Thursday, March 12, 2009

Text of Sakya Trizin's Letter to Dzongsar Khyentse

"Your Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche:

"Firstly I want to encourage you in this very important and worthwhile endeavour. As there are so many non Tibetan speaking people who are very eager to learn dharma it is very important to have good translation and good ways of presenting dharma. So all of you there at the conference should work hard so that we can achieve perfect presentations of the dharma in non Tibetan and non Sanskrit languages. This will also create great merit and through this so many people can attain liberation and enlightenment.

"Whether you come to doing translation of the dharma through academic and scholarly interests or through the desire to practice, both will lead to better dharma. When you know the deeper meanings of the dharma then you will have the aspirations to practice, so the academic path will lead into the practice path. When you learn the deeper meanings as a practitioner your practice will develop well. My main translators are both academics or scholars and practitioners, as are many of the other well known translators among you.

"There are a number of important issues that your conference could address. The authenticity of translations is a problem.

"We should try to emulate the translations of the olden times transmissions of dharma from India into Tibet. At that time all the Tibetan translations were done with one Indian Master and one Tibetan translator working together. Of course at that time the situation is very different, people had no distractions, they were fully devoted to that work and they were not just ordinary persons, but all noble ones. In that way their translations were perfect. Of course at this time it is almost impossible to be just like them, but we must try at least to follow their ways translation and it is best to have two people, Tibetan and English, working together.

"I also feel that we must always translate even if imperfectly. Nobody can make the perfect translation from the beginning. But at least we should translate, and then somebody else from that base can make it even more pure, and then again somebody else can again translate it, and in that way eventually we aim to have the perfect translation.

"In doing the translation work it is very important not to translate in haste in the midst of a being busy with our general life. We must devote our time to the translation. We must have time to think carefully and chose the right words and we must read the commentaries on whatever we are translating, because commentaries make the meaning clear and without fully understanding the meanings one cannot translate correctly. Many root texts are very vivid and condensed. Tibetan words are very evocative of great depth of meaning, so many short phrases can contain a lot of very condensed meanings. Thus only through the commentaries can you the real meaning in that very short phrase, and be able to translate it correctly.

"The need to restrict the distribution of tantric texts that you choose to translate needs to be addressed. Secret Tantric texts should be translated by and only distributed to those who have the authority and qualification to read them through having received the empowerment from an authentic Master. Moreover it is not enough to just state or write the restriction, as people do not believe this and take no notice. So a controlled method of distribution is required.

"There are of course issues of resources so that people to have the time and space to translate well. Sponsorship should be worked out. Experienced teachers especially those who have a close connection with the west and English people should decide what should be translated and then work out sponsoring for that.

"A network of translators is a very good idea. Otherwise someone else is translating the same text, which is a waste of energy and time. They should exchange information so they do not unknowingly repeat the same translations and they can help each other choose the right terminologies.

"I will note your progress with interest and I wish your conference the greatest success. We pray that you may live long and fulfill your noble works!"

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