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Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
35 fall 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly him uncomfortable, saying, “We’re not really in a position to empower him.” No sooner were those words out of his mouth than a tre- mendous thunderclap rocked the building. There was a flash, and the lights went out. The translators broke into applause and laughter. When the crowd settled down, they changed the wording to, “We humbly request Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to select...” Toward the end of the conference, the question arose: Where to begin? The participants opted for the Kangyur, but when the Dalai Lama granted them an audience, they decided to ask him to suggest a Kangyur text for them to start with. His recommendation: “Concentrate on the Tengyur.” The Kangyur, His Holiness said, is “something like a root text. But for study, for example with the Prajnaparamita (Per- fection of Wisdom), I think the Tengyur is better.” Reflecting the traditional Tibetan view, he added, “Without being able to rely on these commentaries, we can get confused if we simply read the Kangyur.” Unfortunately for the group, this advice came after the con- ference had formally ended, and the goals and resolution had already been adopted. Chatting with a couple of participants afterward, it seemed that, in light of the Dalai Lama’s advice, there was some confusion about how to proceed. The conference, though, was not viewed as an end, but a beginning. What is certain is that over the course of the conference, solidarity of purpose helped the translators slowly but surely coalesce into a team—one that, through its sheer size, may be able to tackle translation projects that were previ- ously impossible. Thomas Yarnall, usually rather understated, practically gushed with excitement. “This conference has been very remarkable—a very exciting, historic conference,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for thirty, thirty-five years, and you can really feel that this is a turning point. This is it.” That word, “historic”—I wondered about that. The confer- ence had been billed as “a historic gathering of translators,” but will it really go down in history as a turning point? That’s a bold claim. Will future historians of Buddhism look back at this meeting and compare it to the efforts of Tibet’s great dharma patron, King Trisong Detsen, to bring the buddhad- harma to his country from India? “Of course it’s historic in its determination and purpose and, I think, the quality of the people... the quality of the motivation,” Matthieu Ricard said. “I think I will probably realize how historic it is in five years,” when its impact can be better assessed. An enthusiastic Elizabeth Napper summed up the mood: “The beauty of it is finding a way for people to work together. It’s a hugely optimistic vision, but I think the potential is just tremendous.” The Dalai Lama (standing in the center) poses with conference participants after meeting with them. coREykohnMaThIEuRIcaRd people wishing to support the project and translators wishing to participate may contact the khyentse foundation by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.khyentsefoundation.org.