Translating the Words of the Buddha

From March 16-20 in the beautiful Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh, at the Deer Park in Bir, India, over fifty translators and scholars of Tibetan Buddhism gathered for 5 days of intense and constructive discussions, to which I was fortunate to participate. This wonderful conference was organized by the Khyentse Foundation.

The group also included major scholars engaged in life-long projects to study and translate the Pali and Chinese versions of the Buddhist Canon.

The conference was conducted in an uplifting spirit of commitment and collaboration under the leadership of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and other teachers from the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It outlined a vision for the next one hundred years to ‟translate and make universally accessible the Buddhist literary heritage.” Five and twenty-five year goals were also defined that include the translation of the Tibetan Tripitaka (Kangyur, Tangyur, as well as canonical sources) and many other volumes of text written by Tibetan masters.

The group widely supported the goal of gathering all the resources available (original texts, existing translations, dictionaries, glossaries, etc) and making them available in an open-source manner. Messages of support were sent from all over the world to encourage the translation work.

As a inspiring conclusion to the conference, the teachers, translators and scholars were received by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness gave us profound advice and emphasized the usefulness of first translating the commentaries written by the 17 great Indian pandita of the Nalanda tradition, in order to provide the necessary foundation to understanding the words of the Buddha that are collected in the Kangyur.