Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

A place for discussion of current events. Buddhist news would be particularly appreciated.

Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:54 am

http://emptyelephant.wordpress.com/2010 ... i-plaques/

SUMMARY (The Cold Facts, and the Main Point):

Lillian Too used my translation of the Mahashri Sutra to sell plaques for $96 each. She did not ask my permission, offer me any compensation, or credit me as translator, even though she knew knew me personally. After I exposed her illegal and unethical use of my translation for her business, she refused to communicate with me.

Lillian and I had a previous translation deal lasting for about two months, which Lillian had ended suddenly, angrily, and seemingly irrationally, and she did not really give me provide me with good reasons as to why she was ending the project. Then, she actually asked for the money back that I had already worked for. During the time I was working on the project, she insisted on paying a very minimal price and was basically very cheap (especially for a multi-millionaire), was very demanding in general, and worst of all was very dishonest in her true intentions of having me translate one of the Zungdus or “Compendiums of Dharanis” — it was solely so that she could make money by using the mantras and sutras for profit, selling Feng Shui items by marketing the Buddha Dharma.

For those of who you don’t know Lillian, she is a multi-millionaire, quite famous Feng Shui master and author.

When I asked her about the Mahashri Sutra Plaques, she said that Lama Zopa Rinpoche had given it to her years ago. This was not true, as it was obviously my translation. Lama Zopa’s was nothing like the plaque. She had written me emails talking about my translation of the Mahashri Sutra specifically in the past, and it was actually one of the reasons that she originally wanted me to work for her. She was quite taken with my translation of the Mahashri Sutra (obviously). There is a not a speck of doubt that it is my translation.

After this, I never received another response from her personally again, and her company was not helpful either. Her company actually wrote to me and said that the use of the work did not violate copyright law (which it does), and basically said that they didn’t owe me anything, not even an apology, or a promise not to do it again — later as I found out, because she still had intentions to use my work — she is still selling keychains that presumably have my translation of the Mahashri Sutra in them (using a different name for the same sutra)!

Lillian later removed the Mahashri Sutra Plaque from her online website. There was some information that the item had been retracted completely, although this has never been completely verified. Again, I have received no information about the item from Lillian or her company, not even a notice about the status of the item.

Thus, Lillian did indirectly admit to using my translation, both through 1) taking the product offline (and presumably discontinuing it) after I exposed it, and 2) through her company’s response that their use of it “did not violate copyright law”.

Since the original writing of this article, I have since attempted over email to apologize to Lillian Too for my part in whatever led her to these actions. I have assured her that I have no big agenda here, other than a thoughtful and fair reponse to my very valid concerns.

At the very least, I need a letter from her company stating that they will not use my intellectual property in the future. Of course, compensation would also be good and appropriate.

If there is anyone out there who knows Lillian personally, or gets the chance to meet her, I urge you to ask her about this issue. I have had no success in my communications with her, her company, or any of her associates. You can also email her at lillianlpk@gmail.com.

What baffles me is Lillian’s refusal to address the issue. She has already basically admitted to doing it, so why not give me the courtesy of an apology, promise to not do it again, and maybe even some fair compensation? Or perhaps even work out a business deal that could benefit both of us?

I truly think that my concerns are real, valid, and transcend any narrow grasping at my own translation work. These issues are very real and of concern to everyone.

In particular, I think that this is a case of translators needing to be made more aware, and to stand up for their rights.

What’s the most sad about this whole issue, beyond having anything to do with me, is that there are influential Buddhists out there who think it is acceptable to do these kinds of things to Dharma translators.

It’s a sad microcosm of the overall attitude of a lot of people, who have no real appreciation for the immense work that translators do, and feel it is their right to utilize the work of translators while showing no respect or sensitivity to their legal and moral rights to their work, even to the point of making hundreds of thousands of dollars off their work without even offering them a single cent or crediting them as translator.

O You Translators (and artists and writers of all kinds) out there — be careful who you work with, and try to protect your work!

Erick Sherab Zangpo

PS In response to some of the negative responses I have received over this article… it is not my intention to harm Lillian Too. If you think deeply about this issue, I feel that you will see that it is the right thing to do to continue to spread the message about this. As I mentioned above, this has to do with much more than just me. It is a matter of ethics and principles that apply to everyone. I will gladly drop the whole thing and take down this article the moment that Lillian Too resolves this issue in a normal fashion. I feel it is actually the compassionate thing to do for Lillian Too’s sake as well — keeping this article up until she acts responsibly for her own actions.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:21 am

Legalities aside, in Buddhist principle you can't own the rights to a sutra translation.

You should be happy that the sutra translation is widely available and people are reading it. That's the point of scriptures, isn't it?
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:41 am

I disagree.

In today's modern world, any translation done is protected by law. The Buddha also stated that one should respect the laws of the land.

I do understand that there is a cultural difference here, especially in Chinese culture, which has traditionally not given Buddhist translators much credit or money, because 1) the translators were/are usually monks who are not supposed to be working anyway, and 2) because the sutra translations are usually done for free distributions or directly for a Buddhist publication society. The situation is different with translators who come from other cultures.

I do not think that the translators of the Tang dynasty would have been very happy to see their translations of the Mahayana sutras being used to sell products, without their permission or offering any recognition or compensation.

My translation was and is also provided for free distribution on my website. However, it is also protected by copyright, which means that if it is going to be re-published in any form, and especially if it is going to be used for commercial sale, then it is protected by law. Moreover, if you are going to use someone else's work for your own profit, it is in Buddhist terms unethical not to ask them their permission or to not give them at least some compensation. The point is that she should have asked to use the translation, and worked out a deal with me that was fair.

The fact that she did nothing to reconcile my concerns to me reveals that her intentions were not to spread the Dharma but to make money.

The intent of my making the translation available online was to spread the sutra, not so someone could use my translation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You may argue that Lillian Too is spreading the Dharma. I say, Sure, but spreading it in the WRONG WAY -- a way which shows no respect towards Dharma translators. In my view, any merit that she is making by "spreading the Dharma" is canceled out by the fact that she is treating the source of her business with no compassion.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:18 am

sherabzangpo wrote:I disagree.

In today's modern world, any translation done is protected by law. The Buddha also stated that one should respect the laws of the land.


Like I said...

"Legalities aside, in Buddhist principle you can't own the rights to a sutra translation."

I understand the law recognizes copyright protection laws of translations of holy scriptures.

However, from a Buddhist perspective in principle I would argue that nobody can own the rights to a sutra translation. They might exist in worldly law, but that doesn't mean much to me.

Thus if somebody distributes copies of sutra or other Buddhist works online for free it is indeed a meritorious deed.

Even if somebody is selling your work and making a profit off of it, then they're still distributing a dharma text.

I do understand that there is a cultural difference here, especially in Chinese culture, which has traditionally not given Buddhist translators much credit or money, because 1) the translators were/are usually monks who are not supposed to be working anyway, and 2) because the sutra translations are usually done for free distributions or directly for a Buddhist publication society. The situation is different with translators who come from other cultures.


Oh well, you're dealing with a buisness person and not a religious organization. Cut your losses already. The amount of time you spend complaining about this could be spent working on another translation.


I do not think that the translators of the Tang dynasty would have been very happy to see their translations of the Mahayana sutras being used to sell products, without their permission or offering any recognition or compensation.


Scriptures were bought and sold in the marketplace. Not until the Song Dynasty with the development of largescale woodblock printing industries did any kind of copyright ideas exist in Chinese civilization. I won't speculate in great detail how the Tang dynasty translators would have felt, but I can imagine they wouldn't have made a big deal over it.


My translation was and is also provided for free distribution on my website. However, it is also protected by copyright, which means that if it is going to be re-published in any form, and especially if it is going to be used for commercial sale, then it is protected by law. Moreover, if you are going to use someone else's work for your own profit, it is in Buddhist terms unethical not to ask them their permission or to not give them at least some compensation. The point is that she should have asked to use the translation, and worked out a deal with me that was fair.


Well, what do you expect when you put it online for free? Once something is on the net it is fair game for anyone to take. You should expect this to happen. Few people respect intellectual property rights (I personally don't recognize their existence because I don't believe you can own abstract ideas).


The fact that she did nothing to reconcile my concerns to me reveals that her intentions were not to spread the Dharma but to make money.

The intent of my making the translation available online was to spread the sutra, not so someone could use my translation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Would you be complaining if she cut you half of the profit? You'd probably be quite pleased with a six digit cheque in hand.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby muni » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:58 am

There must be altruistic motivation with respect in understanding.
muni
 
Posts: 2735
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:35 pm

Huseng wrote:
sherabzangpo wrote:I disagree.

In today's modern world, any translation done is protected by law. The Buddha also stated that one should respect the laws of the land.


Like I said...

"Legalities aside, in Buddhist principle you can't own the rights to a sutra translation."

I understand the law recognizes copyright protection laws of translations of holy scriptures.

However, from a Buddhist perspective in principle I would argue that nobody can own the rights to a sutra translation. They might exist in worldly law, but that doesn't mean much to me.

Thus if somebody distributes copies of sutra or other Buddhist works online for free it is indeed a meritorious deed.

Even if somebody is selling your work and making a profit off of it, then they're still distributing a dharma text.


I don't think that the legal and the Buddhist perspectives are as separate as you think. The legal side is to cover people's rights. If people's rights are not being respected, then it's not Buddhist and not in line in the with Dharma. However, I do totally see what you're saying, and I can easily see how many people could feel this way. However, I also think that most translators these days feel differently. I think it's a complex issue; it's certainly not on the side of the translator has total and complete rights and control, but it's certainly not on the side of anyone can do whatever the hell they want with a translator's work just because it happens to be a Buddhist/spiritual work.

I simply don't agree with you on this point of selling someone else's work and making a profit off of it is also somehow a meritorious deed.

The point here is that there is a important dynamic going on in terms of control, for the sake of the purity and authenticity of the translation and scripture itself. The translator should be consulted first before any serious distribution of his work (meaning any kind of publishing). This is also not just for the sake of the translator, but for the sake of the translation itself! That was actually the case with this Mahashri Sutra thing. Had I known that it was going to be distributed on a much different level and format, I would have edited the translation and made corrections. I would have double-checked so that people weren't praying to a plaque that wasn't what I thought was the perfect translation.

Thus, in a way I feel like it has even more to do with respect to the translation and scriptures themselves, and to the spirit that the translation was offered in. An obvious side note is that I offered this scripture in generosity, and was disrespected and taken advantage. The way I see it, the Mahashri Sutra was also disrespected and taken advantage of.

I do understand that there is a cultural difference here, especially in Chinese culture, which has traditionally not given Buddhist translators much credit or money, because 1) the translators were/are usually monks who are not supposed to be working anyway, and 2) because the sutra translations are usually done for free distributions or directly for a Buddhist publication society. The situation is different with translators who come from other cultures.

Oh well, you're dealing with a buisness person and not a religious organization. Cut your losses already. The amount of time you spend complaining about this could be spent working on another translation.


The sutra was not done for the sake of Lillian Too's business enterprises. It was meant as a text for free distribution to help others. I shouldn't have had to be dealing with a business person at all.. the point is that my permission was not asked, and this violated my own boundaries as well as the integrity of the text.

However I think you're right in that it's not something to worry about for my own sake -- however I personally feel that this is an important issue that goes beyond just me.


I do not think that the translators of the Tang dynasty would have been very happy to see their translations of the Mahayana sutras being used to sell products, without their permission or offering any recognition or compensation.

Scriptures were bought and sold in the marketplace. Not until the Song Dynasty with the development of largescale woodblock printing industries did any kind of copyright ideas exist in Chinese civilization. I won't speculate in great detail how the Tang dynasty translators would have felt, but I can imagine they wouldn't have made a big deal over it.


I think they may have made a big deal about it if they felt that the person who was producing such items was behaving unethically and with disregard for both the scripture itself as well as the translator. Being disrespectful and behaving unethically to the translator is, in a sense, being disrespectful to the entire transmission of the text. I think it calls a lot of ethical questions into issue. But that's not really here nor there. Basically the publication of a scripture in such a mass-produced way as plaques requires that some thought and consideration be put into it, just for example making sure everything is correct in the scripture. I also feel that in today's world, both legally and conventionally, the translator/author should be asked first.


My translation was and is also provided for free distribution on my website. However, it is also protected by copyright, which means that if it is going to be re-published in any form, and especially if it is going to be used for commercial sale, then it is protected by law. Moreover, if you are going to use someone else's work for your own profit, it is in Buddhist terms unethical not to ask them their permission or to not give them at least some compensation. The point is that she should have asked to use the translation, and worked out a deal with me that was fair.


Well, what do you expect when you put it online for free? Once something is on the net it is fair game for anyone to take. You should expect this to happen. Few people respect intellectual property rights (I personally don't recognize their existence because I don't believe you can own abstract ideas).


I am guessing you are probably not someone who creates intellectual property, or at least not that other people could take advantage of you for. A translation or any other written work is not just an abstract idea. It's a set of words, set down on paper or on the internet. You could argue that no one can own anything, since in the Buddhist sense everything can be seen as an abstract idea. Where do you draw the line? I'm not totally sure, but I will tell you that billions of people around the world cannot afford to agree with you.

I disagree that "few people" respect intellectual property rights. Most people, I would say, respect them enough that they will at least consider the author of a given work enough to ask their permission if they plan on using their work for some kind of publication or business. If they are not aware of the author, that's a different story, but Lillian was more than aware of my existence, she actually pretty much knew me personally. I would say Lillian's conduct was far below average, especially within Buddhist circles.

The fact that she did nothing to reconcile my concerns to me reveals that her intentions were not to spread the Dharma but to make money.

The intent of my making the translation available online was to spread the sutra, not so someone could use my translation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Would you be complaining if she cut you half of the profit? You'd probably be quite pleased with a six digit cheque in hand.


You missed the point entirely here. I think that there is something in the story that you don't understand, or some principle that you are not seeing.

Would I be complaning if she cut me half the profit? No, that's the point. She should have consulted me, got my blessing, had me review the work, offered me a fair monetary compensation, credited me as translator, and that's it. I am not complaining, per se, about people making money off the Dharma, but making money off the Dharma AND disrespecting the translator and the translation and the scripture.
Last edited by sherabzangpo on Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:57 pm

So, am I happy that people are reciting the Mahashri Sutra from Lillian Too's plaque, and thus accumulating merit and generating the causes for wealth?

Well, honestly, yes and no. I also worry for those people. I do believe that some teachers would explain that they may actually share in the karma of stealing. Even just owning one of the Mahashri Sutra Plaques could be construed as accruing negative karma.

I am not really sure about all of that. But I think that when an action such as producing expensive items with Buddhist scriptures on them is going to be undertaken, it should be taken seriously and with as much care and respect as possible. This is far from what Lillian did, which was actually basically screw the translator of the text over (possibly partly out of revenge over a failed translation deal), showed no respect to the translator, gave him no credit or compensation, and thus also showed no care or concern about the integrity of the text and its transmission and accuracy, or the original intent and labor of the translator.

Seems like a bad karmic ball to get rolling, huh? Especially when it's involving Buddhist scriptures for profit?

So, as for the how I feel about the idea of Mahashri Sutra Plaques in general: Sure, it's not a bad idea and even a good one. As for how it was done -- two thumbs down.

Generally speaking, yes, the distribution of Buddhist texts is a good thing. However this was a very unusual case, where disrespect to the rights, work, and intent of the translator as well as to the integrity and spirit of the text took place. I feel that basically Lillian Too broke the sanctity of the sutra itself. This is just my feeling.

I don't really expect to get much out of Lillian Too -- however I don't think it's totally in vain to keep people informed about the issue. In my view, what she did, the way that she did it, was stealing of one sort or another. And another level, the negativity of what she did increases hundreds-fold given that it was a Dharma work.

And yet, who knows how she saw it? It's obvious that not everyone immediately perceives it as being so negatively. Again, there is definitely some cultural issues at play here also, especially in the interaction with the Chinese/Tibetan Buddhist world and the Western/Tibetan Buddhist world. I hope that this issue will help other people in the future and stimulate thought about the subject, which, as we have seen, is complex and yet important.

I learned my lessons from the issue, and it was actually overall probably a very important and necessary experience for me. It's unfortunate that someone could be as cruel as Lillian Too has been to me, but it's also a good lesson in the great care that must taken in the work of translation.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:24 am

It's unfortunate that someone could be as cruel as Lillian Too has been to me, but it's also a good lesson in the great care that must taken in the work of translation.


You make it sound like she sent people to come break your legs.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5563
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby mudra » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:47 am

Sherap Zangpo-la

Not to take sides here, but I tend to agree with Huseng here on the issue of ownership. These are after all the Buddha's words, and they have been translated and quoted for centuries.

I think it only correct to mention here that I also do dharma translation work, oral and written, into Indonesian from English and French. I know this is not the same caliber as what you are doing, but it is still translation. As there are many terms that don't exist in Indonesian, and having tried to keep it simple and not just use Sanskrit or Pali words that are beyond the ken of the average listener/reader, I have over the last 20 odd years coined a few usages. I should also add here that often I did so in consultation with my Lamas. Many of these phrases and terms are now used by younger translators, and it gives me some sense that all those years scrambling around for terms was at least was useful for others. I think this is the attitude we have to take. It is about spreading the dharma. And I am sure that all translators consult other works or perhaps their teachers, when they get stuck.

Also don't forget that translations are forever changing, mostly improving.

However, having said that, there are two separate issues here. One is that this person promised you payment and defaulted, the other is that there is not even any common courtesy. I think that is lamentable, and understand your feelings. There has definitely been a breach of trust.

Unfortunately I think you will be stonewalled forever, and perhaps it might be better to move on and perhaps accept it as a karmic result? (please I mean this with the best of intentions). Otherwise you will be carrying this bitterness and missing out on precious time to do other good work which you do for sentient beings' sake. Maybe in time it will sort itself out.

Best

M
User avatar
mudra
 
Posts: 453
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:55 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:39 am

Haha, break my legs?

Alright, now you're just being mean and condescending. I appreciate your views but I don't need to be talked to like this.

I set out my views very much from the heart, and you have just taken an adversarial position, and don't seem to have listened to anything I've said. I hate it when people act like how you are acting in forums. Check yourself. Seriously.

Yes, Lillian Too was rather cruel to not respond to my concerns about how illegal and unethical use of my work. It was, in my opinion, cruel. But whatever. End of discussion, man from Tokyo, unless you want to have a mutually respectful discussion about this further. You had a lot of good points but, as so often in Buddhist forums, you don't really want to have a discussion, you want to...[you fill in the blank]?

To some extent I think it's just a somewhat immediately irreconcilable disagreement. I don't want to spend hours trying to convince you or other people why Dharma translators have rights to their work. In my mind, it should be obvious.

If you really think that, "from the Buddhist perspective", Dharma translators don't have hardly any rights to their work, and rich businesspeople can do whatever the hell they want with poor Dharma translators work which probably nobody pays them for anyway, that's your opinion and I feel sorry for you for, for you are in my mind contributing to a worse world. I don't really want to argue that point much; for me it's far beyond obvious.

But anyway, aside from that, if there's anything you think needs to be said and is worthy and possibly beneficial go ahead. But I don't need snide remarks, nor does anybody else. Enough damage has been done already. :jedi:
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby muni » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:48 am

Even some use works for worldly wealth, is there gratefulness by many. Thank you.
muni
 
Posts: 2735
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:53 pm

Besides this legal argument about copyright how can the money be any problem? This Mahashri Sutra says, "If anyone should recite this three times, they will be victorious over all disharmonious circumstances. They will become endowed with excellent fortune. They will become endowed with not knowing the exhaustion of wealth." So I guess the translator must have gained a lot more than that. Never exhausting wealth, that could certainly compensate for this trouble with a "stolen" translation.

So, since I'd happily donate millions of dollars to thousands of monasteries, translator groups and charity services, I repeat the mantra three times, just as the Buddha said in the Mahashri Sutra.

SYADYATHEDANA JINIGRINI SARVA ARTHA SADHANI SHASHINA ALAGA SHIMANA NASHAYA SIDDHANATU MANTRA PADEY SVAHA / OM BIGUNI BARAMASU BHAGE SVAHA

SYADYATHEDANA JINIGRINI SARVA ARTHA SADHANI SHASHINA ALAGA SHIMANA NASHAYA SIDDHANATU MANTRA PADEY SVAHA / OM BIGUNI BARAMASU BHAGE SVAHA

SYADYATHEDANA JINIGRINI SARVA ARTHA SADHANI SHASHINA ALAGA SHIMANA NASHAYA SIDDHANATU MANTRA PADEY SVAHA / OM BIGUNI BARAMASU BHAGE SVAHA
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4126
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:58 pm

Man From Tokyo (and others) -- despite our disagreements about the subtleties of translation ownership and whatnot, I want to point out a few things:

1) I think your main point seems to be that it may not be best to make a big deal about it, that there are better things that I could be spending my time on, and that it's definitely not worth giving rise to disturbing emotions about. In this regard, I agree with you, and I think that is an excellent point that I appreciate.

2) With that said, I do feel that it's important that people continue to know about the issue, even though I know that I probably won't get much out of it personally. I see it as an ethical issue, and as something that could quite possibly prepare and protect other people in the future from similar mishaps, as well as increase the awareness of other points such as translators' legal rights and so on. I also think it's important that, even if Lillian Too does stonewall me forever, that other people continue to bring up the issue to her in person, on occasion. I think it's something that she needs to think about, too, for her own future welfare.

3) It would have been nice if you or someone else would have addressed the points that I brought up in my last post, which were that Lillian Too did more than just a disservice to me, but in my opinion also violated the integrity, intention, spirit, etc. of the original text itself. I think that this is something that is often missed by most people because they don't understand the translation process etc. very well. Basically, legal stuff aside (which is still in my mind very important in today's world, but anyway), it is MUCH MUCH more ideal if any publication or serious reproduction can get the translator's blessing and approval, not only for the sake of the translator but for the sake of the text itself. People even ask me for permission just to put things online. That's the way it should be. It's a matter of integrity and principles and especially in regards to respecting the nature of the text as much as possible.

4) If anyone has any suggestions about the way my article is presented, then please feel free to comment.

5) I learned a lot myself about a few things, namely, the importance of being a careful and vigilant about trying to protect your work, the importance of being careful with you work for (looking back, there were signs beforehand that Lillian Too was capable and interested in doing something like this, and had I known better and researched her more I would have taken more caution), and the importance of being careful about posting translations on the internet.

6) Actually since translating the Mahashri Sutra in general I have had an easier time with my finances, and so I think it worked. :namaste:
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:52 pm

Dear Eric,

I wish you know further disturbing events and may you have peace in mind and be a prosperous translator for the benefit of us all.

My take on translations and publication of Dharma texts is the following. People working with a translation, including correctors, editors, sellers, etc. put their time and energy into it, therefore if it is viewed as work there should be a due wage. But I doubt that there are many who learn dead languages and an alien religion to produce translations that will never make it even to the top thousand list of best sellers, consequently there is not much money in it. It seems to me that those who make translations are either monks or scholars or they do it as non-professionals, like a hobby. Still, if I want to get a book I don't expect it to be for free. On the other hand I don't expect it to be 50, 100, 200 or even more USD.

Lewis Lancaster in his speech on Buddhism in a Global Age of Technology said the reason why he gives his works available online and why others should follow (because they're already paid by the university and through that the state).

Personally, I don't think there are many who could even make a living by translating Buddhist texts. Then why not make it also available freely online? And if people copy it, all the better. While I understand the concern of big companies losing money because people do copy their products copying sutras is actually something advised by the sutras themselves as a meritorious act. And the sutras said that before people came up with the idea of copyright. Everybody has the right to copy the words of the Buddha! And it is not just a right but a practice, even a duty.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4126
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby Heruka » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:08 am

priest caste follow the power over minds, the trick that all are born sick, and only they, the gatekeepers can make you well.

lol,,,,



if we are connected to the solution, we are also connected to the problem. the sutra teachings of cause and effect are indeed the lesson to learn when we are not free of cause and effect.

the cycle of problem, reaction, solution is not escapable.
Heruka
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:34 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:08 am

I am not arguing that generally speaking copying sutras and distributing them for free is a meritorious act. Of course, even in that case it's probably best if you get the consent of the translator, especially if it is going to be a major large-scale copying.

However this is not what Lillian Too did.

I think there are different issues going on here.

1) Copying a translation for and distributing it for free is very different from copying a translation and selling it, in any form.

2) Yet again, it seems that I must say it: copying a translation of a sutra and using it to sell products without asking the permission of the translator, crediting the translator, or offering the translator any compensation (especially if you know the translator is alive and in a poor financial situation, as Lillian Too definitely did), is illegal, unethical, and disrespectful both to the legal and creative rights of the translator AND is disrespectful to the text itself.

I have already gone over why it is disrespectful to the translator. Why is it disrespectful to the text itself? Because if a translation of a Mahayana Buddhist sutra is going to be stuck on plaques and sold for an exorbitant rate in the thousands, that translation deserves to be given the consent of the translator for such a major business undertaking, and more importantly the translation deserves to be edited, refined, and finalized, and reviewed with Buddhist scholars.

Also, the translator must always be credited. Even in all of the old Tibetan translations from Sanskrit, the translator is still credited even today in modern publications.

One could claim that Lillian Too may have just had an ignorance to the nature of translation, but I think it has more to do with a very strong indifference. I don't think that this is a point that can be simply glanced over. If Lillian Too was interested in genuine merit-making, she would know that the text needed care and love and respect. This she did not show. Why? Because she wanted to make a quick buck, and also probably to take revenge on me for things not going the way she wanted with our previous translation deal.

I have to admit that its disturbing that Lillian Too's highly unethical actions are being construed by some as merit-making. I am not denying that there may be some positive benefit in her actions, in which I rejoice, but I feel that the negative here far outweighs the positive. I think that this may be a failure on my part to explain the story well, as there also seems to be a lot of confusion. Or maybe people just aren't reading it very well. In any case, I feel that this is a good opportunity to clarify our thoughts.

3) Other than Lillian Too's presumably taking revenge on me, our previous translation deal had nothing to do with her misusing my translation of the Mahashri Sutra. I translated the sutra many months before I had anything to do with her, and it was not one of the texts that I translated for her. I did not pay her back the hard-earned money that she demanded from me at the termination of our translation project. There seemed to be some confusion around this so I thought I should clear that up.

4) I can tell you right now that 99 percent of Tibetan Buddhist translators out there would be very upset at this kind of event. Most translators think the Dharma should be free and widely distributed. Most translators also think that actions like Lillian Too's are about as low as you can go in the translation world, and would be highly disturbed if anyone abused their translations in this way. Again it comes down more to the spirit of the text and the translation itself. That spirit is desecrated when someone like Lillian Too sees the Dharma only as dollar signs and the translator as a casualty of business, not even worthy of common courtesy.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby sherabzangpo » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:09 am

Just in case you missed the link to the article, here it is again:

http://emptyelephant.wordpress.com/2010 ... i-plaques/

Let me know if you have any suggestions for editing, additions, etc.
sherabzangpo
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:14 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby muni » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:38 am

Court of justice of peace? Madame Too and you can maybe find a solution when mind is focussed on those who get the mantra to recite. Of course, easy said.

As Dharma teaching is so very precious I had big eyes when I looked at internet where the use of texts were in affliction, specially aggression toward each other in many misunderstandings. I thought: "Oh, this is the downfall of Buddhism."

I was translating (smoothly gibberish style), when it was finished, after lots of work to do it correctly, it wasn't needful anymore.

Then correct doing or not correct doing are having equal home.
muni
 
Posts: 2735
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby mudra » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:57 am

Sherapzangpo-la,

Aside from the aspect of the Buddha's words should be made available as much as possible, and the fact that selling dharma texts etc just for personal profit is very negative karma:

1. If she promised to pay and didn't, if she didn't allow for you to finalise and correct, this is quite negative indeed. But how you deal with that is also tricky, so be careful of your motivation (not wanting to preach this but just as a dharma friend)

2. Yes translators should be appreciated. The term Lotsawa itself is indicative (Eye of the World). And indeed as you point out in most colophons of Tibetan texts they were always mentioned. But as you know one important reason why they were mentioned is so that people could established the credibility of the translation.

3. As to the financial recompense etc for Lotsawas, in the Tibetan tradition they have always made incredible sacrifices but many have of course also enjoyed great sponsorship. Remember how King Jangchub Ö told Nagtso Lotsawa that basically if he didn't go down to India to invite Jowo Atisha he would be countermanding the King's order=death sentence. Or the incredible travels of Rinchen-Zangpo, Marpa Lotsawa etc.
These days translators have no fixed formulas, some are sponsored by centers and organizations, some just struggle on by themselves. Some just do other work for money - but it cuts in a lot into one's precious time.

4. Finally, once again, Lillian Too will just have to deal with her own karmic results. You could cut your losses and accept what has happened as a karmic clean out. The best you can do is make it clear to her that what she has done is incorrect, and move on.
Why chose this course when you feel it is necessary to correct an evil?
Look at the options: A court case for example would be one avenue, but do you want that whole ugly process with someone who has far greater resources than you, and dealing with it all in an environment where most people are even more indifferent to the dharma than she, if that is possible?
Or a campaign to spread the news, possibly ending up in a position where you will be sued for defamation (from what you have describe do this person, if true, that would not be out of the question)? It is a question of uncontrollable escalation, when the things like this unravel they do so suddenly and rapidly as various other negative karmic potentials get activated by our emotions.
So perhaps weigh out whether you can really control the situation if you press on or not
before any further action. You have done what you can so far, you have pointed out her mistake.
And also: perhaps when you get involved with deals like this in the first place you should be a bit more discriminating.


With best wishes that you may resolve this well.

M
User avatar
mudra
 
Posts: 453
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:55 am

Re: Lillian Too's Mahashri Sutra Atrocities

Postby catmoon » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:10 am

I am at a loss to explain how this thread benefits anyone, or even how it could appear beneficial.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
User avatar
catmoon
Former staff member
 
Posts: 2916
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: British Columbia

Next

Return to News & Current Events

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Sherlock and 4 guests

>