Sunday, August 10, 2008

HHDL's recent comment on studying Tibetan

If any of you all were in Madison you might remember this. During the Q/A one day, someone asked His Holiness about studying Tibetan. He advised him/her "not to waste one's time", that "there were plenty of good English translations." This seemed to contrast with so many other times I've heard him or other lamas emphasize the value of studying the Tibetan language, so the next day I got a question through: (not exact words) "Your Holiness, with due respect, the other day you advised someone that studying Tibetan might not be his/her best use of time. Is it not also true that studying Tibetan helps preserve the language and the culture, and enhance one's understanding of the teachings? His answer, again, not a perfect quote: "Certainly if the first questioner was Tibetan, then of course, you must learn to read and write Tibetan. If the questioner is a westerner, then it depends. For the serious and more scholarly dharma student, then yes, especially if the student is interested in learning from the Nalanda tradition. Though there are many good translations available, even in Chinese, it is my opinion that the Tibetan translations are far superior, and it would be of great benefit to the dharma student to study these in the Tibetan language."

I was glad I asked, glad he answered, too-I know that for myself, after over 3 decades of dharma study, since I've been studying Tibetan, I think and feel like the teachings are unveiling to me in a much more holographic, dimensional way, even though my brain is a brick at times.  A big special thanks to David  for being such a fun, knowledgeable, and systematic teacher. I'm really loving his teaching style. 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hi everyone -

i slept through the first class on The 37, and last night I called the "missed class" recording. It is great to have that resource. Many thanks to Erin for setting it up. And to state the obvious, I encourage everyone to remember it's there.

The previous post got me thinking about how English does not have a "sacred language" that could be used for translation purposes. Someone once told me that since the texts were in Sanskrit originally and Tibetans recite them in Tibetan, it is the same thing for us to recite them in English since that is our language. I don't think that's true. My understanding is that much care was taken to create a "sacred" Tibetan specifically for the translation of the texts. And the sounds are important.

I think English is necessary at first for us to understand the words and the gist of things, but there's more to it. Anyone?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Something hit home

Speaking of idioms... there was a moment in class when David rephrased and explained the context of the verse of praise...the paradox...that something hit the same time it's not something that could be written down....but kinda like feeling the truth of the it applies to me right now...

The Dalai Lama did encourage us to do liturgical practices in English if one does not understand Tibetan and doesn't feel moved by reciting in a foreign language...
Khandro Rinpoche had often said that reading the Tibetan has intrinsic value because of the transmission of the enlightened mind...
Both are true....paradox

But somehow I have a sense that I could have read the english translation 101 times over on my own and never would have got the essence of what was conveyed in the praise...
At the very least...that is dawning on me....something hit home...

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Welcome to the new group blog for the 37 Practices Virtual course! We hope this will serve as a great forum for you to help each other study, share and compare notes or get notes from missed classes. David may also contribute, as his schedule allows. This is a fun way for you all to extend your class experience and create a virtual community together. Enjoy!

Erin Keskeny
TLI Office