A 100-YEAR VISION: TRANSLATING THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHA
contains everything you need to know to become inspired to share
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision for the future of dharma. Read on
for details of the Translating the Words of the Buddha Conference, including resolutions, two first-person accounts, links to video and slideshows, and much more.
Answers to those who wonder about the urgency of spending the next 100 years translating the words of the Buddha.
FOCUS ON "TRANSLATING THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHA" CONFERENCE
Buddhist Literary Heritage Project Launched
At Rinpoche’s invitation, translators of Tibetan to English from all over the world gathered in India.
Conference Proceedings Published Read
Alex Trisoglio's comprehensive compilation of the conference
proceedings for an insider's view of the day-by-day unfolding of events
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche
Khyentse Rinpoche placed the aspirations of the translators solidly in
the Buddhadharma framework of bodhicitta, wisdom, and compassion.
IMPRESSIONS: FIRST PERSON
Light Shines on Historic Conference
By Steven Goodman
Goodman, co-director of Asian and Comparative Studies at the California
Institute of Integral Studies, takes you along for the wild ride from a
participant’s point of view.
Never Stop Asking
By Lynn Hoberg
Hoberg shares what it’s like to volunteer behind the scenes of a
historic event when emotions are running high and so much is at stake.
Video of highlights of the conference.
A colorful slide show of the conference participants, lamas, volunteers, and locals.
Rinpoche’s keynote address at the translation conference.
Conference Proceedings: A comprehensive guide to the conference.
Rinpoche’s teachings on Parting from the Four Attachments,
June 2 through 11, at the International Buddhist Academy in Nepal, will
be posted on the SI website. This is Rinpoche’s only scheduled public
teaching for the rest of this year. Although it may not be possible for
you to take part in the retreat in Kathmandu, you can download MP3
files of the teachings and do your own retreat at home.
Visit the Siddhartha’s Intent website often for messages from Rinpoche and updates about his teachings. Here’s information about a few of the recent postings.
- Podcast of Rinpoche’s opening address to the conference “Translating the Words of the Buddha.”
- “A Short Note from Someone Pretending to Do Retreat: A Message from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.”
- Rinpoche’s commentary on “The Sutra of the Recollection of the Nobel Three Jewels.”
The great Translator Vairochana
the conference began I was skeptical about the need to translate the
Kangyur, a body of text that is mostly used as an object of worship and
is not actually read. It seemed that Western Buddhists could just
as easily prostrate to the Tibetan volumes as we could to an English
translation. But by the close of the first day of the conference,
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoch had me convinced
that in order for Buddhism to authentically develop in the West, the
words of the Buddha must be accessible to Western practicioners, and
therefore must be translated."
-- Laura Lopez, Conference Volunteer
what some of the conference patrons and participants have to say about
the importance of translating the words of the Buddha.
Buddhist books will make] an invaluable contribution to a deep and
lasting understanding of the Buddhist tradition in western lands.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
of the dharma in non-Tibetan and non-Sanskrit languages will create
great merit and through this so many people can attain liberation and
enlightenment.” His Holiness Sakya Trizin
the words of the Buddha and commentarial treatises from Tibetan into
English is a necessary foundation for the genuine study and practice of
the Buddhadharma for English speakers.” His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
“What we are doing here is really serving mankind and the world at large.” Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
Doboom Tulku Rinpoche
emphasized the importance of “a new spirit of objectivity and respect
for the indigenous Tibetan Buddhist tradition” (in translation) to
ensure the survival of pure Buddhadharma in the modern world.
Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
called the Kangyur, which the translators aspire to translate within 25
years, “the most precious of all the scriptures” because they are
accepted by all Buddhist schools.
“Having the Kangyur in
Western languages, starting with English, is crucial to establishing a
genuine lineage of Western Buddhism.” Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. PHOTO BY COREY KOHN
words of the Buddha are] a treasure and heritage of mankind that needs
to be preserved and translated into other languages” and that can
“bring peace and harmony to the world.” Pema Wangyal Rinpoche
than 11,000 people from around the world wrote letters of support to
the translators during the conference. The letters were presented to
conference participants in the form of an impressive scroll. See
more photos in the
new KF slideshow.
MORE CONFERENCE MATERIAL
- For more information about the conference, including archived blogs from Deer Park, see Recent News.
- Join the Translation Conference Facebook page.
- Watch conference participant David Kittlestrom’s personal slide show and read his blog about the conference.
Coming in the next issue:
- Beneficiary Profiles: Getting to knowsome of the recipients of KF scholarships and grants.
- New developments in the Buddhist Literature Heritage Project
Khyentse Foundation is now on Facebook.
We will be posting volunteer opportunities, news, and other updates. Join us!
For all the latest downloads, audio, video, slideshows, and more, visit the KF downloads page. We have lots of new material this month.
among the first sponsors to provide the seed money to launch the
Buddhist Literary Heritage Project. Your generous participation in this
historic milestone in bringing the Buddhadharma to the world will help
realize this legacy for generations to come.
Thank You for Reading
Translation Skeptic's Q&A
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s invitation, more than 50 of the
Tibetan-to-English translators dedicated to the preservation of the
Buddhadharma and 7 incarnate lamas traveled to Deer Park Institute
in Bir, India, to discuss the aspirations and practicalities of
translating the words of the Buddha and to set goals for the next
5, 25, and 100 years. The conference, held from March 15-20, 2009,
brought together teachers from the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism
and translators from all over the world. The vision of the conference
was vast, the atmosphere was enthusiastic and cooperative, and the
motivation of the participants to bring the Buddhadharma to the West
The resulting Buddhist
Literary Heritage Project is immense, ambitious, and important—but it’s
difficult for some people to get their minds around it. Translating the
entire Buddhist canon will take an enormous amount of energy, and some
people have asked us simply: “Why?” Here we’ve attempted to address
questions about the project by using the words of Dzongsar Khyentse
Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Q: My lama is part of a living tradition. Why do we need to dredge up the past by translating old sutras?
living traditions of Dharma that still exist today—for example, in
Japan, China, Thailand, and Burma—have only survived because they had
the foresight to translate the original sacred Buddhist texts into
their own languages. Also, those in the Tibetan community who are still
able to understand and communicate in classical Tibetan are rare. In
about 100 years there will be almost no Tibetans who can read the words
of Kangyur and Tengyur and understand their meaning, and very soon it
will be too late to do anything about it.
The Dalai Lama: I
often tell young Tibetans that if they cannot easily understand
Tibetan, then they should read English translations. Now even my own
brother uses both texts. He reads the Tibetan, and sometimes when it’s
a little difficult to understand the meaning of certain terminology,
then he reads the English. He compares the two, and finds it very
Q: Why do we need all this text? I have enough practices to do already.
Every religion has an original book—Christians have the Bible, Moslems
have the Koran, and Buddhists have the Tripitaka. These are of vital
importance because what Buddha taught us must always be the final word
on any given subject, not what we find in the Shastras—and definitely
not what’s to be found in the Tibetan commentaries…. The trend today is
for teachers, priests, scholars, politicians, and fanatics to obscure
the original meaning of important texts by interpreting them in a way
that supports their own personal agendas. This happens in all
religions, including Buddhism, and when such problems arise, our beacon
of truth can only be the words of Buddha.
Read more Q&As...
If you have questions about the Buddhist Literary Heritage Project, please send them to us and we will ask Rinpoche and/or translation team members to address them and post the answers on the KF website.
Conference participants in the Manjushri Hall at Deer Park
|FOCUS ON TRANSLATING THE WORDS OF THE BUDDHA
Heritage Project Launched
than 50 of the translators dedicated to the preservation of the
Buddhadharma and 7 incarnate lamas from the major schools of Tibetan
Buddhism have resolved to make universally accessible the entire
Buddhist literary heritage within the next 100 years.
has named this monumental effort the Buddhist Literary Heritage
Project. At the repeated requests of all the conference participants,
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche agreed to be the interim leader and
caretaker for this historic undertaking. The action begins immediately
with the 5- and 25-year goals that were the essence of the conference
Khyentse Foundation, which sponsored the conference, was appointed as the interim secretariat to provide administrative support during the planning process and to begin identifying financial partners. Alex Trisoglio's comprehensive compilation of the conference proceedings gives an insider's view of the day-by-day unfolding of events.
number of translators have already offered to train more translators,
develop the necessary tools and resources, and provide editorial
support for the project. And leading translation groups from around the
world have pledged to translate particular sections of the
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche
The Importance of the View
is very important, and funding is necessary of course, but even more
important than that is bodhicitta. Without that, what are we going to
translate? What is the use?... With bodhicitta it’s possible to develop
wisdom, not just knowledge. That wisdom is what we’re trying to
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche with a portrait of HH Dilgo Khyente Rinpoche. PHOTO BY COREY KOHN
Khyentse Rinpoche placed the aspirations of the conference solidly in
the Buddhadharma framework of bodhicitta, wisdom, and compassion. He
emphasized the importance of aspiration and merit, and invoked the
spirit of Tibetan Patron King Trisong Deutsen; Shantarakshita,
who was instrumental in introducing Buddhism to Tibet; Guru Rinpoche
Padmasambhava; and the great translator Vairochana. Read more of Tulku
Jigme’s words of wisdom to conference participants on pages 50-52 of
the Conference Proceedings.
| IMPRESSIONS: FIRST PERSON
Light Shines on a Historic Conference
By Steven Goodman
From left: John Canti, Zagtsa Paldor, Steven Goodman and Doboom Tulku Rinpoche in discussion. PHOTO BY DAVID KITTLESTROM
been two months since the conclusion of a most amazing conference on
Translating the Words of the Buddha, hosted at Deer Park Institute in
Bir. Here’s what stands out for me—some impressions to give a bit of
the flavor of what it was like to be part of these historic events.
the plane from San Francisco to Chicago, I remember wondering, after
all the planning that went into this conference—“What will happen
there? Why are we doing this? Why does it feel at once ordinary (I’ve
been to India and to conferences many times) and extraordinary? Why are
so many Khenpos, Rinpoches, and translators flying long distances at
such an inconvenient time? What do we imagine will happen?” ...I
thought about how the scholastic and practice traditions of Nalanda
were brought to Tibet and, over several hundred years, translated into
the mother tongue of that new nation, thereby assuring the survival of
many precious lineages that did not survive the harsh ravages of time
grand adventure of cultural translation, I thought, was a heroic and
visionary endeavor perhaps never to be rivaled. And as the plane
touched down in India, I thought, “Well maybe, just maybe, something
equally visionary is about to happen at this conference in Deer Park
Read more from Professor Goodman…
them have me perform deeds that are conducive to their happiness.
Whoever resorts to me, may it never be in vain. Whether they look at me
with anger or admiration, may this always be a cause for accomplishing
all their goals.
—Shantideva, The Bodhicharyavatara
Never Stop Asking
By Lynn Hoberg
A group of conference participants and volunteers met with HH the Dalai Lama. Lynn Hoberg is bottom left, next to conference facilitator Ivy Ang. PHOTO BY MATTHIEU RICARD
early August of 2008 and I’m speeding through Vancouver in my rental
car. I’m late, and I’m beginning to realize that, after dropping a
friend in Yaletown, I’ve misjudged the distance back to the University
of British Columbia campus and I’m going to be more than 20
minutes late for my lunch meeting. As I drive, I’m thinking about my
reluctance to commit to commit to being the travel coordinator for the
translation conference in Bir.
have yet to agree to volunteer for the project (although from the
beginning I knew I would say yes) because I need to be sure that I can
take the time to travel to India, be confident that my finances can
bear the time off, and be clear about what the team will need. I have
to be sure that I can actually do what is being asked of me! But as I
careen through the Vancouver streets, I’m also thinking about how I
pray to be asked to do things like this, and how I’m amazed and honored
that people think I can do these jobs well. So I race through the
university campus, hoping the conference team won’t reconsider just
because I’m grossly tardy to our meeting.
months later I’m sitting in Delhi International airport, waiting for
Cangioli’s plane to arrive from San Francisco, just 45 minutes after my
flight from New York.
Read more from Lynn…