May 7, 1974 | Tuesday

On Writing Out the Sutras by Hand

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua  


Before I discuss the situation in Hong Kong and Taiwan , I have some news to tell you, which I hope you will take into consideration. What is this news? Guo Qian, in Hong Kong , has come to the realization that typing sutras on the typewriter is not a good idea. Why not? Because it makes him go through the sutra too quickly, like a galloping horse, before he has time to ponder it over and investigate it. As a result, he is a bit muddled about the principles in the sutra. What is he going to do about this? Instead of transcribing the sutra lecture directly on the typewriter, he is going to write it out by hand. On the one hand, he can practice his handwriting and learn to write faster; on the other hand, he can reflect on the principles as he writes the text down. And so, instead of typing it out quickly on the typewriter, he is going to write it out manually.

I told you a long time ago that the tape recorder is a terrible thing. Since we have a tape recorder, no one takes notes anymore. Everyone depends on the tape recorder. People donít even think it matters whether or not they listen to the lecture anymore. They think they can doze off during the sutra lecture, because the tape recorder is turning the great Dharma wheel, recording all the Buddhadharma. They figure they can listen to the tapes later. First, people donít take notes. Second, they become dependent on the recorder and start dozing off at lectures. Those are two disadvantages. Then, they let the tapes sit there for a long time without listening to them, and as a result they forget all the principles that were lectured. When they finally have time to listen to the tapes, their memory is already quite foggy and they canít figure out what their teacher was talking about.

Therefore, the tape recorder is not that helpful to students who truly want to investigate the Buddhadharma. It is helpful in a small way, since it can help people fill in what they missed in their notes from not being able to write fast enough. When you miss something in your notes, you can leave a space in your notebook and then listen to the tape to find out what was said. The tape recorder is helpful in this small way, making your notes more complete.

If you really want to understand the Buddhadharma, you should regularly write it out by hand. That is a very good method.


Timely Teachings, page 321 - 322.