BEIJING - Venerable Master Xuecheng has the unlikely dual identity of a Buddhist monk and a prolific blogger. And the first book selected from his micro blog in Chinese and seven foreign languages hit the bookshelves on Wednesday.
Xuecheng, vice-president of the Chinese Buddhist Association and abbot of Longquan Monastery, located in Beijing's northwest suburb, was the first among the Buddhist community in China to launch the multilingual micro blog on Feb 17, 2011, on two major Internet portals, Sina Weibo and QQ.
A year later, the micro blog claims a readership from more than 100 countries, with more than 200,000 online followers.
The multilingual book, called 365 Days at Longquan Monastery, written in Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korea and Spanish, describes the monastic life on a daily basis and offers mottoes and epigrams of traditional Chinese culture as well as Xuecheng's own understanding of Buddha's teachings.
Before the micro blog came along as a dominating social network in China's cyberspace, he started a blog in 2006, the contents of which have attracted Internet traffic of nearly 9 million visitors and produced 100 books.
He also has a personal Facebook and Twitter account and is a registered user on micro blog websites in several countries, including Canada, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
In recent posts, he has used images and simple wording to introduce life at the monastery and Buddhist practices.
"Buddhism should keep up with the times and embrace modern technology to promote Buddha's teachings in an innovative and recipient-friendly way," he said, but the outcome relies on the quality of contents and the way they are narrated to inspire kindness, charity and understanding from people.
Disseminating Buddhism via the Internet and social media can extend the outreach to younger generations, and with minimal costs, as people from around the world can sit comfortably on their couch and read the blogs with a computer, he said.
"The contents should be interesting enough to grasp people's attention and be 'liked'", he said.
There are scores of verified Buddhist monks and living Buddhas with more than 10,000 followers of their micro blogs on Sina Weibo.
Abbot Xuecheng spends two hours online every day and responds to viewers' questions in diverse fields such as parenting problems, conflicts with colleagues or family members, disorientation and distress about life.
"I learn a great deal from their responses. I know what bothers them and what they want to figure out," he said.
The book's release has been facilitated by more than 170 volunteers, all unpaid, from around the world. They edit the posts, update them online, translate and then compile them into an informative book.
The volunteers, mostly in their 30s and 40s, have small children at home and work in varied professions in different regions.
Teng Yanxin, 32, works at a Japanese company and speaks fluent Japanese. She joined the translation team in August 2011 and experienced positive changes in her life.
"I have fewer quarrels with my husband. And conflicts between my mother-in-law and me are gone. We have more understanding and I am a happier person," Teng said.
Wonkyung Lee, 37, lives in Seoul and has been a volunteer proofreader of texts in Korean since 2009.
"I believe in Buddhism and started reading the sutras at an early age. But this project marked the first time that I served at a temple in China. I learned that life can be transformed if people spread kindness and good deeds," Lee said.
Luo Zhengyu, director of Huawen Publishing House, which has published all of Xuecheng's blog-based books, joked that he is also volunteering, promising that profits made from the new book's sales across the country will be donated to the monastery.