Starting to Plan and Build the Printing Press

Good fortune, everyone!

We’ve just started the progress on our library, but we’re all incredibly enthusiastic for what the end result will look like! When the lama was here last week, he donated some resources for our village to be able to build our own printing press, especially since some of the books in our old library were destroyed by the storm. My fellow scholars and I are excited about our upcoming endeavour to renovate the library in the monastery. We have already started planning what we’d like to do and each of the parts that we’d like to achieve. The group of scholars, artists, traders and others formed earlier this week so that we could discuss the ideas we wanted for the new library, as well as the potential jobs we each wanted to work on. Part of our group will be devoted to choosing what books we want for the library (through printing, searching for and compiling lists of the books we want, and trading with other traders for more books), and others will be devoted to the aesthetic side of the library (including finding and trading for art for the library, making a peaceful environment to work and study in, and having sitting areas). We discussed some of the resources we thought that we had already, including different things such as herbs and barley (these were not very important for our library, however), to the things we may need in the future (that we could trade with neighbouring village traders, as we had a trader in our library group). We decided this week that we would also need yellow cloth and minerals for painting, which we would have to get, perhaps through donations of resources or trading with other villagers.

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With this project, we hope to build a library that will educate our village through distributing good quality books, and are able to pass on knowledge to future generations. The printing press will be especially beneficial for our small village in this respect, as I mentioned in my last post. As a group, we thought that having a section of the library devoted to the Pali Canon would be important. The Canon has three parts, and we would have shelves separated for each section of the Canon, including the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic code of conduct), Sutta Pitaka (The Buddha’s teachings, including sutras and tantras), and the Abhidhamma Pitaka (texts that discuss more philosophical topics). The Pali Canon is very important in Buddhist literature and we thought that having this would be very important contribution to the library.

As a scholar, I was already researching parts of the Pali Canon and uses of the Pali language in scripture, so I decided to branch out for our project in the library to do something else. I wanted to focus on having an area of the library where I could use texts and perhaps illustrations, to show visitors the importance of having books in the community. As a scholar, I know the importance of having a library, but I feel like others in the community who are not always surrounded by texts, would benefit from knowing the importance of spending resources and investing in our library. I also wanted to talk about some of the reasons why having a more efficient way of text distribution would be good for our village, that I’ve learned from history research in the past from my work as a scholar. I know this would be particularly beneficial for those who are still learning, such as apprentices, for different trades, healers-in-training, or younger scholars, because being able to understand the reasons for having the library would allow them to appreciate the space we are building more. I especially wanted to focus on the importance of books in healing, as I have a passion for healing (I guess you could say I have secondary skills in it)!

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On the whole, I’m looking forward to working with my fellow villagers to build a library for our community. I will have to do more research on the historical importance of texts in Buddhism and healing, and figure out how we will display it. I am thinking that we could have a section in the library — perhaps a couple of shelves near the entrance of the library — that would introduce visitors to the topic. I grew up enjoying reading and learning about history, which is why I decided to become a scholar. I want to be able to inspire others to do the same as well. I really hope that the new library with the printing press will come to fruition! More work awaits me for the library. I need to go meet with the group again to discuss what needs to be done in the upcoming week, and the individual parts we each need to contribute. I will talk to you all again very soon!

Warm wishes,

Tashi