Thursday, December 17, 2009
Due to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's constant endeavor, a large temple structure was built around the Asura Cave of Padmasambhava. It is now continued and has been enlarged by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Many groups of monks and many other people have since then been in the traditional three year retreat at this sacred location. Here you see one such group about to enter.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Don't miss this rare opportunity to bid on priceless original works of art by Lotus Outreach Chairman and Founder, Khyentse Norbu! 100% of proceeds from this exclusive 10-day auction will benefit the women and children served by Lotus Outreach in India and Cambodia. Adorn your home and support the cause. Place your bid now at http://shop.ebay.com/lotus_outreach/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25!
More details here.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Return of Tulku Urgyen Yangsi RinpocheWe are delighted to report that at 3:45pm, Saturday, November 21, 2009, Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche arrived at Kathmandu’s Tribuvan Airport aboard an Indian Airlines flight direct from Delhi. Accompanied by his parents, Neten Chokling Rinpoche and Khandro Tendzin Chöyang Gyari, Yangsi Rinpoche was escorted to Nepal by Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Namdol Gyatso Lama and two attendants. So much joy and excitement was in the air! The afternoon was very reminiscent of Yangsi Rinpoche’s arrival at Tribuvan Airport in November 2008 when he landed in Nepal for the first time for the special occasion of his formal enthronement at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery.
At the airport, more than 30 lamas, nuns and laypeople made up the joyful welcoming party — including Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche and Phakchok Rinpoche, with their respective wives and families, as well as Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s wife and his mother were also present, as was Tenpa Yarphel and Tenpa’s son, Tashi. Ani Maya, head nun at Nagi Gompa and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s close personal attendant for several decades, was also present to welcome Yangsi Rinpoche.
Just as he had done at the airport one year ago, Yangsi Rinpoche serenely and graciously accepted a kata (white scarf) from each person who had come to greet him. Smiling, he touched his forehead to theirs. Seeing this special child, a Nepali passerby in the crowd immediately stopped and bowed before him; Yangsi quickly responded by warmly touching his forehead to this fellow’s forehead, too.
More details on www.shedrub.org
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Buddhist Literary Heritage Project
Dear Supporter of Dharma Translation,
In March of 2009, over 12,000 of us signed a letter of support to the Translating the Words of The Buddha conference––a gathering of over 50 of the world's top Tibetan-English translators––letting Dharma translators around the world know that we appreciate and support their translation effort. At the conclusion of this conference, the assembled group of translators and patrons pledged to translate the entire collection of Buddha's teaching and commentaries into English within 100 years.
Also at the conclusion of the conference, the attendees co-created the Buddhist Literary Heritage Project (BLHP) as an organizational structure charged with overseeing this tremendous endeavor. The conference participants further requested Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to take on the interim responsibility of overseeing the establishment of the necessary structure. Khyentse Rinpoche recently appointed Huang Jing Rui as the interim executive director of BLHP. Following this note is a letter from her describing the progress made so far.
We look forward to keeping you up to date on this exciting undertaking.
If you are receiving multiple copies of this email, it may be because you had signed the petition or registered with us using different email accounts. In this case, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us which email account(s) we should be sending our updates to.
"If you are receiving this as a forwarded email, you are welcome to join our mailing list by sending an email to email@example.com, with the subject title: Subscribe."
Thank you again for supporting Dharma translation.
The BLHP Team
My name is Huang Jing Rui, and I am honored to be newly appointed as the interim executive director of the Buddhist Literary Heritage Project (BLHP). The goal of this new initiative is to see all of the vast and extraordinary riches of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist literature, particularly the Kangyur and Tengyur, translated into English and other modern languages and made universally accessible within a hundred years.
Over the past few decades, many groups and individuals have been working with great dedication to translate a wide range of Buddhist teachings into English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and other languages. The BLHP grew from the jointly expressed wishes of more than 50 such translators, teachers, and academics who met in Bir, India, in March 2009 at the Translating the Words of the Buddha conference.
Conceived as a project with its own activity and funding, and not simply as a forum for discussion, the BLHP clearly needs an effective organizational structure. At the Bir conference, the participants requested Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to take on the interim responsibility of overseeing the establishment of the necessary structure.
In the six months since the conference, many interesting developments have taken place toward setting up that interim organizational structure, together with the key policies and strategic plans that will get the BLHP going. These steps include:
* May: Planning meeting
* June: Editorial policy meeting
* July: Appointment of executive director and working committee
* July: Confirmation of two “proof of concept” pilot translations
* September: Four-day working committee planning meeting
The Buddhist Literary Heritage Project will officially begin to operate in January 2010, managed by an interim working committee consisting of eight members:
* Chair: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
* Executive director: Huang Jing Rui
* Committee members: Ani Kunga Chodron, Gene Smith, Ivy Ang, John Canti, Steven Goodman, and Cangioli Che
The BLHP interim working committee is committed to an open, inclusive, and collaborative approach that seeks the involvement of Dharma teachers, translators, academics, scholars, and researchers from all segments of the Buddhist community.
The BLHP has taken birth from the great aspirations of teachers, translators, and people like you, but it is still in its infancy. As we develop, learn, and move forward, we humbly seek your patience, understanding, and goodwill. Your ongoing support is absolutely necessary for the project to accomplish its objective of preserving and making available the precious teachings of the Buddha.
Finally, we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all the past and present volunteers and donors, who have generously offered time, money, experience, expertise, effort, and goodwill to the BLHP. We look forward to your continued support.
Please feel free to forward this letter to anybody whom you feel might be interested in our project. Thank you.
Yours in the Dharma,
Huang Jing Rui
Buddhist Literary Heritage Project (BLHP)
For more information and to find out how you can support this project, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can download a PDF of the conference proceedings from
You are also welcome to join our BLHP Facebook group site on
Monday, October 12, 2009
Togden Shakya Shri - The Life and Liberation of a Tibetan YoginThis Namthar, or traditional Tibetan biography, welcomes the reader to the extraordinary dimension of a realized yogin. Its pages recount the inspiring milestones in the life of the revered Togden of Drugu (1853-1919), a portrayal which is also precious as the mirroring of a vanished world. The chronicle glows with inspiring facts and miraculous happenings, as well as insights provided by numerous letters between the Togden and some of the greatest masters of that era.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Kungo Kalsang Choten, the half-brother of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, just passed away in Nepal.
More details at the Pundarika website.
Before escaping Tibet with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959, Kungo-la served as a high-ranking minister in Old Tibet’s parliament. His teacher after 1959 was Kungo Tak Lama, the Dalai Lama’s main advisor at that time. He went with His Holiness to Dharamsala to help establish Tibetans in exile and to work in His Holiness’ office. Progressive changes were made in the exiled government’s structure to include a younger generation of ministers. Kungo-la gave exceptional service to every community and monastery in which he resided, as well as caring for small Tibetan children through establishing a daycare school.
In approximately 1980, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche began building Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, a monastery in Boudhanath. Tulku Urgyen asked Kungo-la to come to Nepal to help establish the monastery, and he became the monastery manager, as well as the main teacher for young monks for 13 years. He assisted Tulku Urgyen in giving many empowerments. He then completed two 3-year retreats, the first at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, the second near Swayambhunath, during which time he came to be regarded as a great practitioner.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Khen Rinpoche's biography on Rigpa News.
Nyoshul Khenpo was such a consummate master of Dzogpachenpo, and such an authority on the teachings of Longchenpa, that his disciples regarded him as Longchenpa in person. He was the teacher of many of the younger generation of lamas, as well as a number of western Buddhist teachers.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Here he is interviewed by Buddhist geeks online magazine.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sherab Dorje's memoirs are now available, and endorsed by none other than our own Erik Pema Kunsang: "An entertaining and original work of literature by a well-known western Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, hailed as 'deeply moving and...remarkably well written.'"
Here's a touching excerpt involving a meeting with Tulku Urgyen:
One day, I came out of a meditation session just as the sun was setting over the valley. The sunset was prolonged, spectacular and beautiful, stealing my breath away. Just then, the pattern of light and cloud, shade and shadow, color and movement, shifted entirely, and the sunset seemed to start all over again. I was dumbfounded.
Then there was another complete shift; and another. It was as if the animating engines of the world had been tuned to play its entire greatest hits package of once-in-a-lifetime sunsets in the span of a single evening. Now, I had flown under rainbow arches over the Caribbean at sunset, and seen a lot of beautiful desert, ocean and mountain sunsets in my travels. None remotely compared to this.
After hours seemingly had passed, with one sunset transitioning into another, and just when I thought that no sight could ever be more sublime, I happened to glance up toward Tulku Urgyen’s balcony outside his room on the floor above the temple hall. There he stood, beaming from ear to ear, meeting my gaze, laughing and laughing, as if to say, this display of phenomena is quite a bit of fun when you have total mastery over it, isn’t it? He turned and went back inside, and suddenly the show was over.
Tulku Urgyen had a way of turning anything into a reminder to observe the nature of mind. I asked him for instruction on the meditation practice of Vajrasattva, the second of the four extraordinary preliminary meditations. This practice involves a detailed visualization of purifying all of one’s physical, verbal and mental impurities. Tulku Urgyen’s approach was to perform even this practice without complexity, simply by remaining within the state of recognition of the essence of mind while visualizing and reciting. How amazing!
One day, years later, when he had moved up to a small room that stood alone on the roof of the temple, I sat outside Tulku Urgyen’s room all afternoon waiting for an opportunity to enter and seek clarification of a practice point.
He was very busy; somehow Tulku Urgyen could stay in retreat, and yet serve a seemingly endless stream of visitors, high and low of social station and spiritual pedigree, without wavering from his practice. He was always consulted regarding the affairs of Ka Nying monastery, the retreat center in Parping, and who knows what else.
I was finally allowed to enter, and there was a quick exchange. Acting slightly annoyed with my willfulness, Tulku Urgyen said, “Why don’t you go down to Boudhanath and take teachings from a truly great master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He really knows a lot about the dharma and can answer any question.”
I looked him right in the eye and glibly replied, “I don’t want to, and I won’t go down to see His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse, or anyone else, because I have already found a perfect teacher right here, and have neither need nor interest to look elsewhere.” That really cracked him up.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
We crowded into the small dark room and sat shoulder to shoulder. The ceiling was covered with years of soot so thick that black stalactites had formed. My eyes teared from the fumes of incense and the yak dung smoke leaking from a crude wood stove. In the dark corner, light spilled from the doorway illuminating an ancient face, deeply etched from the harsh Tibetan life at 14,000 feet. There, leaning back in her meditation box was Sherab Zangmo spinning her prayer wheel.
When Sherab Zangmo was a young nun, during a dark retreat (a Dzogchen practice of staying in total darkness for 49 days and nights), she had a vision of Yeshe Sogyal, Padmasambhava’s principle consort.
“Three times she offered me mudras (hand gestures) and then she became Tsang Yang Gyamtso (the student of the first Tsoknyi Rinpoche who started Getchak Nunnery). He came to rest on top of my head and then he dissolved into my body, speech and mind. We became one. I cried and cried. That moment I had a direct experience of the nature of my mind. I have had many experiences, good and bad, but my mind has remained stable, neither good nor bad.”read on...
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Buddhism In The West
by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
My thoughts on Buddhism in the West have actually changed over the years. At this point I feel very positive and optimistic; not that I was skeptical or doubtful in the past, but one becomes more sure over time. There seems to be greater possibility for the roots of buddhism to be established in the West. I have become much more certain of this from personal experience—certain to a certain degree. ...
Thursday, June 04, 2009
This photo was taken at Nagi Gompa in 1978 during a break when Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse conferred the empowerments for the Three Sections of the Great Perfection and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche gave the One Hundred Cho empowerments.
It is easy to recognize Dzongsar Khyentse, Chokyi Nyima and Sangye Nyenpa, Rinpoches.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Through lively anecdotes and stories this highly revered Buddhist meditation master and scholar tells about his life of study, retreat, and teaching. The formative events of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s life, and those insights and experiences that caused him to mature into the warm, brilliant, and highly realized meditation master and teacher he was, are deeply inspiring. The details of his early life and spiritual training reveal an authentic and human view of Tibetan culture, as well as the hardships endured by the Tibetans who fled their country and reestablished their tradition in exile.
The first part of this volume includes Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s early life story, told in his own words. The second half of the book comprises recollections by Khyentse Rinpoche’s wife; his grandson and spiritual heir, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche; Tenga Rinpoche; Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche; Orgyen Topgyal Rinpoche; Kenpo Pema Sherab; the Queen Mother of Bhutan; Trulshik Rinpche; and Pewar Tulku.
Brilliant Moon: The Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse
Ani Jinba Palmo, translator and compiler
Michael Tweed, editor
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We are happy to announce that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche will be sharing five sets of teachings at his retreat center in Denmark.
You may have friends who you would love to meet Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and be inspired through his wonderful teachings.
You can forward this email with the link to a small brochure card as widely as possible. You can also print it out, in color at best, and post it on an appropriate notice board. That will insure that many other people can receive the benefits of Rinpoche's deep instructions.
The sets of teachings are given in at progressively deeper levels, so if you come to Buddhist teachings for the first time, we suggest that you attend the first sets.
You can find more details on http://gomdedk.dk/Eng/SummerCamp2009program_eng.htm
Your hosts for SummerCamp 2009,
Rangjung Yeshe Gomde
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
On growing up too fast
So, today I have something to tell you, that is especially for the teenagers, especially. I don't know whether you realize this, this is really important. It's ... important is not the right word. I don't know what to say. I'm trying to fish for a word.
There is something so incredible about being young. I made a mistake by trying to grow up fast, and I'm sure there are a lot of other people who have made the same mistake. Please for your own sake, do not grow up fast, because you can never rewind and play back. Once you play, that's it!
But this is easier said than done, no? ... a whole society, books, television, movies ... all trying to make you grow up. And you yourself, as a human being ... human nature is competing: "Who will grow up fastest?" I'm sure you even tell yourselves sometimes, "Grow up! C'mon!" ... not the right thing to do.
On discipline and depression
OK. One last word. Now, I hate to use the word discipline. The trouble is this is the one thing that you don't want to hear, discipline ... But even to make a cappuccino, you need a discipline ... you need a discipline, of course. Skateboarding, all these things, they all need discipline. In our modern society, one of the biggest problems is depression, really really feeling down and depressed, and people turning to drugs and alcohol and all of that. If you really look into the root of the depression, it is because of lack of discipline.
Discipline is so important ... And when I say discipline I'm talking about something so simple, huh? I'm not talking about like getting up in the morning, 5 o'clock ... you know, like things like that ... You make your own discipline, such as, I don't know ... something like, "I will not go to Starbucks on Wednesdays." Really, if you took that kind of vow, something as simple as this, in the future, the ratio of visits to your shrink will be definitely reduced. Even as simple as not going to Starbucks on Wednesday. I'm serious. I'm serious ... If you can manage ... if you do that one year, good! Very good. You have learned the art of controlling yourself.
If you want to be brave (you know, maybe you think, not going to Starbucks on Wednesdays would be too simple for you) then take a vow: Next six months, whoever it is, you will not yell at them. That's a difficult one, huh? That's a difficult one ... But it will give you amazing, amazing power. Because ... you all want to be indestructible, don't you? Well, if you want to be indestructible, why volunteer yourself, to become an easy target? So, you can become very brave and take that kind of vow also.
Question: If we were take a vow, for six months never to yell at somebody, how would you be ... you know, sort of approach a possible inevitable failure, or how should you approach this ...
Khyentse Rinpoche: Ah, failure is good. Failure is good. You have to fail many times. Take a vow again. Take a vow again ... To shape the human character a lot of things have to go wrong, you know. You shouldn't be afraid [of failure].
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
It had been the plan of the translators to include the more dense information on the transmission lineages, which didn't make it into the final version, some "other place". This blog seems to be the most appropriate place. So I and Michael will be begin to post some of the missing pieces here.
In this piece Tulku Urgyen tells about how Samten Gyatso, his main guru, passed on the New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa to various other masters.
It is thanks to Samten Gyatso that the Chokling Tersar was spread far and wide, because neither Tsikey Chokling nor Uncle Tersey ever transmitted it in full. Of that generation only Neten Chokling did so, but only once. That is why Tsewang Norbu pointed them out at Riwoche.
Basically, the transmission of the Chokling Tersar that all the great lamas of those days received came through Samten Gyatso. He gave the Chokling Tersar three times in Central Tibet. Many great lamas received the transmission then, including the omniscient 15th Karmapa, the great Drukchen, Taklung Tsetrul and the three masters with the title Jamgön who resided at Jang Taklung. Later on, he went back to Kham and at the request of Nangchen Tsoknyi, the guru of the king of Nangchen, Samten Gyatso offered the complete Chokling Tersar transmission at Nangchen Tsechu Monastery. At Namgyal Tse monastery in Surmang, at the sponsorship and request of Surmang Tentrul, many lamas received the Tersar transmission, including Tentrul himself, Surmang Garwang, Dzigar Kongtrul and others; all together there were eighteen major masters among the gathering of 300 lamas. After this, Samten Gyatso proceeded to Derge where he offered the great Situ parts of the Tersar, including the Tukdrub cycle. At another point, when the son of the 15th Karmapa, the reincarnation of the great Kongtrul, visited the seat of Chokgyur Lingpa, Samten Gyatso gave him several transmissions, most notably the empowerment for Tukdrub Barchey Kunsel. These were the major transmissions Samten Gyatso gave, but, of course, he bestowed empowerments upon an untold number of lesser known lamas and practitioners.
At one time, Samten Gyatso was invited to Palpung Monastery, one of the chief monasteries in the Derge kingdom, which was headed by Situ Wangchok Gyalpo, the predecessor of the present-day Situ Rinpoche. He transmitted part of the Chokling Tersar to Situ Wangchok Gyalpo and was therefore counted as one of Situ’s gurus.
Dzongsar Khyentse, the reincarnation of the great Khyentse, came to Samten Gyatso’s mountain top hermitage of Dzong-go Ling. There Dzongsar Khyentse requested the transmission of the sections of the Chokling Tersar composed by the 15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje, which he had not received.
Photo: Palpung monastery in Kham, 1998.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Something very unusual just happened at Gomde retreat center in Denmark. Two of the free-roaming horses were seen in an hour long elaborate dance. "I couldn't believe my own eyes," exclaimed Vetenarian Hans Jorgensen, who owns the neighboring farm and is also a dance teacher. "It looked exactly like the steps in Argentinian tango, but with a few sexy refinements. And they didn't learn it from me. Perhaps there's something about that past-life you Buddhist ha've been talking about."
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Often Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche would let people gather around him in the evening and begin the meditation session with a short set of traditional chants passed down from his own gurus. These chants have been continued by his four lama sons on their teaching tours around the world.
Here is a version by Sascha and Nanna, two Danish girls:
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Boeddhistische Omroep Stichting in Holland shows a very nice documentary with Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's four lama sons, the parents of the reincarnation, and some of his older Western students. Click here.
Photo by Olav Nyhus.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Dear Precious Sangha,
We just heard the news that our lineage master, His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche, has reached his parinirvana on March 27th, 2009 at 3:30 pm (Karnataka, South India Time) or 3:00 am Pacific Time USA.
H. H. Penor Rinpoche was born in 1932 and was recognized by Khenpo Ngawang Palzang and the Fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche as the Third Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche, the Eleventh Throneholder of Palyul Monastery and throughout his 77 years completed many vast and profound Dharma activities. From 1992 to 2003, H.H. Penor Rinpoche served as the Supreme Head of the Nyingma School. He is one of the great Dzogchen Lineage Masters for us.
This may come as sad news to some because it seems that he has left this world, but actually he is never separate from us. He always lives in the heart of our faith. According to Dzogchen Tantras, when a great enlightened teacher passes into parinirvana students have an extraordinary moment to receive blessings from this teacher by making supplications and offerings, as well as making profound personal commitments and aspirations. This is an especially powerful time to request teachings and blessings while praying that more emanations of this master manifest in this world to benefit all beings.
Therefore, I request all International Dzogchen Sanghas to gather their local communities together and do the following practices and ceremonies:
1. Offer Flowers, Lights, and Water: In front of a photo of H.H. Penor Rinpoche, offer beautiful flowers, luminous lights, and clear, clean water.
2. Offer Tsok Pujas (Feast Offerings): Specifically you can do the Rigdzin Dupa or Yumka Tsok, or simply recite the concise feast offering from The Buddha Path.
3. Recite Guru Padmasambhava Mantra: Recite the following mantra 100,000 times or as much as possible:
Om Ah Hung Badzra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung
4. Read and discuss H.H. Penor Rinpoche’s amazing Life Story.
5. Request teachings and blessings: Pray to H.H. Penor Rinpoche for your personal answers, blessings, and empowerment.
6. Make Profound and Sincere Commitments: Make a commitment to do positive things such as teach Dharma and practice, while committing not to do negative things. You can say, “Please Your Holiness Penor Rinpoche, bless me. For the true happiness of all beings, I hearby commit that I will do good things such as ...[your positive activities] and avoid doing bad things such as...[your negative activities]. Please holy enlightened master Penor Rinpoche, please bless me that I may accomplish my aspirations for the true happiness of all beings.”
Right after the parinirvana of great enlightened beings, whatever virtuous aspirations and commitments you make will swiftly be fulfilled.
7. Make Aspirations Pray:
“May I keep His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s advice and teachings in the depth of my heart.
May I sincerely follow the Dzogchen path of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.
May I fulfill the great aspirations of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.
May I faithfully recognize that Penor Rinpoche is always in my heart.”
By the power of Penor Rinpoche’s aspirations, may the Dzogchen Lineage increase and may the world have peace and happiness forever.
This message is from Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche’s longing faith and devotion.
Penor Rinpoche’s Biography and Other Links:
Biography: Here is a biography about Pema Norbu Rinpoche.
Gather friends and watch Movies and Videos about Penor Rinopoche: There are many videos available online that reveal his amazing activities. The Compassionate World is an hour-long documentary that wonderfully illustrates his amazing dharma activities.
It is found in full at: onlinedharmaclassics.org
There is also an official YouTube channel devoted to Penor Rinpoche:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Composed by Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche
Om soti, ngagla wangyur orgyen tendzin gyi
Jigdrel dorjei khamsu tenpa dang
Minub gyaltsen mishik dorje tar
Labchen dzetrin choktar gyegyur chig
Sovereign of speech upholding Uddiyana’s teachings
May your life be firm as vajra nature’s fearlessness,
Invincible like diamond, fly your never-waning banner,
Filling all directions with your vast activity.
Photo by Olav Nyhus
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Translation Conference 2009
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s Keynote Address:
“Translating the Words of the Buddhadharma for
Hearing, Contemplation and Meditation”
Monday, 16 March 2009, 09.00
Whenever people have asked me about the purpose of this conference, I’ve found myself saying something rather vague and evasive. I do understand that conferences are usually expected to follow a specific agenda; the problem is there’s so much we need to talk about, that I’ve found it extremely difficult to pinpoint where to start. At the same time, it’s precisely because there’s so much to talk about that this conference is being held.
One of the first Tibetan translation conferences ever, happened about twenty years ago as a result of the efforts of Dobum Rinpoche. More recently a very successful "Conference of Translators" hosted by Light of Berotsana, was held in Colorado, which included discussions about founding a translator’s guild, which I found extremely encouraging. I’d like to see many more of this kind of conference in the future.
For now, though, we need to set the agenda for this conference, and rather than limiting ourselves to examining and discussing all the short-term projects and issues we’re currently facing as individuals, I’d like us to take a much broader view. I’d like to suggest that, over the next few days, we start the process of mapping out exactly what needs to be done during our lifetimes and beyond, in order to ensure the preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist sacred texts. Basically, our agenda is to write the agenda for an ongoing translation conference; a conference that never closes because all the attendees continue to consult and work together in pursuit of a common goal.
For decades now, a few individual lamas and translators like yourselves, have been putting a great deal of effort into translating Tibetan Buddhist dharma texts into various languages. What’s more, you’ve been doing it in spite of the almost total lack of support translation work receives, and always under the pressure of needing to produce material quickly. Actually, it’s quite amazing what’s been achieved—and yet, you have almost always worked alone.
As we consider what will need to be done for the sake of the future of the Buddhadharma, I think it’ll become clear that we have to aim a little higher than merely translating the odd book here and there. In fact, I believe that the only way for us to achieve the enormous task we face, is by finding ways of working together—not only the translators, but also the sponsors, the teachers and, of course, the students, who are the real beneficiaries of your work. Over the years, such collaborations have been rare, and it’s an aspiration of mine that we’ll be working together far more closely in the future.
Of course, this tendency towards working alone may have something to do with the habits of Tibetan lamas. Generally speaking, working in a group isn’t common amongst Tibetans, and particularly amongst the lamas.
Why go through all the pain and agony of working with other people when you don’t have to? After all, two human beings trying to work together always slows a process down and is often frustrating. And for quite a number of projects, it simply isn’t necessary. So, as long as the tasks we undertake are small enough to be completed by just one person, or one school, or one particular lineage, being individualistic isn’t a problem.
Unfortunately, though, there are projects that, by their very nature—for example, their enormous size or complexity—simply cannot be achieved by individuals or even small groups of translators. And I believe that translating a large portion of the Buddhadharma—by which I mean all the texts that were brought from India to Tibet more than a millennium ago—from Tibetan into modern languages, is such a project.
Although I can see that there’s so much that needs to be discussed, I myself am not a translator. In fact, I’ve never even translated one page of text, let alone an entire book! Yet, for some peculiar reason, I find myself associated with this Translation Conference—mostly, I think, owing to the involvement of Khyentse Foundation. And I imagine that this situation is a little worrying for some of you real translators, since enthusiastic amateurs tend to be rather naïve about the art of translation. Most naïve of all, of course, are the Tibetan lamas, like myself.
So, out of this naïve and inexperienced head of mine, I have come up with some areas of discussion that I would like to propose for this conference.
• To identify the challenges faced by those translating Tibetan Buddhist texts into modern languages, for example how to train future generations of translators, and how to attract the very necessary attention of the Rinpoches;
• To examine the financial and infrastructural support available for translation work—or should I say the lack of it; and also
• For all of us to be aware of where we are right now in this process of translating the Tibetan texts for the modern world, and to think about where we would like to be in 2109 which also involves heightening our awareness of just how urgent and precarious the situation has become.
When this conference was first announced, many people responded positively and were very encouraging. But, understandably, a few were apprehensive, wondering things like, “Is this another of those Tibetan conferences where everyone is expected to be polite and agree about everything?” or “Is this another of those pointless conferences where a bunch of hard-headed translators dig their heels in, and insist on doing things their way, regardless of what anyone else says?” Some translators have even declared, quite openly, that they, “Only work alone”, and simply, “Don’t believe in ‘conferences’.”
I’ve also heard that some mischievous people have been speculating that the purpose of this conference is to ensure the translation of the Kangyur, and nothing else; and that translations of texts that are needed more immediately, will be shelved completely. I would be surprised, though, if this rumour had really worried any of you. A thousand years ago the great Dharma Kings and Patrons had absolute, dictatorial power and great wealth, and were able to direct a scholar to drop everything and focus entirely on one project—like the translation of the Kangyur. But those days are long gone, and such a thing certainly couldn’t happen today—unfortunately.
Anyway, in spite of the many dilemmas translators face there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain: we must translate.
You’ll probably think I’m exaggerating, but I feel it’s entirely possible that the survival of Tibetan Buddhism could depend on its translation into other languages.
Personally, I find it hard to fathom the attitude of those Tibetan lamas who expect those who want to study and practice the Buddhadharma, first to perfect the Tibetan language. I can see that right now it’s important for some people learn Tibetan, but how necessary will it really be in a hundred years time? Fundamentally, the Buddhadharma and Tibetan culture are two different things, and just because someone is interested in Buddhadharma doesn’t mean that he or she aspires to be a Tibetologist.
Whenever Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche spoke of the gratitude Tibetans should feel for the great Dharma patron, King Trison Deutsen, he would say that, even if we Tibetans covered our entire world with solid gold and offered it to the King, it wouldn’t be enough to repay even a fraction of what we owe him for his extraordinary kindness—and he wasn’t referring to King Trison Deutsen’s social or political triumphs. It is believed that the project awarded the highest level of funding in King Trison Deutsen’s national budget was that of completing the task of translating the Word of the Buddha into Tibetan.
Enormous as the financial investment was, money was not the only price the Tibetans paid. Hundreds of the devoted students who attempted the journey to India to receive teachings and gather Buddhists texts, died from the terrible heat, strange food and virulent diseases they encountered on the Indian plains. Yet, in spite of the tremendous human sacrifice and unimaginable cost borne by the crown, this single undertaking may well be the one truly phenomenal Tibetan accomplishment.
One reason for prioritizing translation work is that we must, of course, continue to make available sacred Buddhist texts for the benefit of those non-Tibetans who wish to study and practice Buddhadharma. However, this is not the only reason for us to put all our energy into producing well-translated texts.
The Buddhist heritage and culture that permeated Tibetan life for more than a thousand years, has all but disappeared in India, its country of origin. Basically, the great Lotsawas who translated the Buddhist texts into Tibetan—where Buddhism continued to flourish for a millennium—effectively rescued the Buddhadharma from premature extinction. As a result, today, what had been virtually lost in India can now be found in Tibet—and what’s more is becoming available again in India.
As inauspicious as it may sound, when we look at the current situation of Tibet, and the waning enthusiasm amongst Tibetans themselves for their own language and culture, it’s clear that the same kind of virtual obliteration of Buddhist culture could quite easily happen again.
And I believe that, by translating the Tibetan Buddhist texts into modern languages, you may well be saving a vast swathe of Buddhist civilization and culture from global annihilation. The 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.
In addition, as many of you know, those in the Tibetan community still able to speak and understand classical Tibetan are extremely rare. At the rate at which the language is disappearing, 50 years from now there will be almost no Tibetans who can read the words from texts such as the Kangyur and Tengyur and understand their meaning. And very soon it will be too late to do anything about it.
So, for all these reasons, when I learned that Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche aspires to translate the Kangyur into English, I felt tremendously encouraged.
Translating the Kangyur is, of course, a massive and extremely daunting task, and while it’s not the sole purpose of this conference, neither is it a project we can afford to ignore.
As very few Tibetans read or study the Kangyur these days, there are those who wonder if it’s really worth the effort—especially taking into consideration the enormous amount of resources such a translation project would involve. Amongst Tibetans, as you know, the Kangyur is widely used as a merit-making object: monasteries will certainly buy a copy, but will then simply shelve it. If offerings are made the text will be read out loud, but little effort will be invested in understanding the meaning of each word.
While paying homage to the Word of the Buddha is a powerfully meritorious spiritual act, the Tibetan habit of using the Kangyur solely for this purpose is neither to be admired nor emulated: in fact, it’s a big mistake. I’ve noticed that Chinese, Thai and Burmese Buddhists still read the Sutras and contemplate them; the Tibetans rarely do. My concern is that if we decide not to translate these texts, this Tibetan mistake will be both reinforced and perpetuated.
Every religion has an original holy book—for Christians it’s the Bible, and for Moslems it’s the Koran. For Buddhists, our root holy books are the Sutras and they 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.
As Buddhadharma is taught more widely in the modern world, where attention to detail and authenticity are so valued, people are going to want to know what Buddha, himself, actually said. 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—it’s happening in all religions, and sadly, Buddhism is no exception. When problems created by such interpretations arise in the future, our beacon of truth can only be the Words of the Buddha.
If you were to ask someone naïve, like myself, what I think should be translated? If I were given the chance to set our priorities, what would be the top of my list? Without doubt I would have to say that the teachings of the Buddha—the Sutras—should take precedence over the Shastras. Then, as the Shastras written by Indian authors are more authoritative and carry more weight, I would say that they should be translated before those of the Tibetan authors.
The Tibetans have developed the habit of preserving and propagating the work of Tibetan lamas, and seem to have forgotten about the Sutras and Shastras. Painful as it is for me to admit, Tibetans often promote the teachings of their own teachers far more than those of the Buddha—and I have no trouble understanding why Tibetan Buddhism is sometimes described as “Lamaism”. Today, as a result, our vision is quite narrow, and instead of dedicating our limited resources to translating the Words of the Buddha, we pour it into translating the teachings of individual lineage gurus, biographies, their long-life prayers, and prayers for the propagation of the teachings of individual schools.
These are just some of my reasons for believing that translating the Kangyur and Tengyur are projects that, at the very least, we must address and plan for right now. The way I see it, this immense translation effort can only be accomplished if we all join forces. Basically, we have to work together. And, more than anything else, we need to establish an ongoing dialogue and spirit of cooperation and mutual support amongst translators and all those implicated in the art of translation, and start planning for the future—what I’ve already described as an ‘on-going conference’. We need to decide where we want this process to be in 10 years, 25 years, 50 years and 100 years.
If just one person were to try, rather stubbornly, to shift a huge boulder on their own, all that would be achieved is a terrible drain on his energy and time—and most likely the boulder wouldn’t move an inch. The cooperative effort of a dozen people, though, could move the boulder quite easily. By working together as a group to move our own huge and immovable boulder, I believe that, at the very least, we’d be able to work out how to be more efficient, and how to use our resources more wisely.
While we are constantly aware of the urgency of the situation, I should add that we would be deceiving ourselves if we imagined that this generation of translators will see the completion of this project. In Tibet, it took seven generations of Tibetan Kings to accomplish the translation of the texts we have today; and some believe that there are still sutras and shastras that have yet to be translated into Tibetan.
What we must do, however, is lay the foundations, by devising a practical and far-sighted plan to ensure that, eventually, everything that should be translated, will be—and we have to do it now.
The challenge of translating volumes of Tibetan texts the size of mountains is only one aspect of the enormous task we’re faced with; there are others equally daunting that we need to start thinking about. For example, revising and updating existing translations into current, everyday language. It’s an unnerving prospect, I know, but the sacred texts must always be available in a form the present generation can understand.
And there are other issues like, who does the best job, the scholar-translator or the practitioner-translator?
When we encounter the more inscrutable passages from the Buddha’s teachings, it is usually to the interpretations of the great practitioners that we turn. If a practitioner-translator is our ideal because he or she has greater emotional authority than a scholar-translator, we should also remember that many of these great practitioners aren’t particularly well-versed in Buddhist philosophy. They even take pride in their lack of worldly knowledge, for example in their literary skills, telling us that they’re glad they didn’t waste their time studying ‘all that intellectual stuff’! And worse still, it is well-known in Tibet that often not only the practitioners, but even the scholars—the Geshes and Khenpos—didn’t know how to write their own names, let alone a whole sentence. So, imagining we can rely on the linguistic expertise of these great beings, may be a little over-optimistic.
We also have the problem of dealing with the excruciating modern phenomenon of ‘political correctness’. Can we really translate arhat as the ‘destroyer of enemies’? Can this literal translation really help students understand its true meaning? Especially these days, when such a phrase could so easily be confused with the language of religious fanaticism. Consequently, not only do scholars play a vital role in the process of translation, but so do the arbiters of social sensitivities; and their roles are at least equally important to that of the practitioner, and definitely not less.
We also need the help and advice of good editors and writers, so that we can ensure the language the text is being translated into is well written. Just because someone can understand Tibetan, doesn’t mean that they can write well in their own language. Take English, for example. As we all know, the way Tibetan is written is very different from English, but I wonder, is using a kind of pidgin-English to reflect the Tibetan style a good solution? Wouldn’t it be better for the native English translators to pay more attention to perfecting their written English style, so that they can represent Tibetan ideas in a way that their readers can understand?
Insignificant as it may sound when compared with what we have yet to achieve, I’ve noticed that few translators have been able to render many prayers and practices from Tibetan into other languages and retain the metre necessary to be able to chant them easily. And so, practitioners inspired by traditional forms of chanting, usually do so in Tibetan. I think we should starting thinking about how we can produce prayers in other languages—particularly those usually practiced in groups—that are written in metre so that students can chant in their own languages.
Although it’s true that we have not been blessed with great Dharma patrons like King Trison Deutsen, all is not lost because modern technology is on our side. The great translator Vairochana, when he needed to find a specific manuscript, had to walk from Tibet to India, and it took him several months. Today, thanks both to modern technology and projects like Gene Smith’s TBRC, it’s possible to download Tibetan texts to your computer, even from somewhere as remote as Bir—if the internet is working, of course.
I believe the process we begin here could now continue online quite easily in an ongoing conference of ideas and mutual support. And we shouldn’t limit who we bring into our conversations. Not only should we be talking to other translators, but also to all those who support the translation process, the teachers, the linguists, the writers, and, of course, the students.
By opening up the lines of communications between ourselves, we could start working out how we can help each other more efficiently.
You know, every time I visit Manhattan Island, I am amazed by the foresight of those Americans who created that part of New York City. They had such vision! The way they planned the layout of the streets and avenues, Central Park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s as if they knew what would be needed in the 20th century, and beyond. This kind of visionary planning is absolutely necessary in order to achieve our goal.
Therefore, I would like to call on all of you here today—the translators, the Rinpoches and the sponsors—to aspire to be as visionary as those great New York City planners. After all, what we are going to do will have a far greater impact on the world than the laying out of a city ever could. We will be making available to people of all nationalities, everything they need to follow the Buddha’s infinite path to liberation, which is the only source of true happiness and enlightenment.
And so I entreat you, please, we must learn to work together. The stakes are high, and, practically speaking, it’s our generation who will shoulder the responsibility for ensuring that the Buddhadharma continues to flourish in this world. We need to make a thorough and effective plan for the future, and we must put it into action.
As a Tibetan, I am amazed when I read texts by the great Lotsawas, like Vairochana and Chogroluyi Gyaltsen, and remember just how much I, personally, owe them. They endured unimaginable hardships to bring the Buddhadharma from India to Tibet. Without their compassionate determination, their devotion and sheer hard work, I would never have been able truly to appreciate the words of the Buddha in my own language.
We are being given the opportunity to emulate those great beings—the translators, scholars, panditas and saints of the past—by taking on the task of translating and making available the Words of the Buddha to as many people in this world as possible, in their own languages, now and for centuries to come.
Monday, March 16, 2009
We just received news about Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche aspiration for constructing a temple in the shape of Padmasambhava's mansion - the Palace of Lotus Light. Rinpoche is planned to "break ground for the foundation and begin construction of a Zangdok Palri temple at Chapagaon during the second Tibetan month.
More information on http://cglf.org/zangdokpalri.htm
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
And there is also a very good slideshow of the past 50 years of protests in Tibet.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Download (PDF 3.1 Mb)
More information at the official website of Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
[NYTimes] AS dusk rolls in from the distant Himalayas, I nervously dart into the chaos of vehicles roaring up and down Boudha Tusal, my eyes fixed on the ornately carved stone gateway across the boulevard.
Dodging a swarm of buzzing mopeds, I duck past a taxi blasting subcontinental pop music and scoot across the path of a truck whose cab is painted with images of the long-haired Shiva and the elephant-headed Ganesh, Nepal’s ubiquitous Hindu gods. The haze of exhaust fumes rivals any Scottish mist. Traffic cops shout in Nepali as I jump onto the curb and speed between the two stone snow lions guarding the tall arch.
Suddenly, as if I have entered another world, the toxic fog dissipates and gives way to the sweet odor of burning juniper incense. Vanished, too, are Shiva, Ganesh and their Hindu brethren. Instead, the enormous disembodied eyes of the avatar of a different faith — Shakyamuni, better known as the Buddha, peer down from a soaring multitiered stupa, or temple. The Nepali pop songs fade, replaced by chanting .“Om mani padme hum,” comes the ancient six-syllable refrain, repeated by groups of Tibetan monks in oxblood robes. “Hail to the jewel in the lotus.” (read full article)
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
AVOCATE ZEBRABIU GEORGE
01 BP 441, Cotonou,
Republique du Benin
Telephone: 00229 97751615
I am Barrister ZEBRABIU GEORGE, the attorney to Late Peter Rinpoche , a national of your country, who used to work as the Director of Produits pétroliers Sonacop in Benin Republic West Africa Here in after shall be Referred to as my client. On the 27th of May 2007, my client, His wife and their three Children were involved in a car accident Along Sagbama express-road. All occupants of the vehicle Unfortunately lost their lives.Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives this has also proved Unsuccessful.
After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track His last name over the Internet, to locate any member of his Family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in Repatriating the money and property left behind by my client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank here. These huge deposits were lodged particularly, with the "Continental Trust Bank"An affiliate of Commercial Bank of Africa where the Deceased had an account valued at about $40.5 million dollars.
The Bank has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated. Since I have been unsuccessful in Locating the relatives for over 4 years now I seek your consent To present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you have The same last name so that the proceeds of this account valued at $40.5million dollars can be paid to you and then you and me can Share the money.60% to me and 40% to you I will procure all Necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make.All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us seeing this Deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.
For privacy reply to my private Email: email@example.com
I await your reply ASAP.
Barrister ZEBRABIU GEORGE