This powerful photography collection captures an incredible journey of cultural preservation. Join E. Gene Smith as he travels to remote monasteries in South Asia delivering the digitized version of twenty thousand volumes of ancient Tibetan texts—volumes that had been faced with almost certain extinction fifty years earlier.

This is the epic story of an international rescue effort to preserve a culture’s literary history.

Originally a Mormon from Utah, E. Gene Smith became the unlikely mastermind behind an international effort to rescue, preserve, digitize, and provide free access to the vast Tibetan Buddhist canon, many volumes of which had been lost or destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution.  

Digital Dharma is a stunning visual experience offering a behind-the-scenes look into this unprecedented mission. Through hundreds of photographs taken during Smith’s trip to deliver drives containing the digitized volumes to remote monasteries in South Asia, you’ll gain extraordinary and intimate access to life inside Buddhist monasteries, to the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, and to the insights of some of the world’s leading lamas and lineage holders. Throughout the journey, you’ll meet monks, local publishers, scholars, and dignitaries involved in the preservation movement to which Smith dedicated his life. With the accompanying historical and cultural background, you’ll develop a deeper and more personal understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and of the achievement of preserving and disseminating its sacred canon. 

About the author(s)

Arthur M. Fischman holds a BA from Queens College and a JD from Temple Law School. Coauthor of The Living Memories Project, he is a freelance writer whose video and interactive scripts have won numerous awards, including a Telly, an ITVA Silver Award, and a New York Festivals Bronze World Medal. He co-wrote the award-winning documentary Digital Dharma and has written radio, TV, and print ads for leading consumer product manufacturers. A veteran speechwriter and ghostwriter, he was director of executive communications and internal communications at a Fortune 500 company. He and his wife, Janet, live in Philadelphia, where he also writes plays and moonlights as a jazz pianist.


Digital Dharma offers a delightful opportunity to rejoice in the unparalleled contribution of Gene Smith in helping to preserve, digitize, and make available to scholars and students worldwide tens of thousands of Tibetan texts—making it possible to literally have an entire library of Tibetan texts on one’s computer or a tablet. Gene’s work in Delhi on behalf of the Library of Congress, his travels to different parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, so poignantly captured in this beautiful volume, bring home a powerful point—that with will and dedication a single person can make so much difference. I, for one, will treasure this book so that my deep gratitude to Gene always remains strong and vibrant.”

Thupten Jinpa, editor of The Library of Tibetan Classics and author of Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

“It can be safely said that, after His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the person most responsible for the serious study of Tibetan Buddhism in America is E. Gene Smith. I first met Gene in India in 1978; the photos here for the Delhi days bring back many memories. For those lucky few who knew Gene and those lucky many who have benefited from his work, the images and words in this beautiful book convey much of the spirit of this remarkable man.”

Donald S. Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan

“I met the most kind, good-hearted Gene Smith in a Darjeeling hotel in the very, very early times [1967]. Gene Smith collected Tibetan texts for so many years, from India and other countries. As he gave permission to many universities to check and study the texts he collected, he offered so much wisdom to the world. And by giving texts to high lamas, monasteries, and others he knew, he helped many people open the eye of wisdom—Dharma wisdom, not worldly wisdom. Furthermore, his nature was very kind, good hearted, and I wish he could have lived forever.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Digital Dharma: Recovering Wisdom provides a beautifully illustrated glimpse of the lifework of E. Gene Smith as he collected and preserved the sacred literary heritage of Tibet. Beginning in the early days of the Tibetan diaspora, Gene searched for the thousands of scattered jewels that were the religious texts of all the traditions of Tibet, reprinted them, and reassembled those jewels into great treasuries as complete collections in research libraries and teaching monasteries around the world. Then, with a vision far ahead of his time, in the final decades of his life, Gene perceived the need to digitize those collections into online databases that could be easily accessed by individuals anywhere in the world, so that they might be widely used in modern times. All future scholars and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism are forever indebted to E. Gene Smith and his supremely meaningful lifework as the founder and builder of what is now known as the Buddhist Digital Resource Center.”

His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche

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