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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 57 doesn’t mean that one just follows the advice of one’s teacher or simply takes up the practice of meditation outside of its proper context. To follow the path, one has to practice it within the context of the overarching Buddhist view of real- ity; to gain that overarching perspective, one doesn’t have to read the texts in their entirety, but it’s important at least to go back to the older sources within one’s own tradition and get a clear conceptual understanding of the fundamental teachings. GRIFFITH FOULK: For me, translation was first a learning tool, not a teaching tool. I was trying to make sense out of a foreign tra- dition and I wanted to bracket my own understanding, to set it aside. I wanted to see what the tradition had to say, and learn- ing those foreign languages and trying to make sense of them, of what I was reading, did always initially involve translation. How do you know that you understand something? When you can say it in other words—that’s true in your own lan- guage as well as in others. Trying to translate drives you to understanding; it makes you study. So for me, translation has (Top) A Tibetan text on Mahamudra believed to be handwritten by Marpa Lotsawa (1012–1097), who is credited with translating the teachings of Mahamudra and transmitting them to Tibet (Left) Sarah Harding works on a translation project aided by scans of Tibetan texts and other technology At this point, there is a good foundation of translated material for authentic transmission, but not everyone takes advantage of that. — Sarah Harding been a critical tool in my own pursuit of a Buddhist path. SARAH HARDING: My teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, said he wanted us all to learn Tibetan—not because he was Tibetan, but because reading the original would give us a much deeper understand- ing of dharma. I’ve found that to be true, so of course, I would encourage anybody to look into that approach. And in the case of Tibetan Buddhists, I would recommend not just sticking with Tibetan Buddhism but also looking at the earlier texts—the Pali canon and so forth—for two reasons: for your own education and verification of the dharma and for the inspiration of others’ experience. Barring that—knowing not everybody is going to learn one of the Buddhist languages—I would say, read our translations. We are trying to make faithful translations, and I believe one does need the dharma as a guide. The market is an open one— you can hear every kind of idea out there. You have to make sure that what you are hearing or understanding is within the tradition. (TOP)TSADRAFOUNDATION(INSET)SHANACERA