KF Special Feature
Reading sutras to welcome the Lunar New Year. Image courtesy the Kumarajiva Project
A Chinese New Year Offering from the Kumarajiva Project
New Sutra Collection and Audiobooks
Just last May, Rinpoche taught on “Cultivating Trust in the Great Vehicle,” and now Chinese readers can explore this text along with 24 other sutras, many available in Chinese for the first time. These new translations also include the single-page “The Perfection of Prajnaparamita in One Syllable” and other important and commonly cited texts on such core subjects as refuge, dependent arising, emptiness, and compassion.
In addition to the new sutra collection, the Kumarajiva Project has produced 20 audiobooks in modern Chinese, most of them recorded by dedicated volunteers. Designed to reach an even larger audience, these audiobooks include sutras on taming the mind and pacifying pandemics and feature background music, some composed especially for the recordings.
The words were really clear and compelling, while the background music was so well suited to the text that I was transported directly to Vulture’s Peak … The more I listened the more my eyes filled with tears, and my restless mind began to settle down.
— Vanessa Huang, audiobook listener
The Kumarajiva Project’s continuation of the 2,000-year-old tradition of translating Buddhist texts into Chinese. Oil painting, offered to the Kumarajiva Project by Taiwan artist Ya-chi Zeng. For a closer look at the painting, click on the image.
Intensive Translator Training Program
Under Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s direction, about a year ago the Kumarajiva Project officially launched a 6-year intensive training project to groom the next generation of translators of Tibetan Buddhist texts into Chinese. Participants were chosen through a rigorous selection process and receive the training free of charge. Currently there are 22 trainees from around the world, who meet regularly with teachers and supervisors online.
The work of translators is really difficult. Teachers [like me] have thrones to sit on, food to eat, and people to interact with, while you translators, not only do you not have thrones, but you also have pretty boring tasks, just sitting at your desks and working alone. And no matter how well you translate, there are always obstacles of all kinds, including critics who say, “This is right,” “That isn’t right.”
Buddhist sutras have so many stories of bodhisattvas overcoming great hardships for the dharma—even offering their own bodies to tigers and other beings. I think that in this degenerated world, the effort that you make to translate one verse of the dharma is no different from the endeavors of those bodhisattvas. You should think of your work and commitment in this way.
— Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, addressing the trainees in March 2021
Watch the full video of Rinpoche’s address (in Tibetan with English subtitles).
Kumarajiva trainees have proved to be talented, committed, and highly motivated, and once they have completed their training, they will be welcomed to the translation team. Although the path to becoming a translator may not be easy, Kumarajiva trainees are meeting the challenge.
I have a full-time job and can only participate in the training in my spare time, so at the moment the goal of becoming a qualified translator seems somewhat out of reach. On the other hand, after a year’s rigorous training I can now express myself better and understand instructions in Tibetan. My ability to follow Khyentse Rinpoche’s teachings in Tibetan has improved as well. This has made me both more appreciative of the profound benefits of translating sutras and hopeful for the future.
— Wang Xiang, Berlin
If you asked me whether it’s worth giving up so many worldly benefits to participate in the training and work of the Kumarajiva Project, I’d definitely say “yes.” The teachers and students I’ve met over the past year are all working for the same goal. If we put the same amount of effort into worldly work we would all earn a decent income. But we’ve all recognized that even if we became really successful, we wouldn’t be able to escape the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death and would still experience the suffering of emotions. The temporary hardships of study or not being understood by family and friends can be ignored when compared to the suffering of rebirth in the six realms. At the same time, the benefits of liberation for ourselves and others are incomparable.
— Wang Jiao, Auckland
Described by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as a “challenging but vital” project, the Kumarajiva Project is making great strides towards the goal of producing high-quality Chinese translations of Buddhist canonical texts. Thanks to the translators, teaching faculty, trainees, donors, volunteers, and the support of the larger Buddhist community, the Kumarajiva Project is able to offer online teachings and regular online global sutra recitations, as well as both written and aural sutra translations. Find out more about the Kumarajiva Project.