way to elucidate the words of the Buddha,” Ouk Sophearin said. “The goal is to liberate ourselves from suffering and find peace in our mind and the world.”

Goenka, who arrived here on Thursday, is a Buddhist monk originally from Burma.


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