Given the title of this node, I want to test this idea to destruction. The Diamond Sutra has the inconvenient misfortune of having been written before the invention of electronic technology and modern ideas of cryptography, but that's just the author's fault for not thinking far enough ahead, in my opinion, since ciphers and codes still certainly existed back then, as did countless languages and the ability to hide words (in the form of elaborate calligraphy) in images, and images in words.
One wonders what strictly qualifies as "images or words of the Buddha," sufficient to gain merit. Do the words need to be perceptible as words, by a human reader? If not, encoding words of the Buddha as a QR code and printing out thousands of pages of it would certainly be many copies more than one might accomplish by hand. One could also use a computer program to identify what large number would describe words of the Buddha in some abstract numerical base, or one could disguise them in Morse Code as clicks and pops of static in a television broadcast or a song released on radio.
Are encoded words of the Buddha still meritorious if they incite a displeased or distressed reaction on the part of anyone who perceives them? Can I hide images of the Buddha as digital video and audio artifacts in a Rickroll, and still cultivate merit? Is a Rickroll meritorious if I substitute Rick Astley's face with that of Avalokiteshvara or Siddhartha Gautama?
If I were a mad scientist in microbiology or genetics, instead of linguistics, could I design a virus with the Diamond Sutra encoded in its RNA, allowing it to infect vast populations of mosquitos so that it spreads throughout the tropics? What about a computer virus, instead, hiding pictures of Gautama all throughout the internet, waiting to infect the devices of end users?
How high must the resolution be, on an image of the Buddha? Can a stick figure qualify as an image of the Buddha? Is it an image of the Buddha, if a child has drawn it, with all a child's limited manual dexterity and inexperience at creating lifelike portraits? If one stick figure intended to be Buddha is cosmetically identical to a stick figure not intended to be Buddha, are they both Buddha anyway? Does this also apply to Mohammed, and if so, what are the interfaith theological ramifications of a stick figure representing both Buddha and Mohammed? Is every image of Buddha also an image of Mohammed, through this sort of syllogism?
If pi plausibly contains a sequence of digits which decodes as the Diamond Sutra, then is every circular figure philosophically equivalent to the words of the Buddha? Are NBA basketball players passing around the words of the Buddha, in the form of an orange sphere to be bounced and shot through hoops which are also the words of the Buddha?
I suspect if I keep going like this, I will be forced to conclude that everything is the words of the Buddha, and / or an image of the Buddha, and thus any act of interacting with matter in any form is intrinsically copying images or words of the Buddha, even something so fundamental as respiration. Are not the atoms of oxygen and carbon, found in carbon dioxide, depicted as ring-shaped? Are not their subatomic particles depicted as spherical?
Therefore I copy the Buddha with every breath in... and out.
Iron Noder 2021, 20/30