A Robot Monk in China Will Tell You the Meaning of Life

The turbulent quest for mind-expanding wisdom is a stereotypical narrative about Buddhist culture, but it has retained its allure through its emphasis on the hard work required to get there: A struggling soul in search of enlightenment makes an arduous trek to the top of a mountain, where he or she is greeted by a tranquil monk who provides clarifying counsel. A Buddhist temple in China, however, is putting a contemporary twist on that experience: instead of a human monk, a miniature robot could greet those seeking advice. Xian’er is a two-foot-tall robot in an orange robe that dispenses bits of Buddhist wisdom at the Longquan Temple located in the mountains northwest of Beijing. Xian Fan, the director of the temple’s Comic Center, asserts that the emotionally and spiritually wise…


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