Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm feeling obscured

I've seen the term shes bya'i sgrib pa translated in two somewhat different ways:

1. cognitive obscuration, knowledge obscuration in the sense of erroneous knowledge obscuring the nature of mind. I understand the erroneous knowledge to be the belief in the self-identity of individuals and the self-identity of phenomena.

2. obstructions to omniscience, obscuration of the knowable, obstruction to objects of knowledge

In #1, the shes bya obscure the nature of mind and have a negative connotation. In #2 the shes bya seem to be equated with true knowledge and thus have a positive connotation.

So here's the question: how should we understand the shes bya in shes bya'i sgrib pa?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

sgom, bsgoms, bsgom, sgoms

Tim Walton said: I think "familiarizing" is a very viable option for "sgom". Paraphrasing Milarepa, "Meditation is just familiarization."

Marcus Perman said:
I have also thought about familiarizing also, an in some instances it seems just right. However, sometimes it doesn't feel "strong enough". Sometimes "familiarize" has an almost pejorative sense in English. When we talk about the importance of meditation we don't want to say "It is important to familiarize yourself with meditation," and imply that you don't really have to do it very often or that a simple "familiarity" with it is enough. We want to say that it is important to do more than that, which is why perhaps "cultivate" would be better. Then we can say "it is important to cultivate meditative stabilization," for instance. Or, in the title of the text I am currently working on, zhi lhag gi sgom rim bsam gtan sgron me, I could say: The Lamp of Meditative Stabilization: the process of familiarization with shamatha and vipashyana," but "the process of cultivating Shamatha and Vipashyana" seems to be better in this instance. It is interesting to note that sometimes people confuse bsam gtan (dhyaana) and sgom. That is they translate sgom as meditation and talk about the paramita of meditation, which would be bsam gtan gyi pha rol tu phyin pa, not sgom pa'i pha rol tu phin pa. On the other hand, sgom does clearly come to mean the practice of seated meditation in some instances. So perhaps cultivation or familiarization sometimes and meditation other times?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Draft of our Mission Statement:

This is a new draft as of Sept. 14, 2008, which includes Gerry Weiner's input. Please review and make comments or changes. If you have no comment, please write that you have read it and approve or disapprove of it as our group's mission statement so that we know if there is consensus.

Inspired by the vision of the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, our mission is to translate key texts found in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and to support both established and up and coming translators in their work. We provide support in the form of online resource sharing, discussion forums, mentoring, education, and regular meetings for members. We aim to seek financial support for individual and group translation projects of our members. Each of the members is committed to supporting the spiritual practice of the larger Nalandhabodhi sangha and to support the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's vision for bringing Buddhism to the West. It is our goal to facilitate this commitment and vision through translations that are accurate and clear presentations of the Buddhist dharma.

hearing, listening, studying and learning

thos bsam sgom pa - These three are often translated as hearing, contemplating, and meditating. However, 'hearing' often ends up sounding awkard, especially when singled out as its own practice. As far as I understand it, it is quite clear that 'thos' does not only mean using one's ears. It includes reading, studying and learning in general. Some translators do use studying or learning instead of hearing or listening. Perhaps we could flush out some of the arguments together and discuss this translation issue. For instance, isn't the use of thos by Tibetans a usage coming from Sanskrit and an Indian culture in which things were not written down very much and learning was simply listening and memorizing? Does the need to be literal with thos outweigh the importance of conveying the meaning that the action of thos-ing involves more than just listening. What do people think? What about learning, contemplating, and cultivating instead of hearing, contemplating, and meditating?

Monday, August 27, 2007

kha sgo phan pa

Does anyone know what kha sgo phan pa means? I think it has something to do with composition structure. I found a quote in the Tengyur that says "'di man kha sgo phan pa," in a place where it seems to be listing names of flowers (?). In the rigs gzhung rgya mtsho, when describing why the tshad ma rnam 'grel is tshig le'ur byas pa, the Seventh Karmapa says, "yi ge brgyad pa rjes bsngags pa'i sdeb sbyor gyi bye brag kha sgo phan pa zhes bya ba'i tshigs su bcad pa yod pas tshig le'ur byas pa'o."