Translating The Words Of The Buddha Conference

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 Insitute, a centre for study of classical Indian wisdom traditions. Leaders of all four Tibetan Buddhist lineages, including the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and Sakya Trizin have offered their blessed and supported to this landmark initiative.

Participants include six rinpoches (incarnate lamas), luminaries such as 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. A comprehensive English compilation of the Buddha’s words will serve as an authoritative bedrock for a living tradition.”

The conference host and convenor, 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 endeavour 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.