One’s heart-mind is like a sun: It has natural cognisance and the quality of brilliance. It reveals the tremendous open space that is the wisdom of one’s own mind and is the clarity of this open view. Inside of that is warmth, which is compassion.

— Dza Kilung Rinpoche

Dza Kilung Rinpoche 9.

The most important step in spiritual growth is the decision to avoid evil and cultivate goodness within your stream of being. On the basis of this fundamental discipline, every spiritual quality becomes possible, even the eventual perfection of Buddhahood.

— Ling Rinpoche

Ling Rinpoche 1.

Lost in Translation
by Anam Thubten Rinpoche

By the end of this century, a whole host of rare languages will have disappeared in the same way that endangered species are extinguished from the face of the Earth. You might like to call this the extinction of language. Some ancient languages such as Latin and Sanskrit are still around, but they are considered dead because no existing societies use them in everyday life.

At one time, it was quite common for Indian Buddhist masters to compose sadhanas and philosophical texts in Sanskrit. However, many Buddhist Sanskrit texts have been lost forever in the midst of turbulent events, or because no one maintained them. Today, many texts exist in Tibetan and other Asian languages, indeed there is a huge body of Buddhist texts, originally translated from Sanskrit, that now exist only in the Tibetan language.

For the last few decades, a number of individuals and institutions have been studiously translating numerous Tibetan texts into English. This work is almost a form of life insurance for these sacred scriptures. English is already the global lingua franca and will only continue to grow in usage and popularity. As long as these texts exist in English, there is always going to be someone who can understand them. One of the good things about this development is that almost all Tibetan words, including their subtle nuances, can be expressed in English. This is partly because English has a vast vocabulary and can convey both intuitive and technical concepts that some other languages might struggle with. Already, many Buddhist sanghas all over the world are chanting Buddhist liturgies and studying the texts in English.

Translating the sutras and shastras into Classical Tibetan took place as early as the eighth century. Trisong Detsen (r. c. 755–797), the 38th emperor of Tibet, sponsored this project at Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first gompa. He and various panditas also sanctioned standardised Dharma terms with the Madhyavyutpatti, two scrolls of standardised translation conventions that were used as reference texts. This helped to ensure the success of that ambitious and far-reaching project.

Today, however, there is no authority with the power to implement such a standard. Everyone is acting independently, with no form of collaboration that could help to unify the work of modern translators. This situation has both positive and negative implications, yet it is important to address the downsides because they are not being actively discussed in a public way. One of the most troubling issues is that particular texts can be overly influenced by the biases of a single person. In addition, a text can be translated by three translators in three different ways such that each version becomes localised without any authoritative version. Furthermore, individual translations of this kind can contain a lot of mistakes. There is a very real danger, therefore, that these problems could continue and eventually get out of hand.

A variety of sadhanas, prayers, poems, dohas, sutras, shastras, and tantras have been translated into English by well-known translators, and by some not-so-well-known ones. We should be thankful for their work in making the wisdom of the Buddhadharma available to so many people, and also for their contribution to its preservation. Overall, there is no doubt that they have done a great job.

That being said, it is possible that a translator, albeit well intention, may have tried to stay overly faithful to the literal meaning of the original text, resulting not only in the loss of poetic elements and the text’s power to move the reader but also in an unnatural-sounding translation filled with many nonsensical terms. The area that we must pay attention to is the possibility of translators making mistakes by not understanding or misunderstanding the meaning and intent of words and concepts in the original language.

Two of history’s most outstanding translators were Kumarajiva (334–413) and Vairotsana (fl. c. eighth century), both of whom manifested a certain genius in their ability to translate texts into a new language, retaining the original meaning without losing its profound poetic power and resonance. Kumarajiva translated Sanskrit texts into Chinese, which wasn’t even his first language. It is said that later Tibetan translators were humbled by the brilliance of Vairotsana’s work. The famous 12th-century translator Ngog Loden Sherab (1059–1109) said of these great translators:

Vairotsana’s knowledge is equal to the sky,
Ka and Chok are like the Sun and the Moon, and
Rinchen Zangpo is like a star at dawn.
Before them, I am like a butterfly.

We may never see another Vairotsana, even with all the training and educational materials that are available in modern times.

During the eighth century, Tibetan translators worked closely with Indian panditas. Evidence of this can easily be seen by reading the short colophons at the end of sutras, wherein the names of the panditas and translators are recorded. Besides being intimately familiar with two languages, the translators were usually also excellent scholars and meditators. This is why the Tibetan translations are so formidable in their quality. And because of these translations, many of the sutras, shastras, and tantras that were lost in India, remained intact in the Tibetan language and are still available to scholars and practitioners today.

Western translators might consider emulating the success of these ancient scholars by creating more bridges of communication between each other and coming up with unifying ways to work together. This will help ensure better quality translations and establish working structures that can minimise mistakes. Of course, excessive structure and standardisation can also stifle creativity and improvement, so there must be a middle way through which we can reap the most benefit for the future of the Dharma. But let me leave that up to the scholars and translators who feel that they are the experts in this field.

Anam Thubten 4.

I always thank my karma to be able to find all these great spiritual masters with excellent qualities, not only that, I am so happy to be able to put their teaching into practice, at least I try. I really don’t want to waste their time and my time. We always have to live as though we are going to die the next moment because it will make us realise how precious our time is and how important it is for us to make sure that we are not wasting it by doing nonsense, thinking nonsense and speaking nonsense. Then our lives would be wasted and when impermanence really comes, we are not ready. Sometimes, I always tell my friends and students that it’s better to do something that will help you after you die. The moment we were born, we have been going step by step towards death. Life and death, again, is like two sides of a coin, it’s part of samsara that we have to understand, accept and deal with.

— His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

Gyalwang Drukpa 19.










二、菩萨保佑—— 衡阳城自民国二十八年至三十三年,不断地被敌机轰炸,全城房屋毁去殆半,死伤人民不知若干,我有时听到警报,走出城郊或避在山林,有时不及走避,静坐佛前,或躺卧床上,惊心动魄的炸弹,有许多次只隔一河、隔一巷、隔一山头,甚至仅隔一壁,那些炸片、灰尘、浓烟纷纷落在眼前、笼罩身边,我每临这种极危险的时候,就想到我是行慈悲利众生的人,打死我就等于打死一切众生,一心默念观世音菩萨,把生死置于度外,幸蒙菩萨暗地呵护,身体从未碰破一点。

三、人人爱敬—— 我的父母师友个个都喜欢我,人人都说我好,呼我为“老实人”“老菩萨”。间或有极少数的人对我有所疑虑或误会,然而不久因我的真诚,往往回恨作喜;间或我对人有所违犯或责备,然而人们会谅解我的善意,往往会心微笑,还有些人受我恩惠、受我一颗善心的感动,替我忠实做事,替我拚命效劳,不能尽述。


五、免刀兵灾—— 衡阳沦陷后,日兵不分僧俗,任意掳人替他们挑担子,每担重有七八十斤,每天要走七八十里,挑不起走不动就被凌辱,稍有叽唔便遭毒打、刺杀,而且看守甚严,又不易逃返,所以十去九死,难得一二生回。我因收租往演陂桥,正是日兵往来之区,他们天天到各乡村打掳,我和同伴也天天走避山野,有一次正向前走时,忽从山右转出三个可怕的日兵来,措手不及,被他们擒住,向我们提包摸了两把,对我们问了几句听不懂的蛮语,我无心无意答了一声“阿弥陀佛”,他们把手一挥,放了我们回来,否则被他们掳去,我还有活命吗么?

六、晚年狱灾—— 民国三十年秋,友人江斌由南岳进香返衡阳,坚邀我和澄源师同看电影,幕完后同被警备部逮捕入狱,次日提讯,方知江为仇人诬害,说他组织暗杀团,我们无辜受累,随即函请宝生老和尚保释,经五六日未接回音,澄师性急如火,又促我拍电报虚大师求救,我默想明日是星期日,后日是星期一,是我得乐离苦的日子。考之以往总有感应,想至此似觉有一道灵乐闪烁,约我以有希望的暗示,乃再三劝他静候两天,果然于星期一之晨,该部得宝老信派专车送我们出狱返岳。

七、免水火灾—— 我常常冒着暴风雨过江,有几次,遇着大风大浪,江潮汹涌澎湃,明明看前面有只船被白涛声所没,我这只船也摇摇欲翻,我急念“南无大悲观世音菩萨”,也要船上人同念,因而渡过那些危难。又有几次从枪林弹雨中逃出,许多人死伤于炮火,我又幸免。最险者:是三十三年衡阳大战时,六月廿一日我同救护队人员离开城区,廿三日全城便遭兵燹。像这些事,真令人不可思义。


九、福常随身—— 有人说:“人生不如意事,常十之八九。”我以为不尽然,在我的遭遇,反觉得不如意事仅十之一二,而如意事恰有十之八九:身心的安乐,师友的爱敬,灾难的远离,烦恼的轻薄……这一切都使我无忧无虑。我读书每感到头头是道,乐以忘忧;我写文每感到左右逢源,用之不竭;我出行,一到码头、车站就搭到舟车,不曾久等过;我用钱,一到用完时接着就有钱来,不曾受逼过……这一切又使我自由自在。古人说“命由我作,福自己求”“祸福无门,唯人所召”“欲知前世因,今生受者是”这些话,我觉得丝毫不错。

十、得生净土—— 我能不能往生净土?这是死后的事,不敢预定;然而根据净土经论及祖师语录所说,像我这样行世仁慈的人,又读诵大乘经典,受持三聚净戒,孝敬父师长,并且对净土法门有深切的信仰,至诚和回向,恒常笃实的行持,依理推测,想必得生净土。有一次在岐山七期第三天,于似睡非睡的朦胧中,梦见阿弥陀佛来到面前,告慰我说:“你很慈悲,又认真念佛,愿你继续精进,将来你可坐四品以上的莲台。”我得了这个预兆,想死后往生净土不成问题了。


Ven Ming Shan (茗山长老) 2.

The guru is the equal of all the buddhas. To make any connection with him, whether through seeing him, hearing his voice, remembering him or being touched by his hand, will lead us toward liberation. To have full confidence in him is the sure way to progress toward enlightenment. The warmth of his wisdom and compassion will melt therefore of our being and release the gold of the buddha-nature within.

— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche 7

Buddhism (Questions and Answers)
by Akong Rinpoche

What is Buddhism? I think when I look at it and try to simplify it I would say that in my view Buddhism is about self-development; how to develop loving-kindness, how to develop compassion; how to develop tolerance. It Is about how to develop ourselves in this direction so that we are not just thinking of ourselves but thinking of how we can help all other people. It is about self-development but not in the sense of development of ego or self-importance, but about developing loving-kindness and compassion so by achieving that we can also help others. I think this is a simple description of what Buddhism Is.

This is a path which most decent human beings would try to follow regardless of religion – or no religion – so in what way does Buddhism offer anything different?

I think the main difference between the Buddhist path and others is that Buddhism always says that you have to deal with all obstacles and that you should not try to escape from anything – including yourself. It teaches that you have to come to terms with all your own emotions and all situations – positive as well as negative. You have to face yourself, and deal with your own fears and reactions and not run away. Buddhism also says very clearly say that in order to develop tolerance, loving-kindness and compassion you have to train, or tame, your mind. Just trying to have positive thoughts Is not quite enough; you have to achieve them; therefore an essential part of the path of Buddhism is the practice and study of meditation. In the beginning, it may look as though the learning and practice of meditation is running away from the problem but it is not. It is the opposite. You practise and study meditation in order to be able to face problems and be better able to help others. I think that overall there is much similarity in the teachings of all religions but I think that Buddhism emphasises that you have to deal with all your own rubbish before you can be much help to others.

Some people feel attracted to “Tibetan” Buddhism but are not clear about how much is Buddhism and how much is the Tibetan culture. Some of the imagery can seem quite alien. Can you give some guidelines?

I don’t think it matters very much. Those who wish to understand will understand whatever you do. Many stranger things happen! For example, an astronaut went to the moon and soon tourists will be going there. It seems very strange to me, but those who want to understand the significance of this will find an understanding. From the Buddhist view, the Buddha taught many different techniques – 84,000 different teachings – in order to help different sorts of people. Tibetan Buddhism passes on to us these teachings on how to help and how to benefit. There is nothing in any of the teachings that can do harm to anyone or can encourage wrong views. That would be against the principle of Buddhism. Every teaching – all 84,000 – contains something positive and the Tibetan approach, the Vajrayana approach, is included In these. But the presentation doesn’t really matter. Different people like different presentations; some people like one style, some people prefer another. Though Buddhism originally came from India many Indian people prefer the Tibetan style and the Tibetan art. It is not necessarily the case that Indians always prefer the Indian style, and Tibetans the Tibetan style; some Tibetans may prefer the Indian style. So I think it is very much up to each individual. The art, the pictures, the decorations – these just represent things. They give your busy mind something to do which is more positive than thinking about what your neighbours are saying. They are there to help you. But if you find that they are not helpful – then there is no need to look at them – you can just think of what they represent. It doesn’t matter what you believe, what matters is what you do!

In the traditional Buddhist countries women have a low status in society, is this due to the religion – Buddhism – or is it the culture of the country?

I think Lord Buddha’s teaching is valuable for whoever comes. The teachings are for whoever has a brain. He taught more for some and less for others but it is not important whether they are “man” or “woman”. He ordained his own stepmother as the first nun and this was the first time ever that there was the possibility for women to follow a religious life. But society is a different matter. Wherever you go in the far East a women’s job is to stay at home and look after the children or her parents. Therefore, although a few nunneries exist they are normally smaller and poorer than the monasteries. In these nunneries, I am sure there will be some nuns who teach the other nuns and perhaps sometimes a very famous nun to whom laypeople go to receive the teachings. Generally though, men – and therefore monks -are more respected than women but I think It has more to do with society, with the culture, than with Lord Buddha’s teaching.

Although Buddhism places a great emphasis on compassion there is not a good record of active compassion in eastern countries’ can you comment on this?

One of the main teachings of Tibetan (or Vajrayana) Buddhism is called the ‘Six Paramitas’ All Vajrayana and Mahayana teachings are based on the six paramitas and the first paramita is “generosity” or “charity”. I think that when someone who is a true Buddhist gives to charity they give very sincerely and very honestly. In western society, you may notice that perhaps people are giving more than in the East, but the giving is more likely to be based on ego and more likely to have strings attached. Too often it is charity with a capital “C”. “I am the one who gives and ‘they” receiver and “I want to become very famous because I am so generous. I want to have a label saying how good I am to poor people”. Buddha once said that if you want to give with a pure heart, first you have to meditate and develop wisdom so that you can give without attachment. We discussed “non-attachment” earlier. “Non-attached” charity is when you give something totally, both mentally and physically. It means having the right state of mind when you make the gift as well as the actual gift itself. In a previous life, the Buddha gave his own body; in another life, he gave his eye. We should all try to achieve that level of non-attachment, non-possessiveness. I think that those who give charity in the East are more likely to have that development. If you don’t have that development, that right state of mind, if you cannot truly give wholeheartedly with no strings attached, then the person who receives your gift may benefit but you may end up with a poisoned mind. I think that perhaps people in the West may not understand that some wisdom is needed. I think in the East they may take more time and try to develop themselves first. This may take some time and may mean that for certain periods in their life they do not give much but I think the idea of giving has always existed.

Akong Rinpoche 18.

There are two major systems in this world, the mundane and spiritual. These two systems are like two eyes, thus it is important to know them both. It is important to know the essence of these systems. Some people in this world refuse all spirituality, they only believe in the improvement of science. This is slightly mistaken. We do need science but at the same time must not neglect our minds. And even within different belief systems, there is disagreement. To me, all religions are necessary and good. I also am very fond of science. I like to have two eyes wide open.

— Garchen Rinpoche

Garchen Rinpoche 35.























Ven Da An (大安法师) 23.


Without discursive thought, it is just dharma practice. Hope together with aim obscures. One does not cut through pride by meditatively cultivating the desire for happiness. If there is hope, even the hope for buddhas, it is a negative force. If there is apprehension, even apprehension about hells, it is a negative force.

— Machig Labdrön

Machig Labdron (马吉拉准) 24.