KF Hosts Landmark Translation Conference

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Khyentse Foundation, and Deer Park Institute will host a landmark translators conference, “Translating the Words of the Buddha,” at Deer Park, Bir, India, March 16 through 20, 2009. The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will chair the conference.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, His Holiness Mindroling Trichen, His Holiness the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa, Sogyal Rinpoche, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, and Khyentse Jigme Rinpoche have all given their blessings to the gathering as honorary patrons, and other patrons are in the process of confirming their support.

Without the work of translators, western Dharma students would not be able to practice and study the Dharma. Yet, despite the translators’ extraordinary contributions, many of the most important Buddhist texts, including major teachings of the Buddha himself, have not yet been translated. Also, translators frequently don’t know what others are doing; there is no agreement on the translation of key terms; and communication among leading translators is often minimal.

The main objectives of the conference, therefore, are:
To provide a forum for a small group of about 40 leading Tibetan-English Dharma translators and related groups to review present translation efforts and to identify major challenges
To discuss ways to improve communication among translators and to facilitate coordination and collaboration, including creation of a translation database
To initiate actions that will ensure the highest standards of translation for the future, to identify priority texts for translation, and to distribute high-quality translations

To facilitate intensive discussion and movement toward concrete actions, participation is on an invitational basis. Invitations are being extended to a small number of leading Tibetan-English translators from all traditions (Kagyu, Gelug, Nyingma, and Sakya), from all areas (academics, practitioners, Buddhist scholars), and from roles that support the work of translation (major publishers, patrons, and so on). The intention is for this group of invited participants to represent a critical mass of all key players involved in Dharma translation from Tibetan to English. We hope that future gatherings will extend the dialog to many other translators, including those translating texts into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages, and from Chinese, Japanese, classical Indian, and other languages.

Translation of Dharma texts is a high-priority area of Khyentse Foundation’s work. The Foundation is already supporting, on a small scale, several translation projects and groups in different parts of the world. The coming conference is Rinpoche’s initiative to encourage conversation among major translation groups. The Foundation’s commitment extends past the time of the actual conference and into the future, beginning (as finances and fundraising allow) with financial assistance in translating selected high-priority texts, creating a translation database, and helping to realize other key conference outcomes.

In ways like this, your contributions to Khyentse Foundation are helping to make the Dharma accessible to future generations of practitioners for the benefit of all beings. More information about the Translators Conference will appear in future issues of the KF Communiqué.