Translation Course with Erik Pema Kunsang

Lhasey Lotsawa is delighted to share with you news of a translation course with our lineage’s senior translator, Erik Pema Kunsang. The goal of this course is to transmit the knowledge and experience gathered by Erik Pema Kunsang serving over 40 years as a translator for Kyapjé Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his sons to our Lhasey Lotsawa team.

Phakchok Rinpoche recently joined our initial meeting in which Erik touched upon some of the key points of translation, including the importance of developing a sense of kindness and compassion. The meeting centered around the topic of chanting and reciting our daily prayers and practices in our own native languages, beginning with English. Here Erik stressed the importance of transforming our current translations into metered verse, so that they can be melodiously chanted in English and other languages, and thus be more easily felt deep within the heart.

Inspired by Erik’s advice, the Lhasey Lotsawa team has begun taking steps in this direction, transforming the Barché Lamsel prayer into metered English (a sample of which you can find below). Under Erik’s guidance Lhasey Lotsawa will be further exploring meter translation, an important, though sometimes overlooked, step of the translation of the Dharma from Tibetan to other languages.

Our Lhasey Lotsawa team will keep you posted about the advice that Erik shares with us in the coming meetings. While our initial meeting included only a few members of our translation team, the coming meetings, yet to be confirmed, will include all our translators into the various languages.

Barchey Lamsel
We pray to Dharmakaya Amitabha boundless light
Pray to Sambhogakaya Great Compassion most divine
Pray to Nirmanakaya Padma, born from lotus flow’r
Embodied as our Guru, with a form that does amaze
You took birth and you trained in noble land of India,
Arrived and tamed the demons midst the land of great Tibet,
Stayed and helped the beings in the land of Uddiyan
With compassion may you bless us all
With kindness may you forge our path
With wisdom may you siddhis grant
With power may you clear our blocks
May outer blocks be cleared outside
May inner blocks be cleared inside
May hidden blocks be cleared within
We pay you homage, seek refuge
Om ah hung benza guru padma siddhi hung

This verse rendition of the Barche Lamsel prayer is a provisional translation and we are sharing it so that our readers can come to understand how we begin to craft a polished translation. We look forward to sharing more with you in the future!

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.