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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 48 |buddhadharma Meg Federico is a Freelance writer living in HaliFax, nova scotia. Thus Have I Not Heard Dharma archivists are running out of time to save precious recordings of the pioneering teachers who brought Buddhism to the West. Meg Federico reports on the challenges of changing technology, copyright laws, and the ever-mounting collection of new dharma recordings. In many Buddhist traditions, the role of archivist was considered a spiritual responsibility, and a lineage holder appointed a trusted disciple to that role. The archivist’s job was to preserve and pro- tect the teacher’s body of work for the benefit of future students. In recent decades, Tibetan refu- gees carried texts on their own backs across the Himalayas to save them, and monks throughout the Buddhist world have helped to create librar- ies through copying and printing. As a result, the ancient Buddhist teachings have lasted a long time, but what of those of modern teachers in the West, whose many talks and instructions are captured on audio- and videotape? Will these teachings be available to future students? The discourses of the Buddha were first memo- rized by disciples and passed down in an oral tra- dition, and then, about six hundred years after his life, they began to be written on palm leaves. The humble palm leaf seems absurdly vulnerable – a fire or one rainy, moldy season might have erased that effort. But those palm leaves lasted long EricWouDEnBErglizaMatthEWs