using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 51 (LEFT—RIGHT):SARAHHARDING,SARAHJ.HORTON,UNKNOWN entirety several times, though not especially well. BUDDHADHARMA: You mentioned that translation wasn’t highly valued early on in the United States. What were some of the underlying reasons for that? BHIKKHU BODHI: When I first encountered American Buddhism, after I had already been a monk for several years, I discov- ered that there was a strong anti-textual and anti-intellectual bias among followers of the Vipassana tradition. The message seemed to be that we get enough of book learning in college and university, so when we take up Buddhism, we’re going to plunge ourselves into meditation and put all of the books, words, and concepts aside. Instead, people wanted to contact the dharma through direct experience. GRIFFITH FOULK: That same idea was rife among Zen practi- tioners in the West and may have carried over to Vipassana. Thankfully, we’ve been slowly digging ourselves out of that mind-set. SARAH HARDING: That attitude is still prevalent, though. I teach at Naropa University, and even students often come with that idea, although they’re usually divested of it by the end of their studies. But there is a persistent belief that practice means we should not be thinking but rather focused solely on medita- tion. The whole idea that meditation is the central practice of Buddhism is a misconception. BUDDHADHARMA: It’s obviously a popular point of view in the West, and it must make the job for translators that much harder. After all, you’re devoting years of your life to trans- lating works that many practitioners may not see any point in reading. BHIKKHU BODHI: Well, over the decades there has been a sig- nificant shift in perspective among American Buddhists. Now many people are reading the Nikayas and studying them, although with the development of online dharma discus- sion and chat groups they can get caught up in quite hostile exchanges of opinion, quoting the texts either too freely or with a fundamentalist attitude. SARAH HARDING: Everyone and their cousin is a dharma teacher these days, and if there aren’t primary materials available, the teachings will come completely unhinged from any tradition at all. People may not want to hear that, but making those resources available, at the very least, is becoming all the more important. GRIFFITH FOULK: My experience of Zen practice in the United States and Europe is that these days people are hungry for good translations. The project I’m involved in, the Soto Zen Text Project, will publish heavily annotated scholarly transla- tions of Dogen and Keizan. I’ve found that practitioners at Zen centers are very grateful to get their hands on such texts. So things have changed. BUDDHADHARMA: As you’re doing that kind of work, though, who are you imagining as your real audience? GRIFFITH FOULK: I imagine graduate students, scholars, and seri- ous practitioners who really want to engage the tradition but don’t have the language training. BHIKKHU BODHI: When I began to study Pali, I did not intend to become a scholar or a translator. I simply wanted to under- stand the texts in their original language to ensure that my view and practice would be in conformity with the teachings that came down from the Buddha. I made my first transla- tions simply for myself so I could look at the teachings in my own native language. Now, when I translate, I bear in mind a similar type of reader—not academic scholars but those who wish to guide their view and practice by the dharma and who aren’t prepared to learn the original language of the texts. SARAH HARDING: For me, it depends on the book in question. Some texts I would consider extremely helpful for practi- tioners; others I wouldn’t expect them to read, but I think dharma teachers should be obliged to go into the more dif- ficult ideas that are found in primary texts. BUDDHADHARMA: Is that how we bridge the gap between schol- ars and practitioners, then—by putting the responsibility on those who are empowered as teachers? Should they be the ones primarily engaging these texts, or can we expect ordinary practitioners to also take a more studied approach to dharma? BHIKKHU BODHI: There can be a problem if practitioners read texts on their own without the guidance of a teacher. I con- sider it essential for those who are going to become dharma teachers—even if they’re not completely fluent in the original language—to at least be trained in the texts so they’ll acquire a solid, deep, and systematic understanding of the teachings. Otherwise, I’d say there is too great a temptation to bend the dharma to fit into the underlying premises of the contempo- rary Western worldview. We have, for example, what’s called secular Buddhism, wherein certain dimensions of the original teachings such as karma, rebirth, and dependent origination in its classical three-life interpretation—shared by all the early Buddhist doctrinal systems—are dismissed as merely part of the Indian cultural worldview. The dharma is subjected to a materialist reductionism derived from a scientific understand- ing of the world. GRIFFITH FOULK: I have to confess to being an intellectual snob. Although I’ve dedicated all of this time and energy to trans- lation, I actually think that to understand the East Asian These days practitioners are grateful to get their hands on heavily annotated scholarly translations of Dogen and Keizan. So things have changed. — Griffith Foulk