Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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?


Tim Walton said...

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

Marcus Perman said...

I originally posted this in the hopes that people would say something about the "hearing" translation. I know that in many of the translations used by Nalanda Bodhi and also from Nalanda Translation Committee "hearing" is used and it seems that because all of us reading it have drank the cool-aid we don't even notice that it sounds silly to an outsider. However, I also think that discussing the translation of sgom is interesting so I will make a new post for that now.