The oldest book in the world…and it comes with such an incredible, mystery-infused discovery story. Enjoy!
From The Huffington Post,
By Joyce Morgan
“Ask people to name the world’s oldest printed book and the common reply is Gutenberg’s Bible. Few venture that the answer is a revered Buddhist text called the Diamond Sutra, printed in 868 A.D. Or that by the time Gutenberg got ink on his fingers nearly 600 years later — and his revolutionary technology helped usher in the Enlightenment — this copy of the Diamond Sutra had been hidden for several centuries in a sacred cave on the edge of the Gobi Desert and would remain there for several more.
Its discovery is the result of a series of accidents and its significance realized belatedly. The book unwittingly came to light when a Chinese monk clearing sand from a Buddhist meditation cave in 1900 noticed a crack in a wall. It suggested the outline of a doorway. Plastered over and painted, the entrance had been deliberately concealed.
The monk, Abbot Wang Yuanlu, broke in and discovered a small chamber, about nine feet square and full from floor to ceiling with scrolls. They had been hidden and perfectly preserved in the dark, dry grotto for 1,000 years. Although he didn’t know it, among the nearly 60,000 scrolls was the Diamond Sutra of 868 A.D., a woodblock printed scroll, more than 16 feet long, complete and dated, with an instruction that it be given away for free.
Ironically, this enduring scroll, with its illustrated frontispiece depicting the Buddha teaching his disciples, is about impermanence. The Diamond Sutra, for centuries a revered and popular scripture, distills Buddhism’s central belief: that all is change…”
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