The Life and Times of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
The first half of this volume presents informal stories by many of Chökyi Lodrö’s teachers, students, friends, and relatives, collected by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche and translated here into English for the first time. Intimate, funny, and utterly down-to-earth, these stories—supplemented by sixty-one photographs—paint a tender picture of the man behind the great master, introducing readers to the characters and events in his life, and especially the challenges he faced living under the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
The second half comprises an English translation of the spiritual biography, or namtar, by Dilgo Khyentse, one of Chökyi Lodrö’s closest and most brilliant students. In the process of recounting the life and liberation of his beloved guru, Dilgo Khyentse reveals how he saw Chökyi Lodrö as the Buddha in the flesh and provides, essentially, a blueprint of the entire path to enlightenment.
nota de tradução: we also enjoyed some wonderfully
illuminating moments of clarity. For example, Jigme Khyentse
Rinpoche suggested that “an emanation of the boundless display of compassion”
(Wyl. thugs rje yas sprul ) could be translated as “the very manifestation
of pure compassion,” which not only was a beautiful and brilliant
solution, it also encouraged us to allow our imaginations to soar a little.
Early on in the process, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche took the trouble
to adjust our rather pedestrian translation of the opening few pages:
The marvelous and perfect example of your life, as rare as the
Pervades throughout Jambudvipa like the light of the sun and
“‘Pervades’? It’s more like ‘spreads.’ Is there a better word for spread?” he
asked. “It’s like this . . .” And he poured the water from his glass onto the
table. “The water has ‘spread,’” he said, “but the connotation is that it is
effortless and unstoppable. Like a flood.”
And so the lines have become
The marvelous and immaculate example of your life, as rare as an
Like sun and moon, floods Jambudvipa with a blaze of light.
Concentrate on getting the meaning across, said Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche.
Start by making sure that, however rough it looks in English, every
single Tibetan word has been translated. Only once you’re satisfied that
you’ve fully translated the meaning of each and every word should you
then polish the language. Ultimately, the text must sound as though it
were originally written in English—don’t leave it half-boiled.
Use as man literal translations of the Tibetan as you can, but if being literal conveys
the wrong meaning or makes the text unreadable or dull, change it. At the
same time, try to remove as little as possible. But make sure the end result
is good English.
In addition to offering advice about the practical act of translating the
text, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche recommended that we pray to Dilgo Khyentse
Rinpoche inseparable from Manjushri for inspiration, and then start
work. He pointed out that the never-read
books gathering dust on umpteen
library shelves around the world were often written by scholars who
didn’t write from the inspiration of bodhichitta. And for this translation
to be beneficial and readable, he said, it must be inspiring; to just grind out
a text conceptually won’t work. “What you need is inspiration, because it’s
inspiration that opens something up within you. Then you need the guts
to dig the translations out of your mouths—to make a real effort, based on
genuine renunciation and the courage to attempt to expose the meaning.”
Pema Wangyal Rinpoche also recommended that we arouse bodhichitta
before we started work, focus our attention as we translated or edited without
falling victim to distraction, and then dedicate the merit towards the
enlightenment of all sentient beings. In this way, he said, our work would
become a spiritual practice, and however long the translation took to finish,
ultimately it would help others.
Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche then turned to the issue of how to translate
quotations from the tantras. He felt that the words should be set down
quite literally, “just as they are,” because there’s no way of knowing if a
“meaning” translation is correct or not. He explained that in Tibetan, tantric
language is so wrapped up in poetic devices that even Tibetan readers
can’t understand it. Literate Tibetans might be able to read the individual
words of the namtar, and some may even appreciate the rare grace of the
language, but few are able to understand what it truly means—which is why
Tibetans usually rely on the commentaries. Whatever the language, poetry
by its very nature is enigmatic, so the English translation of a Tibetan verse
is likely to be just as obscure as the original. The important thing, both Rinpoches
agreed, is that the lyricism—the poetry—should be retained, even if
it appears to obfuscate the meaning. If readers really want to know what the
verse is about, they should ask their teachers to explain it to them."