Respected and cherished scholar of Buddhist Studies, Indology, and Philology and creator of the Buddhist Studies program at University of Michigan passed away on September 3, 2017.

In June 2017, knowing that he had just a few months to live, he decided to give his final lecture at the Translation & Transmission Conference. The lecture was delivered in the plenary session, Approaches to Translation and Transmission, which also included the esteemed scholars Susan Bassnett, David Bellos, and Jonathan Gold. Professor Gómez pondered translation as a multi-layered social communication act which considers philological analysis, the significance of meaning, and the needs of both audience and publishers. He reminded us that “Words seldom mean one thing–they are naturally elastic,” and the beauty and practicality of translation rely on the plasticity of meaning and interpretation. Watch Professor Gómez’s final lecture here.

Read the obituary composed by Donald Lopez, Jr. on the Translation & Transmission Conference website.

To honor his memory, the University of Michigan is seeking to raise an endowment to establish the Luis Gómez Memorial Lecture Fund, which would support an annual lecture in Luis’s honor, bringing a major scholar of Buddhism to campus. Generous donations from students of Luis and from Buddhist organizations from around the world have helped raise more than half of the fundraising goal. To help reach the goal, please consider making a donation here.

Publications and Contributions of Note

Today, Tsadra Foundation launched a new platform to serve as a multimedia resource for the Translation & Transmission conference events. The new virtual space will host a variety of content from the 2014 and 2017 conferences, upcoming workshops, and meetings related to the Translation & Transmission Conference series. For example, you can learn more about the upcoming Lotsawa Translation Workshop at CU Boulder this fall. Envisioned as a hub for conference-related events and resources, the site will grow as these events are designed and hosted in the coming years.

The event library offers access to all talks from previous conferences. The sessions can be filtered by event, session type, speaker, and topic. You can now immerse yourself in the conference experience and reconnect with the topics and themes discussed at the 2017 and 2014 conferences. You can also explore images, related articles, learn about upcoming events, and sign up for the conference newsletter on the site. 

Many thanks to the volunteers who filmed the conference sessions in 2017 and Tsadra’s Digital Publications department for editing the videos and creating this new website.

Revisit the 2017 conference now!

The Complete Rinchen Terdzö
Published by Shechen Monastery!

Thanks to the hard work of many people over the course of many years (and perhaps lifetimes), the most complete edition of the Rinchen Terdzö Chenmo (རིན་ཆེན་གཏེར་མཛོད་ཆེན་མོ་) in seventy-one volumes is finished and printed.

Shechen Monastery held a celebration on March 29, 2018, to commemorate the conclusion of this important project. Kyabje Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche and Shechen Monastery honored Dakpo Tulku Rinpoche and his team–Matthieu Ricard, along with Sean Price and Eric Colombel of Tsadra Foundation–who all put concerted effort into the project’s completion which was more than thirteen years in the making.

The Rinchen Terdzo text collection at Shechen Monastery.

Shechen Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal, March 29, 2018.

Matthieu Ricard, Dakpo Tulku, and Eric Colombel of Tsadra Foundation.

Limited printed copies of the collection are available from Shechen Monastery. To access the entirety of the texts digitally, search through the collection, or learn more about it, see the online catalog here: Rinchen Terdzö Chenmo: The Great Treasury of Rediscovered Teachings.

The Rinchen Terdzö website presents a searchable catalog of all texts in the Rinchen Terdzö Chenmo and includes full unicode Tibetan texts with metadata. Currently, (2018) volumes 1-64 and 68 have been updated and we will finish work on the final volumes of the Shechen edition this year.

The Rinchen Terdzö Chenmo is the largest of the Five Treasuries that Jamgon Kongtrul the Great (‘jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas, 1813-1899) compiled throughout his life. This extraordinary collection is comprised of the main Rediscovered Treasures (gter ma) of Tibetan Buddhism and the texts necessary to bestow the related empowerments and explanations to practice them.

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo traveled for thirteen years throughout Central and Eastern Tibet in order to collect the texts and receive the transmissions for the many lineages that had become almost extinct and held by only a few people. The actual redaction and editing of the Rinchen Terdzö was accomplished by Jamgön Kongtrul at the monastery-hermitage of Dzongsho Deshek Dupa, a secluded mountain retreat located between Dzongsar and Kathok, where Khyentse Wangpo had revealed a set of termas related to the Eight Herukas (grub pa bka’ brgyad).

Wooden-blocks were then carved at Palpung Monastery creating a sixty-volume edition. From this edition, another set of wooden-blocks was carved at Tsurphu Monastery with three additional volumes. These three included the ‘dod ‘jo’i bum bzang, which was compiled by Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje (1646-1714) and is considered to be the “seed” of the Rinchen Terdzö, the autobiography of Jamgön Kongtrul, and the root text of Chogyur Lingpa’s Lamrim Yeshey Nyingpo with a detailed commentary by Jamgön Kongtrul. (Read more of the introduction by Matthieu Ricard.)

Visit the Rinchen Terdzö Chenmo: The Great Treasury of Rediscovered Teachings online to learn more about it!

Summer Intensive Tibetan Courses

Are you looking to develop your Tibetan language skills? Opportunities abound for language study this summer in the United States and South Asia. Most programs offer either classical or colloquial courses, and many are offered for credit through affiliated universities. Online courses are also available in self-study and interactive formats and are a great way to get started right away.

 

Tsadra Foundation’s Research Center will offer for the first time a short intensive program this summer during the last two weeks of August (13 – 25). The courses, offered for three levels of students–beginning, intermediate, and advanced–will combine the study of spoken and written Tibetan with opportunities to develop skills in translation and oral interpretation for advanced students. Lama Sarah Harding will teach the advanced reading class and Doctor Jules Levinson will facilitate oral interpretation practice from Tibetan to English. Visit the website for more information.

Colloquial Tibetan Studies

University of Virginia’s Summer Language Institute offers an intensive course in colloquial Tibetan which runs for eight weeks (June 17 – August 10) and is hosted on campus at UVa in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. Franziska Oertle, who has taught Tibetan at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal and the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics near Dharamsala, India, will be teaching alongside her colleague Gen Phuntsok Dorje this summer. The course is offered for the equivalent of twelve academic credits, but also for non-credit-earning study. More information can be found here. 

University of Wisconsin’s South Asia Summer Language Institute will also offer summer intensive courses in modern South Asian languages, including colloquial Tibetan and Sanskrit, from June 18 through August 10 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Apply for this program here. 

For those interested in travel to South Asia, two notable programs for colloquial Tibetan language study are Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies (RYI) and Esukhia. RYI also offers classical Tibetan courses on campus in Kathmandu.

RYI’s summer intensive programs offer three levels–beginner, intermediate, and advanced–of colloquial and classical Tibetan, and two levels–beginner and intermediate–of Sanskrit. These programs run from June 13 through August 10. Students have the option to live with Tibetan host families, experience the bustling city of Kathmandu, and explore sacred sites in the surrounding valleys. Read more information about these courses and apply for them here. 

Esukhia, based in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India, runs a summer intensive program in Ladakh for either one or two months of study starting July 2 and running through August 25. This program features homestay experiences with Tibetan families living in the small town of Choglamsar just outside of Leh. Visit Esukhia’s website here. 

Classical Tibetan Studies

Studying classical Tibetan is also a possibility in an intensive format this summer, both for-credit and not-for-credit. Maitripa College, in Portland, Oregon, offers intensive classical Tibetan language study which introduces students to vocabulary and grammatical structures and guides them through translating portions of texts by the end of the eight weeks. Read more about Maitripa’s program here. 

Rangjung Yeshe Gomde California offers an intermediate-level classical Tibetan course through the Dharmachakra School of Translation which is accredited by Kathmandu University. The course is based on Rangjung Yeshe Institute’s summer intensive courses, but available with the backdrop of the Eel River in the coastal range of Northern California. Find more information about this program here. 

Another program in California, USA, The Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, will offer second-year classical Tibetan and Sanskrit this summer. The program is best suited for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Read more about this course here. 

Online Study

If you are unable to travel this summer, not to worry! Possibilities for online study are plentiful.

The University of Toronto offers two levels of classical Tibetan study based on Joe Wilson’s Translating Buddhism from Tibetan entirely online. The introductory course is twelve weeks long and will introduce you to the needed grammatical structures to learn to translate from Tibetan to English. Students can work with a moderator and study for credit through the University of Toronto. If you are not seeking credit, the entire course is freely available for self-study. You can begin studying at any time by visiting this website.

Esukhia offers one-on-one colloquial Tibetan classes online over Skype using a curriculum they developed based on vigorous research into language learning pedagogy. Sign up and start studying immediately.

Rangjung Yeshe Institute also offers two semesters of classical Tibetan courses online and a self-study Tibetan alphabet course. Completing the two semester-length online courses will prepare you to attend most intermediate-level classical Tibetan courses. Both semesters can be taken for academic credit and feature a course moderator in addition to the online course materials. The courses can also be taken on a self-study basis. Read about the courses and apply for them here. 

David Curtis offers courses in classical Tibetan via teleconference through the Tibetan Language Institute. A new round of David’s courses begins in April. Sign up here. 

Neljorma Tendron teaches four levels of online classes which are focused on comprehension of dharma terminology with the aim of reading and understanding one’s liturgical practice texts. Visit her website here for more information. 

Sonam Chusang, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, hosts beginning classes in the Tibetan alphabet, pronunciation, and spelling, and a beginning level of both colloquial and classical Tibetan. You can read more about these classes here.

Naropa Students Enjoy Lunch with Master Translators

Master translators Wulstan Fletcher and Elizabeth Callahan visited Naropa University to speak with students about the process of translation from Tibetan to English, and the motivations that led them to pursue such work.

The conversation occurred as part of Naropa University’s Indo-Tibetan Lunch Seminar Series, organized and hosted by Dr. Amelia Hall, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, which fosters discussion among students across disciplines—art, Indo-Tibetan studies with Tibetan and/or Sanskrit language—and encourages them to explore different ways to study language in general, and Tibetan and Sanskrit in particular.

Elizabeth began by describing her motivation to learn Tibetan: she was interested in practicing Tibetan Buddhism and understanding what she was practicing. Over the course of her six years of retreat, she gradually learned to serve as an interpreter for Tibetan teachers and became a translator of practice texts. After completing retreat, she fell into being a translator because she wanted to develop a better understanding of emptiness, the rituals associated with Buddhist practice, and the “point” of meditation and saw a way to do that through the practice of translation.

“Translation can be a skillful way to approach in-depth study.”
-Elizabeth Callahan

 

Following Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche’s encouragement to understand the text from the practitioner’s perspective, Elizabeth took translation as the path early on. She explained the importance of working closely with masters of the lineage and students of the same teacher to produce translations. She described a model to approach the translation of Tibetan materials to English to benefit oneself and others equally: absorb yourself in the text–practice, study, and research, then the product of the translation contributes to others being able to practice.

Elizabeth closed her comments with an encouragement to students to, “Bring <your knowledge of Tibetan> to a point where it is useful for you if you are interested to practice. Train until, when you pick up a text, you have 90% comprehension, and that you’re fluent enough in colloquial Tibetan that you can ask questions to get to 100%.”  

Wulstan began by introducing himself to the group as “The Reluctant Translator”. Completely self-taught, Wulstan completed three-year retreat and worked on technical translations until Tsadra offered support for him to work full time. From his perspective, translation is part of one’s bodhisattva commitment to help people who will never be in a position to learn the language, giving them access to a wonderful tradition that is still alive. “Translation is breaking the shell so people can eat the kernel, or taking the stone off the well so people can get to the water.”

Wulstan then shifted to sharing his love of language. He explained that the classical Tibetan of the texts, which is quite different from the modern spoken language, is a learned language, like Latin was in the middle ages. It has remained fairly stable and unchanged over the centuries. The written Tibetan of a modern author like Dudjom Rinpoche is in many respects the same as that of Longchenpa, who lived in the fourteenth century. As writers, they are virtual contemporaries even though they are separated by six centuries. This means that, once you have learned to read Tibetan, you have access to vast literature spanning over a thousand years.

“If you think Buddhadharma is valuable, translate. You can’t know what the benefit will be—maybe you’re giving a tool to someone who can use it much better than you could!”
-Wulstan Fletcher

 

Exploring the Craft of Translation

Elizabeth and Wulstan answered thoughtful questions from the students about what to do when experiencing a block or facing something you don’t understand. Wulstan urged students to read slowly and not to lose heart. He explained that while Tibetan grammar is not complicated, its syntax is strange and confusing to speakers of an Indo-European language like our own. Tibetan is not written in sentences in the way that English is—centerd on a main verb with principal and relative clauses all clearly connected. Thanks to its use of particles and its unrestricted capacity for subordination, Tibetan is often written in extended, river-like periods which can be very long indeed—alarmingly so for the beginner. Nevertheless, it is important to get used to the way Tibetan writers arrange their ideas and to read their sentences in the way Tibetans do rather than jumping around trying to piece together bits of sense, more or less guessing how they should be put together. It’s only when you have grasped the meaning of the Tibetan that you can then put it into English, dividing up the Tibetan into shorter manageable statements. This isn’t easy and takes a lot of practice, so it’s important to be patient and not get discouraged. Then, because the syntactical structure of the two languages is so different, it is important to “step away” from the original Tibetan and recast the meaning into a natural English form. When the translation process is complete, the text should read as clearly and easily as a text composed in English. This is part of being kind to the reader which, above all, Elizabeth and Wulstan reminded the students to do by thinking of their audience when translating. 

Both translators spoke of the importance of mastering of one’s own language—cultivating a knowledge of English literature to know stylistically what is good. They encouraged the students to read literature, to love English, to read the poets, and cherish the language. By translating, one is contributing to the corpus of literature in our own language.

They offered a step-by-step approach to working with a translation:

  1. Use dictionaries and online resources like Columbia University’s Buddhist Canon Research Database with searchable unicode text, the BDRC database, and the Tibetan Himalayan Translation Tool online;
  2. Work with context and play with how to say things in different ways;
  3. Continue the research process: “Read around” the text by engaging with relevant texts and scholarly materials to help build context; and
  4. Ask questions: understanding the author’s life could inform your translation.

The conversation ended with an encouraging comment from Elizabeth to the young translators: “If you feel drawn to learn Tibetan and become a translator, do it. You’ll find a way.”

~ Shambhala Publications Book Launch ~

The Just King

The Tibetan Buddhist Classic on Leading an Ethical Life

By Jamgön Mipham, Translated by José Ignacio Cabezón

The Buddhist luminary Jamgön Mipham wrote a letter on leadership to the king of Dergé, whose small kingdom straddled China and Tibet during a particularly turbulent period. This work stresses compassion, impartiality, self-control, and virtue as essential for long-lasting success—whether as a leader or an individual trying to live a meaningful life. Both present-day leaders and those they lead will find this classic work, finally available in English, profoundly illuminating on political, societal, and personal levels.

Join us for some refreshments, snacks, and a discussion with Professor José Cabezón on ethical leadership according to the great Tibetan master Mipham.

When: June 4, 6pm

Where: Shambhala Publications event space and book store, 4720 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80301

Two sessions at the upcoming Translation & Transmission Conference will be open to the public. Seating is limited. Please register by following the links at the bottom of the sessions you’re interested in attending.

1 ~ Approaches to Transmission in the West: A Discussion with Contemporary Shedra Students

with Robert Miller, Katrin Querl, Simon Houlton, Matt Weiss & Gerd Klintschar

Public Session 1 • Room 204, 2nd Floor • 2:30 PM, June 2, 2017

For westerners looking to study at the highest level in the Tibetan Buddhist World, there are significant barriers. Would you enroll in a Tibetan monastic college in India or Nepal? Meet four westerners who did just that, several of whom still continue their rigorous decade of study today. This session will be a public discussion with Robert Miller, who was director of education at a monastery in India, and four western students from Tibetan monastic colleges: Katrin Querl (Drikung Kagyu College, Dehra Dun), Simon Houlton (Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala), Matt Weiss (Sera Je Monastic University, Bylakuppe), and Gerd Klintschar (Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu).

Register for Public Session #1 here!

 


2 ~ Approaches to Transmission in the West: New Voices & Old Traditions

with Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, Ari Goldfield, Sarah Plazas & Gyurme Avertin

Public Session 2 • Wittemeyer Hall • 4:45 PM, June 2, 2017

What does genuine transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the west look like? How can we be active participants in this process? What role do translators and western teachers have in this globalized process? What is transmission, really? Two western teachers and two translators will discuss all these issues and more in this wonderful meeting of minds.

Register for Public Session #2 here!

 


 

The Ketaka Jewel with Khenpo Gawang

THREE TALKS ON MAY 26, 27, 28

Khenpo Gawang will be giving 3 talks on the Ketaka Jewel by Ju Mipham Rinpoche. The Ketaka Jewel is Ju Mipham’s commentary on the Prajna Chapter of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara. The Bodhisattvacharyavatara is Shantideva’s classic guide to the Mahayana path. It is one of the great texts from India that forms the core of the curriculum for Buddhist studies at the shedra. The Prajna Chapter of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara is wellnoted to be challenging for students. That being the case, Ju Mipham Rinpoche felt it important to compose a commentary making the words and meaning of the Prajna Chapter easy to understand. As a result, he named his commentary, The Ketaka Jewel after the mythical jewel that has the capability to clarify water.

From the Prajna Chapter of the Bodhisattvacharyavatara:

All these branches
Were taught by the Sage for the sake of the paramita of prajna.
Therefore, those who suffer and desire peace,
Should give rise to prajna.

Khenpo Gawang will be discussing how prajna relates to the two truths. On Friday night, he will be signing copies of The Ketaka Jewel translation, which will be made available for purchase.

Dates and Times: Friday Evening, May 26 from 7:00 to 8:30, Saturday, 10:00 to 12:00, and Sunday 2:00 to 3:30

Location: Nalandabodhi, 100 Arapahoe Ave, Suite 6, Boulder CO 80302

Cost: $20 Friday night, $60 for the weekend, $50 for Nalandabodhi Members

Contact: David Makowski at djmakowski99@yahoo.com

More Info: http://boulder.nalandabodhi.org

Bio:  is the founder and spiritual director of Pema Karpo Meditation Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Having completed thirty years as a monk, fourteen years of teaching experience, and nine years of study at the Buddhist University of Namdroling Monastery in South India, he holds a Khenpo degree, the Buddhist equivalent of a PhD. Gawang Rinpoche came to the United States in 2004 at the invitation of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Shambhala International. He proudly became an American citizen in 2012. Rinpoche is the author of Your Mind Is Your Teacher (Shambhala Publications) and The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha (Jeweled Lotus Publications). He co-translated with Gerry Wiener the text, The Excellent Path to to Enlightenment by Longchenpa which is available through Amazon.

Early-bird pricing for the Historic First International Chöd Conference ends midnight this Friday (March 31st).

This conference is a gathering in one place of lamas, teachers and advanced practitioners that has never before taken place. An intimate journey into a tradition of healing and transformation, and a celebration imbued with the beauty of Chöd practice, dance, and music. Reserve your place now:

 

In this short video, Lama Tsultrim Allione talks about why attending this conference is valuable, and how relevant this precious event is in the world today.

High-end Tent rentals are now available for the conference. Not only spacious and comfortable, they will provide an experience like that of the traditional “Chödpas” (Chöd practitioners) from Tibet and Mongolia, who travel and practice with their ritual items and a tent.

Camping/Commuting: $492
For full pricing options including cost of Hi-end Tents, please see our website.

Student rate: $342
(Click here for Student Registration)

Prices include full conference access, camping/commuting, and three meals per day, from dinner on 7/12/17 to lunch on 7/16/17.

*Early bird pricing ends March 31, 2017.

Sponsored by Shambhala Publications, Wisdom Publications, and Tsadra Foundation.

Shambhala Logo


Nikko Odiseos
at Shambhala Publications has shared some very interesting remarks about the state of Buddhist publishing. It is well worth the read on VajrayanaWorld.com

Here is a little excerpt and link to read more:

In 2016, Shambhala alone published 35 titles for Tibetan Buddhists (and a bunch more for Zen and Pali traditions), bringing us to 530 Tibetan Buddhist titles in print. While we have by far the largest list, the other Buddhist-centric publishers add a bit over two hundred more to the total. Some of the greatest works of the Indian and Tibetan traditions are coming out on an almost monthly basis.

The Ten Volume Treasury of Knowledge

The Ten Volume Treasury of Knowledge

There are many experienced translators who have good retreat experience and who work closely with lamas who have traversed the path. Vast, multi-volume works are available for many traditions, such as the ten-volume Treasury of Knowledge, the Complete Nyingma Tradition (eventually seven volumes and by far the largest work on a single tradition), the Treasury of Precious Instructions(eventually eighteen volumes) and the Library of Tibetan Classics series (Wisdom Publications). There are multiple translations and commentaries on the five Maitreya texts, the core of the Mahayana. There is the 84000 project (84000.com) committed to translating the entire Kangyur (the words of the Buddha) and Tengyur (the commentaries from India), even if few teachers teach those texts and few people read them.

Other publishers including WisdomRangjung YeshePadma PublishingKTDVajra Books, Dharma Publishing (despite nothing new in years), and a few others have very dedicated people producing some important books. Even some of the university presses (Oxford, Columbia, Chicago, SUNY, and Hawaii in particular) are making some great contributions beneficial—or at least of interest—to practitioners, not just academics. There are also some very important behind-the-scenes organizations that really enable a lot of the important works coming out to happen—the Tsadra Foundation, the Hershey Foundation, the Khyentse Foundation, the Ho Foundation, and more, as well some private donors supporting translators and publishing projects. Tibetan texts are also widely available to translators and readers thanks in particular to the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center online library.

Thanks to our many teachers, translators, scholars, and sponsors, we have so much Buddhist material at our fingertips. There is a lot to feel very hopeful and positive about, not just about the books, but about authentic Dharma being made available both inside and outside of Asia.

Yet, as I survey the landscape of Buddhism in the West through the lens of Buddhist publishing in English, at times I have a lot of trepidation—as a publisher and also as a Buddhist. We have a long way to go. My concerns focus on how we read, what we read, and who is reading—or not.

CONTINUE READING ON VajrayanaWorld.com

 

Archives