First post and སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་

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On Translation Theory and Pure Vision

As a Buddhist, constructing a theory of translation is precarious task. Paradoxically, words are both the Dharma itself, and conceptual signifiers that are fundamentally incapable of dualistically encapsulating the Dharma. How to come to terms with this? Don’t take myself, or words, so seriously. (Plus, as a tantrika, I guess I sort of love [or hate?] paradoxes). More on this later (See: “Lies”).

So, to set things off with pure intention and pure view, I offer a translation of Terdak Lingpa’s (Tib.གཏེར་བདག་གླིང་པ་) famous last words.

Terdak Lingpa established the famous Mindroling Monastery in 1676 and was a speech emanation of Vairotsana Lotsawa.

Read more at http://mindrolling.org/.

སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་

Nang Drag Rig Sum

སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་ལྷ་སྔགས་ཆོས་སྐུའི་ངང། །
NANG DRAG RIG SUM LHA NGA NGAG CHÖ KU’I NANG

Sights, sounds, and awareness are deity, mantra, and the continuity of Dharmakaya,

སྐུ་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་རོལ་པར་འབྱམས་ཀླས་པ ། ། (པས་) (པར་)
KU DANG YE SHÉ ROL PAR JAM LÉ PA|

Unfolding infinitely as the play of form and wisdom.

ཟབ་གསང་རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཆེན་པོའི་ཉམས་ལེན་པ ། ། (ལ་)
T’HAB SANG NAL JOR CHEN PO’I NYAM LEN PA|

(In) the practice of the profound and secret Mahayoga,

དབྱེར་མེད་ཐུགས་ཀྱི་ཐིག་ལེར་རོ་གཅིག་ཤོག། །
YER MÉ T’HUG KYI T’HIG LER RO CHIG SHOG|

May (all) be unified as one taste at mind’s apogee.

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.

2 thoughts on “First post and སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been interested in reading final words as a genre. Please let me know if you are familiar with other final words.

    As for the translation, borrowing your words, how about this?

    The state where appearances, sounds, and awareness are deities, mantra, and wisdom
    Is the infinite unfolding of the play between the kayas and wisdoms;
    May the practitioner of such profound, secret Mahayoga
    Become of one taste with the indivisible heart bindu.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tashi delek Lowell-la,

      Indeed, there is so much to unpack in the Tibetan tradition of final words or colophones. One of my favorites can be found on the reverse side of this Machig Labdron/Chod refuge tree:

      http://www.himalayanart.org/items/223

      It’s not exactly a colophone–it’s on the reverse of a thangka and and not at the end of a text, but it is among my all-time favorite examples of combining tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation with serious Dharma significance.

      It reads:
      zhes pa’ang ‘jigs med rdo rje’i dad rten bris sku’i rgyab byang du gcod smyon yan pa blo bde’am ‘jigs bral ye shes rdo rjes lag bris su btab nye rab tu gnas par bgyis pa mthong ba don ldan gyi rgyud gyur cig/

      In particular, I’m referring to:
      gcod smyon yan pa blo bde’am ‘jigs bral ye shes rdo rjes

      So goooooooood!

      ——

      Now, to respond to your comment on the translation. I should start by saying that the Nang Drag Rig Sum prayer has been translated countless times, and as a practitioner (following the content of the prayer itself), I rejoice in the fact that any engagement with the prayer is beneficial. Therefore, in an attempt to uphold the pure view advocated by the prayer, I do not wish to take (in the standard academic fashion) any intellectual stance on the semantics.

      However, since we both know where the other is coming from, I would be honored to engage in a relativistic discussion of the translation with a scholar and translator as articulate as yourself.

      In essence, I think that our translations are near identical (as you said, you were borrowing my diction for the sake of conversation). You have artfully rendered the last two lines into a description of the practitioner melding into one taste with the dharmadatu, whereas I chose a more cyclopedic description of phenomena melting into one taste via mahayoga.

      Indeed, I would happily substitute any piece of my translation for yours–except ONE thing. In the first line, you translated “ngang” as “in the state of,” which is perfectly understandable. However, from a practice point of view, I feel this translation is a bit misleading.

      At least in the lineages I am familiar with, the Nang Drag Rig Sum prayer is recited between meditation sessions. In other words, it’s the armor of “pure view” that we consciously don before stepping out of the shrine room and into the big bad world. In this way, I would interpret the prayer to be reminding us that ALL phenomena are pure phenomena. And therefore, to say “in the state where all phenomena are pure” (paraphrasing) seems to be a bit too dualistic, as I understand the point to be that there is no state OTHER than that in which all phenomena are pure. Therefore, I chose the word “continuity” because it has the double meaning of both ‘continuity as a state’ (like Dan Martin’s definition of “ngang,” which is similar to yours) and “continuity as something that continues.” Just as the continuity of dharmakaya is unbroken even in nirmanakaya, so to does the practitioner maintain the continuity of “pure view” practice even after leaving the shrine room.

      But what the fuck do I know? Hahaha. Nothing.

      Keep dancing yogi.

      Mangalam.

      Like

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