Archive for the ‘Tsadra Meetings’ Category

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You can now view videos of each plenary session, listen to audio from workshops, and enjoy pictures from throughout the 2014 Translation & Transmission Conference on the updated conference website:

http://translationandtransmission.org/conference-revisited.html

 

 

 

 

 

The Advanced Contemplative Scholarship program was launched in 2009 under the direction of Anthony Chapman and the first scholarships were awarded for retreat in 2010. Now in 2011 the second cohort of recipients are in retreat and we can provide some more information about this fascinating and successful scholarship program. The Tsadra Foundation’s Contemplative Program supports the practice of Tibetan Buddhism in the form of long-term retreat, primarily through three-year retreat programs for advanced practitioners. The scholarships discussed here are not for short dharma programs. Instead they are designed to target those people who show a long-term commitment to the development of Tibetan Buddhism in Western culture through the combined study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism, the hallmark of Tsadra Foundation’s activity.

Currently there are 39 people supported in long-term retreat through two programs: the Tsadra Foundation Contemplative Program and the Tsadra Foundation Advanced Contemplative Scholarship (TFACS) Program. The Contemplative Program is at the center of Tsadra Foundation’s mission and was initiated at the very beginning of the Foundation’s existence in the year 2000. The Contemplative Program was not open to unsolicited applications and has been only for the most advanced practitioners who have already completed at least one three-year retreat. The new TFACS program invites applications and is open to those intending to enter retreat in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Spain. One does not need to have completed a three-year retreat previously to apply. There continues to be a rigorous screening process involving assessment of both the individual applicant and the retreat program to which they are committing, but the application is open to those wishing to enter into three-year retreat for the first time in any Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Application information can be found online at www.tsadra.org.

The Tsadra Foundation Contemplative Program currently supports fourteen people in three-year retreat programs and one person in individual retreat. The  TFACS program supports seven people in three-year retreat programs continuing on with their 2010 scholarships and fifteen new people in three-year retreat centers with another two people in special individual retreats. In the first year, the TFACS program had fifteen applications and ten were accepted, eight women and two men from the United States and France. In the second year, 17 applicants were selected from 21 initial applications. This year, the six women and eleven men are from the United States (5), France (1), Spain (4), and the United Kingdom (7).

Tsadra Foundation Contemplative Program Statistics:

Year 11 (2011): 15 retreatants

TFACS: Tsadra Foundation Advanced Contemplative Scholarship Program

Year 2 (2011): 24 retreatants (7 continuing from last year with 17 new recipients)

Total people currently in retreat

2011: 39 retreatants

By Retreat Type

36 in Three-year retreat : 3 in Solitary retreat

By Gender

18 Women : 21 Men

By Region

18 US : 10 FR : 4 Spain : 7 U.K.

For more information please see the scholarship section at www.tsadra.org.

 

Tsadra Foundation’s Advanced Buddhist Studies Scholarship program was launched in 2009 under the direction of Tsadra Fellow Elizabeth Callahan and the first recipients began study at monastic colleges in India and Nepal in 2010.

Tsadra Foundation’s Advanced Studies Scholarships provide Western Buddhists with an opportunity for in-depth study of Buddhist philosophical literature in the Tibetan language. The foundation offers three-year scholarships to Westerners who wish to study at Tibetan Buddhist institutes in India and Nepal. Scholarships are not limited to specific institutes nor to any specific tradition. However, please note that these scholarships are not available for translator or interpreter training programs.

The Advanced Buddhist Studies Scholarship program accepted 11 students for 2010 and another seven for 2011. These scholarship recipients have committed to three years of intensive study at institutions in India and Nepal and regularly report to the director of the scholarship program about their studies and experiences. This scholarship program is designed for people who are ready to enter into a “shedra” program where classes are taught entirely in Tibetan. This means that applicants already have a good grasp of Tibetan language and Buddhist studies before applying and often have completed many years of study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

So far the current scholarship recipients attend six different institutions:

Institute

Group A 

(started in 2010)

Group B(started in 2011)
Institute of Buddhist Dialectics 1 2
Vajra Vidya Institute 5 1
Rangjung Yeshe MA+ 4 2
Rangjung Yeshe PhD 1
Sera Je 1
Shugseb Shedra 1

Current statistics for the scholarship recipients:

Country of Origin

Group A (started in 2010) Group B (started in 2011)
USA 4 3
Canada 1
Mexico 1
Argentina 1
UK 1 1
France 1
Austria 1 1
Greece 1
Switzerland 1
New Zealand 1

 

Primary Languages

Group A Group B
English 7 5
French 1 1
German 1 1
Spanish 1
Greek 1

Gender

Group A Group B
Women 5 3
Men 6 4

Self identified lineage associations:

Lineage

Group A Group B
Nyingma 1
Shangpa Kagyu 1
Karma Kagyu 7 2
Sakya 1
Geluk 1 2
Rime 1
Unknown 1 1

More information and applications can be found online at www.tsadra.org.

Dr. Art Engle gave a presentation on his work at the recent Tsadra Foundation Fellows and Grantees Conference entitled “Observations on Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi.” During his talk he discussed the translation of rigs pa as “application” instead of “reason” in the context of “The Four Applications” (Wyl: rigs pa bzhi; Tib: རིགས་པ་བཞི་ ; Skt: catasro yuktayaḥ). Here he provides us with his notes, translations, and the associated text citations:

 

The Four Applications

[Note: The following passage is an excerpt from Ārya Asaṅga’s The Listener’s Stage (S: Śrāvakabhūmiḥ, T: Nyan thos kyi sa). It forms part of a larger discussion on what are referred to as thirteen “requisites” (S: sambhāraḥ, T: tshogs) for attaining freedom from attachment. The two activities of listening to and reflecting upon the true Dharma taken together represent the tenth of these qualities. Asaṅga’s description of the four applications (S: catasro yuktayaḥ, T: rigs pa bzhi) appears in his explanation of the second of two methods for engaging in the practice of reflection. It is here that we find Asaṅga stating that the term yukti is synonymous with yoga (T: sbyor ba) and upāya (T: thabs), any of which could be rendered in this context as an “application,” a “means,” or an “expedient.” It is for this reason that I have translated the term as “application,” rather than the more commonly seen rendering “reason.” The Sanskrit of the text that appears below is not well edited and contains a number of corruptions; nevertheless, it is helpful in the effort of attempting to render an accurate English translation. Another important primary source for the four applications is a passage that appears in Chapter Ten of the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra.]

 

cintanā katamā | yathāpīhaikatyas tān eva yathā śrutān dharmān ekākī rahogataḥ | ṣaḍ acintyāni sthānāni tad yathā, (1) ātmacintāṁ, (2) sattvacintāṁ, (3) lokacintāṁ, (4) satvā(ttvā)nāṁ karmavipākacintāṁ, (5) dhyāyināṁ dhyāyiviṣayaṁ (6) buddhānāṁ buddhaviṣayaṁ varjayitvā (viśodhayitvā ?) svalakṣaṇataḥ | sāmānyalakṣaṇataś ca cintayati |

SEMS PA GANG ZHE NA, ‘DI LTAR ‘DI NA LA LA GCIG PU DBEN PAR SONG STE, BSAM GYIS MI KHYAB PA’I GNAS DRUG PO ‘DI LTA STE, BDAG LA SEMS PA DANG, SEMS CAN LA SEMS PA DANG, ‘JIG RTEN PA LA SEMS PA DANG, SEMS CAN RNAMS KYI LAS KYI RNAM PAR SMIN PA LA SEMS PA DANG, BSAM GTAN PA RNAMS KYI BSAM GTAN GYI YUL DANG, SANGS RGYAS RNAMS KYI SANGS RGYAS KYI YUL RNAM PAR SBYANGS NAS, JI LTAR THOS PA’I CHOS DE DAG NYID RANG GI MTSAN NYID DANG, SPYI’I MTSAN NYID KYI SGO NAS SEMS PAR BYED PA YIN NO, ,

What is reflection (S: cintanā, T: sems pa)?
It is [described] as follows: Here a person goes alone to a solitary place and, after having cultivated the six inconceivable topics—that is, reflection upon the self, reflection upon beings, reflection upon the world, reflection upon the ripening of beings’ deeds, the objects of meditation that pertain to those who practice meditation, and the objects of a Buddha that are possessed by Buddhas—he [or she] reflects upon the individual and general characteristics of those teachings [that have been heard] in the same manner that he [or she] heard them.

 

sā punaḥ cintā dvividhā gaṇanākārāsahagaṇanāyogena dharmeṇa | tulanākārama(rā), yuktyā guṇadoṣaparīkṣaṇākārā [ca][|] sa cet skandhapratisaṁyuktāṁ deśanāṁ cintayati | sa ced anyatamānyatamāṁ pūrvvaniviṣṭāṁ deśanāṁ cintayaty ābhyāṁ cintayati |

SEMS PA DE YANG RNAM PA GNYIS TE, BGRANG BA’I RNAM PAS CHOS RNAMS LA BGRANG BA’I TSUL GYIS SEMS PAR BYED PA DANG, GZHAL BA’I RNAM PAS RIG PAS YON TAN DANG SKYON NYE BAR BRTAG PA’I TSUL GYIS SEMS PAR BYED PA YIN NO, ,GAL TE PHUNG PO DANG LDAN PA BSTAN PA LA SEMS PAR BYED DAM, GAL TE DE LAS GZHAN PA SNGAR BSTAN PA GANG YANG RUNG BA BSTAN PA LA SEMS PAR BYED NA YANG RNAM PA DE GNYIS KYIS SEMS PAR BYED PA YIN TE,

Moreover, this reflection is of two types: (1) [reflection] upon teachings using a method that is a form of counting and (2) [reflection upon teaching] by means of a form of deliberation that consists of examining the good and bad qualities [of a particular topic]. If [someone] reflects upon a teaching that relates to the aggregates, or reflects upon any other teaching that was previously given, he [or she] reflects upon it using [either of] these two [methods].

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The Challenge of translation – Faithful yes, but not a slave

 

While no one disputes that a translation must be truthful, the definition of truthfulness and the ways in which translators have striven to achieve it have varied over the centuries. Word-for-word translation has given way to translation of meaning with the translated text reading as naturally in the TL as the original did in the SL. Reconciling truthfulness and beauty is one of the most important challenges faced by translators.

 

*****

 

Much has been said and written about the notion of faithfulness (or fidelity) in translation, even the sexist comment that a translation is like a woman : if is faithful it is not beautiful and if it is beautiful it is not faithful, as if being both faithful and beautiful were mutually exclusive

Obviously, like everything else, “faithfulness” depends on how you define it – a principle of loyalty or honesty or a matter of exactness and accuracy ; or  both ; or much more that that ) – and also it depends on what you relate it to – word or meaning ; the source language or the target language ; the source text or the target text ; the author or the reader.

Faithfulness will also depend on the different choices you make and the strategies you use in different translating situations (oral or written), with different texts (literary or technical ; philosophy, poetry, logics, etc…). And accordingly, it raises different types of difficulties. Usually technical translators are envious of literary translators because they do not have technical problems to solve, and literary translators are envious of technical translators because they only have technical questions to deal with. We Dharma translators, are not envious of anybody else, because we have both : the technical problems and all the rest…

Without getting into theoretical issues about linguistic theories in translation, I would like to relate this notion of faithfulness to my personal experience as a Dharma translator and  specially to one model of translation strategy developed by Lederer (2001) at the ESIT school of translators in Paris that I find interesting and useful.  So, as this exploration of the extent of faithfulness,  has mainly given me the opportunity to reconsider my ideas about translation and my involvement in translating Dharma I am afraid that apart from being a very self-centered talk, the rest might be very familiar to you and overrun.

 

*****

 

 

In the early eighties, when the director of a FPMT center in France asked me to translate orally, from English to French, the teachings of the resident gueshé on Shiné and Lhaktong, I thought he was pulling my leg. First, I did not know who Shiné and Lhaktong were and did not think that just knowing a foreign language suddenly qualified someone to be a translator or worse an interpreter. On top of that How can you translate something you do not understand ? The reason that apparently made me a translator was that I understood English and had a degree in linguistics from a Canadian university. But speaking a language and translating a Buddhist senior monk talk about meditation and philosophy are for me two different things : in one case, you think you know what you are talking about, while in the other you know you don’t.

But curiosity and temptation were stronger than I thought, so I finally went up to meet Gueshé la in his room and find out more about the subject.

After hearing all my excuses about my incompetence, Gueshé La just smiled at me and said : ” Oh don’t be so shy just say the same thing in your own language ! ”

Saying the same thing in my own language ! That was exactly what I thought I could not do, as my knowledge of the thing itself was rather a non-thing and definitely not functional.

 

But as you cannot resist a wise and compassionate person, a few days later, after some more encouragement by Gueshé la, convincing me that there was not any body else around who could do it, I was sitting on the hot cushion, scared as a newborn lamb, trying to convey as faithfully as I could, that is almost word by word, whatever Gueshé la was saying. Sorry, whatever the English translator was saying, as I did not know Tibetan then. This was my first experience of translating Dharma : translating a Tibetan translator translating the words of a Tibetan scholar speaking about a subject I knew nothing about. This is how Dharma teachings were introduced in France when at this time when there were no direct Tibetan-French translators available. Taking any one who came close to accomplishing the function of a merely labeled translator. In that case ME.

Everybody knows the famous expression (traduttore, traditore) : that interpreters are traitors.  And in that case we were two traitors. Although some might argue that two traitors are probably better than just one, as betraying the traitor could be one step closer to truth !?! Anyway, we both joined our efforts as best we could, trying to translate every word like a dictionary would. Isn’t a dictionary the best tool for translating ? This is when I proudly started to consider myself as being just a tool at the service of Dharma and others. A Dharma translating machine so to speak.
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“As for the Blessing of Vajravārāhī, Marpa Lhodrakpa does not have it.” WTF?

by Sarah Harding

In the beginning, my work translating the Pakmo Namshe[1] by the 2nd Pawo Rinpoche Tsuklak Trengwa (dPa’ bo gtsug lag Phreng ba, 1504-1566) presented several surprises. I had always believed that this was a commentary about the secret practice of Vajravārāhı based on the sādhana by the Sixth Karmapa Tongwa Dönden (mThong ba don ldan, 1416-1453) that we had all practiced in three-year retreat. I had certainly used it as such. But as soon as I came across the actual words of the sādhana within the text, it was clearly not that. Tsuklak Trengwa gives the title of the sādhana as simply dPal rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma’i gsang ba’i grub thab, or Srı Vajrayoginı Guhya Sādhana, authored by Nāropa and translated by Marpa. Well that’s easy, I thought, because there’s a three-folia verse text in the Peking Tengyur by Nāropa, or rather Mahā Nāḍapāda, with just that Sanskrit name.[2] Great—only that was not it. Then I actually opened and looked at every single text attributed to Nāropa in the Tengyur, and could not find a match. Then for weeks there were random feverish searches on TBRC under every conceivable word, like “yoginī,” “secret,” “vajra,” “pig,” and so on. Finally one fine day brought up the Miscellaneous Works (gsung thor bu) of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (Dus gsum mkhyen pa, 1110-1193), and there I found it among several other secret Vajrayoginī practices, 29 folios and with no author, under the title dPal rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma’i gsang bsgrub [rdo?] rje btsun mo lhan skyes.[3] That was what I call a researcher’s moment of glory. It’s been all down hill from there.

The second big surprise was the nature of the text. I was looking forward to translating Pakmo Namshe because I understood it to be a practice commentary. Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa even says, “It is this sādhana exactly as presented by the bhagavatī herself that will be expounded here.” But after the first fifty pages I realized that it’s really a rebuttal, a giant polemic in defense of Kagyu practices. I’ve since found that many if not most Kagyu commentaries on Vajrayoginī written during this period, the 15th-16th centuries, are similarly on the defensive. At first I thought that if I could make it through the history section, just fourteen folios, then finally there would be the Dharma. But that naiveté was again shattered when a few pages into the so-called “actual instructions,” even in the section on the location in which to practice, (Mountain peaks and charnel grounds/ Lone tree trunks and empty caves/ Hermitages and isolated places,… ) the narrative bends around to start sections with that red warning flag of “mkhas pa kha chig gis,” and somehow launches into another tirade. The one most shocking for me was the quote early on that is the title of this paper, “As for the blessing of Vajravārāhı, Marpa Lhodrakpa does not have it.” I mean, what? There’s been great controversy about mahāmudrā and maybe some suspicious creative innovations by lineage masters, such as evidenced by the accusations leveled at Gampopa. But Marpa? And he doesn’t even have the blessing? As I figure it, we’re screwed. So I decided to jump right in to the fray and try to figure out what’s going on here. Truly it is a can of worms, and I barely got the lid off. In order to make some use of the considerable time and energy that I already spent on Pakmo Namshe, although my work on it has now been set aside, I will present excerpts primarily from my translation of that, and some from other researches, especially Sakya Paṇḍita, Gorampa, Padma Karpo, Tashi Namgyal, and Lowo Khenchen. I’ll also make available a polished translation of the history section. What follows is basically a travelogue of my confusions, or my ‘khrul pa’i thob yig.

Separating the issues
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Prajñāpāramitā, Indian “gzhan stong pas,” and the beginning of Tibetan gzhan stong

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is an ongoing debate about whether the gzhan stong system was “invented” by Tibetans, in particular by Dol po pa, or whether there are Indian precursors of that view. I will discuss evidence for a number of typical gzhan stong positions in several Indian texts and early Tibetan works before Dol po pa.

The “Maitreya Chapter” in the prajñāpāramitā sūtras
What the Tibetan tradition commonly calls “The Chapter Requested by Maitreya” is found in chapter 83 of the Aṣṭadāśāsāhasrikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra, chapter 72 of the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikāprajñāpāramitāsūtra, and the revised version of the latter. Certain parts of this chapter differ in their diction from the prajñāpāramitā sūtras in that all phenomena are divided into three aspects, such as “imaginary form (parikalpitaṃ rūpaṃ),” “conceived form (vikalpitaṃ rūpaṃ),” and “dharmatā-form (dharmatārūpaṃ).” These three types of phenomena and their descriptions match the three natures (parikalpita, paratantra, and pariniṣpanna). Therefore, many scholars regard the “Maitreya Chapter” as a later addition.
In general, there are two models for the relationship between the three natures. The common model (1) in Indian Yogācāra texts is that pariniṣpanna is described as paratantra’s being empty of parikalpita. Model (2), found in most of the texts discussed below and virtually all Tibetan works on gzhan stong, means that pariniṣpanna itself is empty of both paratantra and parikalpita. In Tibetan gzhan stong texts, the contrast between these two models is usually highlighted as representing one of the major differences between the views of sems tsam and gzhan stong.

In the “Maitreya Chapter,” the Buddha uses model (1), but says that both imaginary form (mere conventional designations such as “form”) and conceived form (the conditioned entities to which these designations are applied) do not exist ultimately, while only the dharmadhātu exists ultimately. When the latter is directly observed through nonconceptual wisdom, those entities are not observed. When they are observed, it is only through conception (vikalpa). This description is quite a standard explanation of the three natures as also found in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra (Chapters VI and VII) and many Yogācāra texts.
The “Maitreya Chapter” also offers a distinction between these three kinds of form in terms of their being ultimately real or unreal, saying that imaginary form is nonsubstantial, conceived form is substantial (by virtue of conception’s substantiality, but not because it exists independently), and dharmatā-form is neither substantial nor nonsubstantial, but is the ultimate.

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The 2011 Tsadra Foundation Fellows & Grantees Conference began today at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Participants flew in from around the world to share their research and their passion for translation, and to celebrate more than ten years of Tsadra Foundation projects.

 

Tsadra Fellows, grantees, and guests gathered for the opening dinner at Houston Mills House, just across the iron bridge from ECC.

 

The next three days will be filled with presentations from some of the best translators in the world on such diverse topics as translation theory, the Indian and Tibetan sources of gzhan stong, and the autobiographical writings of Kun dga’ grol mchog.

བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཤོག

another photo of the same fellows

another photo of the same fellows

slightly less blurry ?

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