Best Language to Learn First?

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.
wisdom
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Best Language to Learn First?

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:23 pm

What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?

Malcolm
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Malcolm » Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:26 pm

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?



Tibetan.
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen

wisdom
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby wisdom » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:09 pm

Thanks!

Thug4lyfe
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:30 pm

Image
Image

Terma
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Terma » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:13 pm

Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma

dakini_boi
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby dakini_boi » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:30 pm

Terma wrote:Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma


There's an excellent Tibetan-English, English-Tibetan dictionary for the iphone. It's FREE. You can look up full words and individual syllables too. Honestly, it would be worth investing in an Ipod touch just to be able to use this dictionary - it's actually a compilation of several Tibetan-English dictionaries that would probably cost hundreds of dollars to buy in book form. Maybe available for other smart phones too, I don't know. The only thing is, you need to know how to read Tibetan to use it. But that's not too hard to learn.

As far as a word list - what I do is take sadhanas that I practice or would like to practice, and I read through them to find the important words. I try to figure out which Tibetan word goes with which English word, using the dictionary as necessary. I'm finding that now when I see new practices, I'm familiar with more words.

conebeckham
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby conebeckham » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:37 pm

http://www.tibetanlanguage.org/Study_Aids/freestudyaids.html

If you know the popular Chenrezig practice based on Thangtong Gyalpo's Droden KaKhyabma, this should be right up your alley:

http://www.snowlionpub.com/html/product_9254.html
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.

Huifeng
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Huifeng » Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:45 am

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?


Sanskrit. Because the Chinese and Tibetan translations are from Sanskrit (or something very similar).
With Sanskrit, it will be easier to go to the others.

Depends on what you mean by "Buddhist texts": Sutra, sastra, vinaya ... commentary ... ??

~~ Huifeng

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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Kare » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:07 am

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?


If you are interested in Buddhist texts, I would recommend that you try to get as close to the source as possible. That would make Pali the logical first choice. And Pali is very close to Sanskrit, so once you know one of those, you can easily expand into the other one, and get access to a wide range of both Mahayana and Non-Mahayana literature.
Kåre A. Lie

Astus
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:10 am

Chinese has the largest number of Buddhist texts (including tantras and modern translations). Sanskrit only has fragments and incomplete canons. So I think the question is whether you want to be a scholar-linguist or just want to read and study texts.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)

Jnana
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Jnana » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:17 am

wisdom wrote:What is the best language to learn first, Tibetan or Sanskrit? Which language have the bulk of most Buddhist texts been written in? Especially the Mahayana tradition?

If you're primarily practicing in the Indo-Tibetan tradition it's better to learn Tibetan. This gives you access to the entire Tibetan Canon as well as the vast commentarial & liturgical literature written by Tibetans in Tibetan over the past 1000+ years.

dakini_boi
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:42 pm

Also, I think the Dzogchen literature is exclusively in Tibetan. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe there are no surviving Sanskrit Dzogchen texts (someone please confirm this, or correct me if I'm wrong!). So if your interest is Dzogchen, Tibetan would be best.

Thug4lyfe
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:12 pm

It's probably also easier to learn Chinese since those slitty eye homeboys are everywhere!!! You certainly wouldn't have trouble finding teachers and sources.
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Astus
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Astus » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:30 pm

Food_Eatah wrote:It's probably also easier to learn Chinese since those slitty eye homeboys are everywhere!!! You certainly wouldn't have trouble finding teachers and sources.


Modern Mandarin/Cantonese/etc. are not the same as literary Chinese (the language of the majority of Buddhist texts) and there is also the matter of Buddhist terminology. Similarly, spoken Tibetan is not the same as the language of the sutras and tantras.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)

Paul
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Re: Best Language to Learn First?

Postby Paul » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:23 pm

dakini_boi wrote:
Terma wrote:Can someone help lead to a good resource (book or web) for learning at least some of the key Tibetan words that come up in the different liturgies and teachings frequently? The one on Berzin's site is quite good, but I have not learned Wylie yet. maybe it is time, but if there was a more simple approach... (is there ever?lol)

To go a little deeper, I would also like to learn the meanings of the individual syllables that make up a word (eg. "ye-she") The explanations for the few words that I have learned have been quite helpful, as I think just a straight translation into one English word does not always do it justice.


Always more to learn...

Terma


There's an excellent Tibetan-English, English-Tibetan dictionary for the iphone. It's FREE. You can look up full words and individual syllables too. Honestly, it would be worth investing in an Ipod touch just to be able to use this dictionary - it's actually a compilation of several Tibetan-English dictionaries that would probably cost hundreds of dollars to buy in book form. Maybe available for other smart phones too, I don't know. The only thing is, you need to know how to read Tibetan to use it. But that's not too hard to learn.

As far as a word list - what I do is take sadhanas that I practice or would like to practice, and I read through them to find the important words. I try to figure out which Tibetan word goes with which English word, using the dictionary as necessary. I'm finding that now when I see new practices, I'm familiar with more words.


Wow! That's a great app - thanks for letting us know about it!


As for websites, the Rangjung Yeshe wiki is indespensible: http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Main_Page
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal


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