Linking Buddhist Stone Sutras in China to CBETA

Duration 07.2020 - 06.2023


The initiative for digitizing Chinese Buddhist texts  CBETA (Chinese-Buddhist Electronic Text Association) (external link) provides access to the Buddhist canon as transmitted in Chinese according to scholarly standards. Since the launch of the project in 1998, scholars in the field of Buddhist studies have been able to digitally access an ever growing number of Chinese Buddhist texts. At the same time, CBETA evolved into a research platform CBETA-RP (external link), which not only provides canonical texts, but also reference works such as catalogs, dictionaries of personal and place names, and more related research information. CBETA-RP is currently funded by Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and is operated by the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts.

The project:

The project “Linking Buddhist Stone Sutras in China to CBETA” realizes the linking of research results of the Academy project “Buddhist Stone Sutras in China” (internal link) with CBETA. Under the auspices of Dr. Sueyling Tsai, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (DILA) agreed upon the following collaboration objectives:

  • Integration of the Academy project’s stone sutra transcriptions into CBETA according to CBETA standards. A significant number of the texts studied in the Academy project, for example, the scriptures by Xinxing 信行 (540–594), founder of the Three Levels Teaching三階教, are not contained in the official Buddhist canon and have only been preserved in manuscripts and stone carved texts. In a unique text cave at Jinchuanwan 金川灣石窟 in Shaanxi Province, so far unknown texts of this lost Buddhist tradition of the Three Levels Teaching have been preserved.
  • Integration of those sutra transcriptions provided by the Academy project that represent a new version of texts already contained in CBETA. An example is the Sutra on the Merit of Reverence 敬福經inside cave 2 of Cishan Monastery 慈善寺in Linyou 麟游, Shaanxi Province.
  • Display of variant readings found in the stone sutra texts in CBETA.
  • Integration of all stone sutra text transcriptions into CBETA’s searchable catalog.
  • Connection to CBETA through the project’s website: (external link).

The main task of the project is to make the present stone sutra transcriptions compatible to the system used by CBETA. To this end, a professional programmer has been consulted. Another focus lies on designing a display mode for the project’s texts in CBETA.