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6/27/2014

Buddhist Persecution Past and Present

Whereas Shakyamuni Buddha accepted students from all walks of life, including the Untouchables who were born into the lowest echelon of the hierarchical Indian caste system, some so-called monastic teachers have told other monastics that they are ill suited for the monastic life. 

Political infighting in Buddhist monastic orders past and present have led to monastics being overtly and covertly forced into becoming lay people. The force behind laicization varies. https://www.flickr.com/photos/costafederico/4987993988/in/photostream/


In historical China, the most egregious form of forced laicization occurred under emperor Wu. He ordered the destruction of all things Buddhist. According to Xu Liu’s records of history, the emperor “was soon able to boast of closing over 4,600 monasteries, confiscating enormous tracts of monastery land, laicizing 260,500 monks and nuns. . . . scriptures were burned and priests were executed.”

Master Hsuan Hua (1918 - 1995) had revealed the many extreme tactics and power plays that his disciples employed to oust fellow monks or nuns. Search for not yet censored or "cleaned up" talks by this enlightened teacher for some unfortunate specifics that I do not wish to iterate here. Unpublished transcripts of disciples' self-revelations also affirm these stories from the 60's and on.

6/23/2014

Chinese-English Buddhist Translation Theory Proposed

The Dynamic Possibilities Theory
One Possibility
As a result of pondering sacred text translation discourses east and west, four aspects of Buddhist philosophical views of language and texts, I have developed one possible theory for the translation of Buddhist sacred texts from Chinese to English. I balance American Bible Society theorist Eugene Nida’s dynamic equivalence theory on the target side plus Buddhist intentionality and continued dialogic with the interlocutor of the sacred text on the author side -- if we have to name sides in what I mean to be cycles as seen in the diagram below. To elucidate too, “intentionality” as Buddhist scholar Masao Abe identifies it, is “not so much a textual question as it was -- and more properly is -- a human and existential one.” He insists that the capacity for deep interlocution is in the Buddhist sacred texts long after the death of the author or orator.
Ground this equation in ancient Buddhist translation models, including the determination to evolve spiritually, the divide morphs among participants, languages, texts, contexts, motives, and understanding with each additional dynamic interaction. 
The following is my published illustration in Translating Totality in Parts: Chengguan's Commentaries and Subcommentaries to the Avatamsaka Sutra. This two-dimensional diagram is meant to resemble an infinity symbol where each member along the translation spectrum is so intimately connected to the others that there is no reified one or the other.








6/09/2014

Eight Qualities of Buddhist Translators

Have been introducing features of translation approaches by Chinese Buddhist translators from the second to tenth centuries in China. Presentations in Canada and Thailand thus far have been well received. 

Cancong's advocacy for Buddhist translators' inner cultivation is a special feature that sacred text translators east and west may be interested in.


An Excerpt from the Biographies of Preeminent Monks, Continued
by Cancong (彥琮  557 - 610 AD)


Be sincere and love the Dharma, aim to benefit others --
      do not grow weary over time, this is the first preparatory step.
About to step onto the field of enlightenment,
first secure the fulfillment of precepts --
      do not be tainted by mockery and deviance, this is the second preparatory step.
Understand the Tripitaka completely, so you connect the two vehicles --
      do not be afraid of obscurity and stagnation, this is the third preparatory step.
Tread the histories of ancient times, perfect the craft of classics and poetry,
      do not become crude and clumsy, this is the fourth preparatory step.
Embrace equanimity and forgiveness,
let your heart's capacity be spacious and integrating,
      do not enjoy specializations that become attachments,
this is the fifth preparatory step.
Indulge in the art of the Way, take fame and fortune lightly,
      do not wish to climb high and shine, this is the sixth preparatory step.
Know the Sanskrit language so as to be at ease with proper translation,
      do not falter in your studies, this is the seventh preparatory step.
Browse airily through elegant writings, know the forms of calligraphy overall --
      do not be enchanted by these texts, this is the eighth preparatory step.
               

誠心愛法,志願益人,久時,其備一也;
將踐覺場,先牢戒足,不染譏惡,其備二也;
荃曉三藏,一貫兩乘,不苦暗滯,其備三也;
旁涉,工綴典詞,不過魯拙,其備四也;
襟抱平恕,器量虛融,不好專執,其備五也;
耽于道術,淡于名利,不欲高,其備六也;
要識梵言,乃閒正譯,不墜彼學,其備七也;

薄閱蒼雅,粗諳篆隸,不昧此文,其備八也.