Our Reading Room in Education
We have recently heard the good news that students at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, have been assigned a reading from 84000’s online Reading Room for their Introduction to Buddhism course. This semester, it is The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma, a fitting start considering that, according to all Buddhist traditions, this was the first teaching the Buddha gave to explain his awakened insight to others. We also recently heard that undergraduate students at Kathmandu’s Rangjung Yeshe Institute are being prescribed use of the Reading Room as a means to better understand the source texts of Buddhism’s vast literary heritage. The use of our Reading Room in respected academic environments is really a rewarding development for us at 84000!
Our state-of-the-art, online Reading Room has seen a number of developments over the years as 84000 increases its technological capacity and scope. The functions now available offer readers the most intuitive and supportive experience in which to study the sūtras, and it is encouraging to see that visitors are spending longer times on our site than ever before—despite the new options that allow readers to quickly download and read the sūtras offline on tablets and Kindles. With a string of new translations in the publications pipeline, we will be excited to see the number of sūtras available in our Reading Room grow over the next few months, and we hope to be of increasingly greater use and benefit to people practicing or studying Buddhism, religion, philosophy, history, and the preservation of cultural heritage.
We strongly believe that the pedagogical potential of translated Buddhist texts, though still largely untapped, is enormous for lay and monastic institutions in both East and West, and are looking forward to developing more regular, institutional use of our Reading Room. Over the coming months, we hope to reach out to educators from all spheres and at all levels to integrate this free resource into their curricula.
As children learn about world religions, some of the short and basic sūtras might make an excellent, primary-source introduction. The integrated technological features of our Reading Room will allow them to explore the vastness of the Buddha’s writings, as well as linguistic terminology, with our fun glossary features. Similarly, students of Classical Tibetan and translators in training are encouraged to make use of our new source-text/bilingual view, as a means to familiarize themselves with difficult translation terms. We also hope to reach out to Khenpos—monastics who hold a doctorate equivalent—who are being increasingly called upon to teach in English.
We welcome any suggestions our readers and supporters may have in expanding our Reading Room users.