Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

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Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby pink_trike » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:53 pm

Interesting. Thoughts?

Landmark Translation Conference Draws World’s Leading Translators to Remote Himalayan Region

Many of the world’s leading Tibetan-English translators are gathering March 15-20, 2009 in the tiny Indian village of Bir in northern India to map out the future of Dharma translation for generations to come. What they decide could help make Buddha Shakyamini’s core teachings available to millions worldwide.

The Translating the Words of the Buddha Conference will be hosted by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and the Khyentse Foundation at Deer Park Institute, a centre for study of classical Indian wisdom traditions. Leaders of all four Tibetan Buddhist lineages, including H.H the Dalai Lama, H.H the Karmapa, and H.H the Sakya Trizin have offered their blessings and supported to this landmark initiative.

Participants include seven Rinpoches:
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche
Trulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
Doboom Trulku Rinpoche
Trulku Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche

Also attending are luminaries such as Gene Smith, Matthieu Ricard and Bob Thurman, and top translators from all four Tibetan Buddhist lineages, representatives from the major Tibetan-English translation houses around the world, and a number of publishers and patrons. The agenda includes topics such as initiating the full translation of the entire Buddhist canon, including the 108-volume Kangyur—the Buddha’s direct teachings that include many sutras never before translated into English. Translating those teachings from Sanskrit to Tibetan 1,000 years ago took nearly 100 years under Tibetan royal patronage. This gathering is intended to generate the collaboration among translators required to realize this vision in the west.

According to the conference chair, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche:

“I have arrived at the conviction that we cannot have a goal to make ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ a Western institution. For the Buddha’s teachings to truly thrive in our cultures and take root in our hearts, we must have a genuine Western Buddhism. For this genuine tradition to flourish and become fully integrated in the West, we must, in my view, have the words of the Buddha in English.[/b] A comprehensive English compilation of the Buddha’s words will serve as an authoritative bedrock for a living tradition.”

The conference host, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says:

“My main reason for convening this conference is that I believe it's entirely possible that the survival of the Buddhadharma could depend on it being translated into other languages. I also believe that by translating and making available the Tibetan Buddhist texts to modern people, a vast swathe of Buddhist civilization and culture may be saved from global annihilation. It's clear we need to act quickly, and I believe the only way we can accomplish this monumental endeavor is by working together—pooling our skills, resources, experience and energy and coming up with a plan for translating the Buddhadharma. We must decide where we want this process to be in 10 years, 25 years, 50 years and 100 years”
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:44 pm

Thanks, that's interesting. I imagine that the amount of material in the Tibetan texts is huge, so that's such an enormous job.

The Theravada Canon+Commentaries is presumably quite modest in comparison, and does not appear to be under threat. The Canon is well preserved in Pali in various scripts and has been translated into several other languages. As I understand it, the whole Canon is available in English, but only small selections of the Commentaries.

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:14 pm

I'm surprised that it has taken this long for the Rinpoches to get around to translating their texts to English, but better late, then never.

I'm thankful for the many great translators we have in the Theravada who have already translated 99% of the Canon, including Bhikkhu Bodhi, T.W. Rhys Davids, C.A.F. Rhys Davids, I.B. Horner, Norman, and others.
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:57 pm

Greetings,

Relevant history on the Kangyur...

A Brief History of the Tibetan bKa' 'gyur
by Paul Harrison (University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand)
From Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre, Section 1 of 5, pages 70-94

http://text.lib.virginia.edu/servlet/Sa ... arriso.xml

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby zavk » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:18 pm

Good stuff!

I've always appreciated Khyentse Rinpoche's efforts to make Buddhism accessible to the West. Well, I guess it helps that he is a very skillful filmmaker! :popcorn:

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:10 am

TheDhamma wrote:I'm surprised that it has taken this long for the Rinpoches to get around to translating their texts to English, but better late, then never.

I'm thankful for the many great translators we have in the Theravada who have already translated 99% of the Canon, including Bhikkhu Bodhi, T.W. Rhys Davids, C.A.F. Rhys Davids, I.B. Horner, Norman, and others.

Yes, but my point was that the volume they had to deal with is actually quite small in comparison with the Mahayana literature.

Does anyone know how much material they are talking about needing to translate for this project?

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:57 am

I've heard that there are over 5000 texts in over 100 volumes.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:11 am

Greetings,

pink_trike wrote:Thoughts?


I have mixed thoughts about this.

I think it's great for those who will benefit from the reading of these scriptures, but on the other hand I think it's potentially unfortunate that we might, in English language discussions, see more things that the historical Buddha never actually said, thrust into his mouth as if he did indeed speak them.

Knowing some of the anti-Hinayana things attributed to the Buddha, other Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the commonly known Mahayana literature, I shudder to think of the disparagement of the Buddha's original teachings, which may be unearthed through this Tibetan translation project.

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:16 am

I think that might be a legitimate concern- especially given the stated goal of creating a "Western Buddhism"...though I think Bob Thurman is probably quite sensitive to this issue, so there exist the possibility that it might be directly spoken to - maybe in an introduction, footnotes, appendix, etc...

Another concern is the goal to create a "genuine Western Buddhism" from a Tibetan Buddhist base. If there is to be a consciously-created Western Buddhism, my selfish little preference (having practiced in more than one tradition) would be that it arises from a thoughtfully combined base of Vajrayana/Theravadan/Zen...which I'm sure many Theravadan practitioners will find equally concerning.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:20 am

Greetings pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:Another concern is the goal to create a "genuine Western Buddhism" from a Tibetan Buddhist base.


Agreed... as chequered as its history may be, I think an FWBO-style model offers a more balanced route towards a "genuine Western Buddhism".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:32 am

From the conference resolutions:

---

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche offered his gratitude to all the participants, organizers and to the conference sponsor, Wayne Tisdale. Rinpoche stressed that it will definitely not be the case that any portion of this work will be ‘owned’ in any way by this group, as “The Words of the Buddha have no owner, they belong to everyone.”

---

-We resolve to make every effort to invite the participation of the masters and holders of all lineages and to invite the many translators who were not present in this conference to join us in this effort.


-We resolve to undertake this project in the spirit of universal Buddhist fellowship, drawing on the wisdom of accomplished masters throughout the Buddhist world.

This is encouraging. Time will tell.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:49 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings pink_trike,

pink_trike wrote:Another concern is the goal to create a "genuine Western Buddhism" from a Tibetan Buddhist base.


Agreed... as chequered as its history may be, I think an FWBO-style model offers a more balanced route towards a "genuine Western Buddhism".

Metta,
Retro. :)


Gawd. A Tibetan Buddhist base? I'll pass on that. As for FWBO, its history is a bit problematic, but maybe as it gets further away from Dennis Lingwood, it may get beyond its problems.
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:47 am

What is interesting about the Tibetan Canon is that much of it is actually very little studied by Tibetans. What Tibetans study and comment on and produce are doctrinal compendiums based upon other doctrinal compendiums based upon the hermeneutics of whatever particular school one belongs to with all the bumpy things one might find in the sutras smoothed out. The Mahayana sutras are little, if at all, studied, and the Mainstream texts, even less so, and if any group of sutras are studied, it is the Prajnaparamita sutras.

It is a shame that there was not preserved in Tibetan a complete Mainstream canon, given the care that was taken in the translations, but they were hinayana, so no real effort was made in that direction. That being said, there are, nonetheless, hunks of Mainstream texts in the Tibetan canon, and it would be a good thing to have them available.

As for a singular Western Buddhism, it won’t happen. There will be Western Buddhisms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby Kare » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:58 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

pink_trike wrote:Thoughts?


I have mixed thoughts about this.

I think it's great for those who will benefit from the reading of these scriptures, but on the other hand I think it's potentially unfortunate that we might, in English language discussions, see more things that the historical Buddha never actually said, thrust into his mouth as if he did indeed speak them.

Knowing some of the anti-Hinayana things attributed to the Buddha, other Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the commonly known Mahayana literature, I shudder to think of the disparagement of the Buddha's original teachings, which may be unearthed through this Tibetan translation project.

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Well said. Exactly my thoughts, too.
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:35 pm

pink_trike wrote:I've heard that there are over 5000 texts in over 100 volumes.

That is a lot of texts and volumes. I see what some of you mean. In the Theravada Tipitaka we have about 40 volumes and with that, there is still some debate and controversy about the chronology and interpretation. Imagine how much more there could be when the number of volumes is 2.5 x that amount.

It was translated and written from Sanskrit to Tibetan 1,000 years ago? That would make it in the written form some 1,000 years after the Pali Canon was first written. A lot could happen in 1,000 years; just sayin' . . .
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:54 pm

TheDhamma wrote:It was translated and written from Sanskrit to Tibetan 1,000 years ago? That would make it in the written form some 1,000 years after the Pali Canon was first written. A lot could happen in 1,000 years; just sayin' . . .


hi Dhamma
I have read a version of the Bodhisattva way of life, which has comparisons between the Sanskrit and Tibetan and they are surprisingly similar
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby Dharmajim » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:24 pm

Good Friends:

I want to add several considerations. First, there is the Numata Center BDK English Tripitika translation project the purpose of which is to tranlsate the entire Chinese Canon into English. This has been in progress for a few decades, I think. There is a lot of excellent Mahayana material in this project.

Second, the fact that the Tibetans are not hooking up with BDK indicates that they want to present a strictly Tibetan version of the Dharma. They act as if the BDK group doesn't even exist, and from their point of view it's not a "full canon" because it doesn't contain some Tantras which are central to their tradition. Fair enough, but that's how I read this project; which makes sense given the supersessionist nature of Vajrayana.

Third, I'm no expert in Sanskrit, my studies have been on my own. Having said this I am very suspicious of how Tibetan Buddhism has translated key Sanskrit terms. The more Sanskrit I learn the more suspicious I become. A good example is the word "pratimoksha" (Pali: Patimokkha), which they translate as "Individual Liberation". No other tradition glosses the word that way; e.g. in Chinese Buddhism it is simply understood as monastic liberative discipline, nothing about "individual" is embedded in the term. (As an aside, even Saicho, who was so critical of monasticism, did not gloss the term this way.) There are other examples of how Tibetan Buddhism skews central terms to buttress their particular point of view and I think there should be more awareness of just how systematic and pervasive this is in Tibetan texts. The problem is that these ways of interpreting Sanskrit terms will be presented as definitive, the actual meaning, of these Sanskrit terms when there is no support for such an interpretation in Indian Mahayana Buddhism, nor in other non-Vajrayana Mahayana traditions.

Best wishes,

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Re: Landmark Translation Conference at Deer Park

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:28 pm

TheDhamma wrote:In the Theravada Tipitaka we have about 40 volumes and with that, there is still some debate and controversy about the chronology and interpretation. Imagine how much more there could be when the number of volumes is 2.5 x that amount.

My impression was that it would be much, much, more than 2.5 times, a library vs a bookcase.

It depends what people mean mean by a "volume". The books of the Khuddaka-nikāya (Dhammapada, Sutta Nipata, etc) are rather small.

Your count of 40 excludes commentaries, but would count the MN as 3 "volumes"...
Anyway, it's all available here (at least in Pali):
Pali Text Society: http://www.palitext.com/
and in other places for other scripts/languages (Sinhalese/Burmese/Thai/...)

I'm sure someone has a word count somewhere...

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