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.