Just imagine how a person devoted his whole life to studying Tibetan, mastering the language, and then commenced his [life-long] translation work. Why did Venerable Fa-zun want to do translations? That is to benefit the Chinese so that we can understand Tibetan Buddhism; he put in so much hard work in translating! Now the venerables in our monastery are also doing translations. It is definitely a strenuous process; and not exaggerating at all to describe it as “turning every drop of painstaking effort into words” - Global Lamrim 2, Lecture 0011
BW Monastery 吉祥宝聚寺 — Lecture No. 0011
The Buddhadharma was written in either Pali or Sanskrit. But we could now read Buddhadharma in our native language. Great masters like Venerable Fa-zun, who translated the Chinese Lamrim and many scriptures that were missing in the Chinese lineage, travelled to Tibet to learn the lineage.
What are some of the challenges and hardships faced by translators when they translate Buddhadharma? How will this in turn, benefit us?
It was initially hard for me to understand the challenges faced by translators as I was just thinking at a superficial level that it is a matter of changing the words from one language to another. And with modern technology (e.g. Google Translator) easily available, this task didn’t seem that daunting.
However, when I contemplated further, I saw that the translation process goes much deeper. The translators will need to be versed in the Teachings, have accumulated great merits in their practice and carry a pure motivation to ensure the translated work does not lose or change the essence of the original text.
Much gratitude to these selfless translators who have made it possible for people like us to overcome the language barrier so as to practice the Teachings from Buddha.
Challenges faced could be during travelling to another country to learn the lineage before they could understand the teachings, especially in the historical times, travelling was either by foot or via ship, which is not as comfortable as the times now. There could be culture differences and the translators have to get used to the food there, they could be homesick.
When think of these hardships, it makes me appreciate the teachings more and very grateful for the translators. We can also learn peserverance from the translators whom many are great dharma masters, and their compassion to put the purpose of benefitting others with the teachings before themselves.
Without learning Teachings and deep contemplation, we will not appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by the translators.
We will not know the translation committee took more than 10 years to complete the three volumes. From agreeing a list of technical terminology (which is itself a monumental task), to arranging the text and outline, to abbreviation used when citing a text, to discussion the interpretation of difficult passages with contemporary scholars.
If not for them, I will not be able to overcome the language barrier, and missed the opportunity to learn the Teachings from the Buddha again.