Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

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Do You Practice in English (or Other Primary Language)?

or
6
9%
b) Tibetan
18
28%
c) both my primary language and Tibetan
40
62%
d) a language I made up
1
2%
 
Total votes : 65

Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:52 pm

It seems like people in this thread were talking about two different things. The first is someone who does not read or comprehend Tibetan chanting along with phoneticized Tibetan (or any Asian Dharma language), versus reading a text in translated English. The second is someone who can read the actual Tibetan to one degree or another doing the practice from a Tibetan-only text, versus in English.

When you don't know how to read any Tibetan, it may make sense to do the practice in English. When I was in that boat, I sometimes did, but most of the time I read the phonetics aloud while looking at the English translation for meaning.

As soon as you know the Tibetan alphabet and a some liturgical words, then the English translation starts to be a distraction because you start using your intellectual mind to evaluate the translator's choice of vocabulary. We learn something intellectually from that, but learning is not practice.

So, I read my personal practices in Tibetan now, and I've penciled in some vocab clarifications for words I don't know. If I was a translator myself, I could feel comfortable with English. I've heard that Richard Barron does his practices in English. My own translations would not be a distraction for me.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:13 pm

Once I am familiar with a practice I do it in Tibetan. When I start a new practice the first few times I do it in English, but then switch to Tibetan. Tibetan usually sounds much nicer, and because it is such a concise language when it comes to dharma I feel it is more efficient. After all, literary Tibetan was developed for the sole purpose of transmitting the dharma.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:41 pm

I'm a noob; just putting that out there.

I've been reading the FPMT Daily Prayers pamphlet in the mornings for a little while now.
I usually read it in English, do prostrations chanting the Pali (Buddham saranam gacchami, etc), and do most mantras in Sanskrit or a close Tibetan version.

Downloaded the FPMT Essential Prayers mp3s and can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time.
It gets especially tough when the Tibetan audio doesn't seem to follow the transliteration in the Daily Prayer pamphlet.
Going to have to wait for the actual Essential Prayer book to finally arrive, to see if it will be possible to learn how to follow along.

It's tough. The only 2 languages I'm really comfortable in are English & Japanese.
Chanting only sounds good in English if it's done Gregorian style; no offense to those who've made serious efforts to make it work.
Not sure why, but I haven't felt any particular connection to the local flavors of Japanese Buddhism.
Pali's not too bad, with the transliterations out there & Sri Lankan or Thai audio.
Sanskrit pronunciations can get a bit tough, but with good audio to follow along with, not so bad.
So far, it's easier to follow along with my Lao Theravadan coach using a Pali chanting book than it is to follow along with the Tibetan prayers on the mp3s.
If I stick with Tibetan Buddhism, I hope that changes.
One of the big attractions for me with Tibetan Buddhism is the copious amount of English literature available on almost any topic.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby lobster » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:52 pm

Sanskrit if possible, Tibetan if not. The english versions with resonant sonic depth, are not yet available in my experience. They require considerable more work . . .
m m m . . . Gregorian chant . . . I do vary pitch, speed etc from what I have been taught, according to some internal obligation . . . whatever works . . . Latin translation would not work for me. Pali not my choice but when in Rome . . . :twothumbsup:

:popcorn:
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:15 am

lobster wrote:Sanskrit if possible, Tibetan if not. The english versions with resonant sonic depth, are not yet available in my experience. They require considerable more work . . .
m m m . . . Gregorian chant . . . I do vary pitch, speed etc from what I have been taught, according to some internal obligation . . . whatever works . . . Latin translation would not work for me. Pali not my choice but when in Rome . . . :twothumbsup:


Good point on Gregorian chants mostly being in Latin.
I do have a Gregorian version of the Lord's Prayer in English.
I really would like to see some better sounding English chants.
I wish I had any musical talent whatsoever.
Would be nice if one of those Hollywood-types could pull that off.

My favorite chants to listen to are definitely:
Heart Sutra in Chinese
Sri Lankans chanting the Vandana in Pali
I have a killer version of Lama Tsong Khapa (Migtsema)
Khenpo Pema Chopel Rinpoche's cd of mantras
The song version of Om Mani Padme Hung that you hear often (found it on a mix cd of other spiritual tracks).
Theravada Song
Buddhist Mantra (Heart Sutra) Ji Project
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:25 am

It would be wonderful to do some practices that were initially written in English by an authentic wisdom lineage-holding lama fluent in English. Kalu Yangsi has expressed an interest in this. I can't remember whether some of Trungpa Rinpoche's termas were like that.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby sebastians » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:58 pm

Yudron wrote:It would be wonderful to do some practices that were initially written in English by an authentic wisdom lineage-holding lama fluent in English. Kalu Yangsi has expressed an interest in this. I can't remember whether some of Trungpa Rinpoche's termas were like that.



I'm not so sure. When perfect, enlightened Lama will write a practice in English there will be question of translating it into other languages. We rather need some common rules of translating technical terms from tibetan to Spanish, Greek Russian ect. When Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and others siddhas and panditas had come to Tibet they never asked tibetan people to learn or read dharma practices in Sanskrit. Today it looks so different isn't it? The present situation reminds me medieval Europe with latin liturgy in church, but we have 21 century. I think we slowly becoming ready to have 99% perfect translations in our languages and trust them.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:52 pm

sebastians wrote:
Yudron wrote:It would be wonderful to do some practices that were initially written in English by an authentic wisdom lineage-holding lama fluent in English. Kalu Yangsi has expressed an interest in this. I can't remember whether some of Trungpa Rinpoche's termas were like that.



I'm not so sure. When perfect, enlightened Lama will write a practice in English there will be question of translating it into other languages. We rather need some common rules of translating technical terms from tibetan to Spanish, Greek Russian ect. When Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and others siddhas and panditas had come to Tibet they never asked tibetan people to learn or read dharma practices in Sanskrit. Today it looks so different isn't it? The present situation reminds me medieval Europe with latin liturgy in church, but we have 21 century. I think we slowly becoming ready to have 99% perfect translations in our languages and trust them.


I've heard the written Tibetan language was created to transmit the Dharma. It is thus a Dharma language from the beginning, is this not true?
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby sebastians » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:25 pm

Yudron wrote:
sebastians wrote:
Yudron wrote:It would be wonderful to do some practices that were initially written in English by an authentic wisdom lineage-holding lama fluent in English. Kalu Yangsi has expressed an interest in this. I can't remember whether some of Trungpa Rinpoche's termas were like that.



I'm not so sure. When perfect, enlightened Lama will write a practice in English there will be question of translating it into other languages. We rather need some common rules of translating technical terms from tibetan to Spanish, Greek Russian ect. When Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and others siddhas and panditas had come to Tibet they never asked tibetan people to learn or read dharma practices in Sanskrit. Today it looks so different isn't it? The present situation reminds me medieval Europe with latin liturgy in church, but we have 21 century. I think we slowly becoming ready to have 99% perfect translations in our languages and trust them.


I've heard the written Tibetan language was created to transmit the Dharma. It is thus a Dharma language from the beginning, is this not true?


Written Tibetan character was based on Sanskrit alphabet indeed, but tibetan language existed before Thonmi Sambhota, furthermore Tibetan is not the same language group as Sansrkit at all. Chinese alphabet was not created to Dharma it was not problem to translate Dharma into it. Indian panditas considered devanagari as language of Gods still they insisted to translated dharma in other languages, probably because it was Buddha Sakyamuni idea to allow practicing the Dharma to everyone and everywhere :smile:
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby sebastians » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:30 pm

This is what Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche said about this topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N2xwVvF ... ults_video
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Tom » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:32 pm

Yudron wrote:
sebastians wrote:
Yudron wrote:It would be wonderful to do some practices that were initially written in English by an authentic wisdom lineage-holding lama fluent in English. Kalu Yangsi has expressed an interest in this. I can't remember whether some of Trungpa Rinpoche's termas were like that.



I'm not so sure. When perfect, enlightened Lama will write a practice in English there will be question of translating it into other languages. We rather need some common rules of translating technical terms from tibetan to Spanish, Greek Russian ect. When Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and others siddhas and panditas had come to Tibet they never asked tibetan people to learn or read dharma practices in Sanskrit. Today it looks so different isn't it? The present situation reminds me medieval Europe with latin liturgy in church, but we have 21 century. I think we slowly becoming ready to have 99% perfect translations in our languages and trust them.


I've heard the written Tibetan language was created to transmit the Dharma. It is thus a Dharma language from the beginning, is this not true?


Many Lama's says this, but from memory I think it was some of Kurtis Schaeffer's work that seems to demonstrate that the Tibetan writing system was used before the arrival of Buddhism to Tibet.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:28 am

I use all English except mantras and the seven line prayer. We use Tibetan in group practice with my Sangha. Our lama has recommended this method so that you know the meaning of the words when you recite the Tibetan with the group.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Sherlock » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:04 am

I think Yudron is referring to the actual grammar and syntax of literary Tibetan being created (or at least being bent towards) for translation of Dharma texts. The script itself was created before mass translation of Buddhist texts began, but the literary language used for translation seems to have been quite far removed from the actual colloquial language at the time, and made to conform to Sanskrit/other Indic languages' grammar. If you're familiar with Bible translations, maybe the Gothic gospels are a good example.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:22 am

Sherlock wrote:I think Yudron is referring to the actual grammar and syntax of literary Tibetan being created (or at least being bent towards) for translation of Dharma texts. The script itself was created before mass translation of Buddhist texts began, but the literary language used for translation seems to have been quite far removed from the actual colloquial language at the time, and made to conform to Sanskrit/other Indic languages' grammar. If you're familiar with Bible translations, maybe the Gothic gospels are a good example.


I like it when other people make me look more knowledgeable than I actually am. :smile:
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Tom » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:37 pm

Yudron wrote:
Sherlock wrote:I think Yudron is referring to the actual grammar and syntax of literary Tibetan being created (or at least being bent towards) for translation of Dharma texts. The script itself was created before mass translation of Buddhist texts began, but the literary language used for translation seems to have been quite far removed from the actual colloquial language at the time, and made to conform to Sanskrit/other Indic languages' grammar. If you're familiar with Bible translations, maybe the Gothic gospels are a good example.


I like it when other people make me look more knowledgeable than I actually am. :smile:


Yes, no doubt the huge translation efforts shaped the Tibetan literary language, especially with the development of a specialized vocab and also you see it for example in the way the Sanskrit pre-fixes are incorporated into the Tibetan written language.

However, Sanskrit grammar seems to be a complex word system away from Tibetan grammar! I am not doubting you are right and am interested to know a little more how much the grammar was influenced and how. If you can shed a little more light on this it would be great.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby sebastians » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:58 pm

For me this is not the case of grammar system. Tibetan translations in many examples are interpretations not literally translations, for example tib. word Sangye is not sanskrit Buddha, jang chub sem is not literally bodhicitta ect. Moreover Tibetans translated in their language everything, even "nomina propria" so they almost forget oryginal sanskrit names. When Tibetan pilgrims came to India they asked where is dorje dan and did not undarstand why Indian people don't understand what is it. This is example for total absorbion of sanskrit terms. I think Indian panditas and siddhas was very open minded to help understand "foreign barbarians" the Dharma. Contemporary tibetan Lamas are much more careful and I don't know it is good or bad :-)
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby sebastians » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:05 pm

tomamundsen wrote:I use all English except mantras and the seven line prayer. We use Tibetan in group practice with my Sangha. Our lama has recommended this method so that you know the meaning of the words when you recite the Tibetan with the group.


I do the same system, Could you reveal who is your Lama?
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:16 am

The classical story goes that Thonmi Sambota created the Tibetan Alphabet in the 7th century http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thonmi_Sambhota. If that's literally true, it is a designed alphabet and grammar based on the preexisting spoken language of Tibet at the time, and adapted Indian scripts, for the main purpose of bringing the Dharma to Tibet. Sort of like the beautiful design of like Washington, D.C. was imagined by LaFayette where there was only swampland.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:57 am

sebastians wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:I use all English except mantras and the seven line prayer. We use Tibetan in group practice with my Sangha. Our lama has recommended this method so that you know the meaning of the words when you recite the Tibetan with the group.


I do the same system, Could you reveal who is your Lama?

Khenpo Sonam. He's awesome! A very, very dedicated practitioner. I would recommend meeting him (once he's back in the country) if you are ever in the LA area.
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Re: Poll: Do You Practice in English or Tibetan?

Postby Yudron » Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:21 am

Khenpo Sonam used to live at our dharma center for many years and I'm quite fond of him.
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