Rinpoche used Heidegger's method to deconstruct English to pre-Socratic Greek in this paper.
The personified spirit (daimona) of truth and
sincerity. Contained within the etymology of the word Aletheia is
“lethe” meaning “forgetfulness”, “oblivion”. Aletheia (ἀλήθεια) is a Greek word variously translated as “unclosedness”, “unconcealedness”, “disclosure” or “truth”.
Professor Guenther suggested that
Rinpoche continue to deepen his exploration of the Parmenides Proem’s experientially based interlingual
communication to assist in generating this important two-way translation scholarship in order to benefit both western and
Tibetan speaking Buddhist practitioners, especially those following the Dzogchen marga.
The past 47 years of Vajrayana practice (the last 29 years as a Lama) have given me some valuable insights into certain problematic areas in the methods of transmitting the Buddha Dharma in the West. One of the main problems is translating Sanskrit and Tibetan experiential Dharma terminology into useful English. For example, the translation of the Sanskrit shunyata and its equivalent in Tibetan, tongpa-nyid as emptiness and void for the last 250 in the West ( The western philosopher Hegel understood the translation in this manner from Wilhelm von Humboldt and Diderot) has little merit and has created much confusion for Western practitioners. There are two basic Tibetan approaches to Vajrayana Buddhism. One is the rangtong method of conceptually examining all arguments relating the substantiality of one's body, mind, and all internal/external reality. Traditionally this was the path of scholar/meditators (usually monastics) who lived in controlled monastic environments and who were constantly under the supervision of one or more realized Masters of this approach to realizing the true nature of the Mind by continual conceptual examination until the experience of the Mind's true nature is a living reality.. Since we in the West are not monastically oriented societies, this approach has and will continue to create serious problems for the majority of practitioners who manifest lay lifestyles that use conceptual thinking as a survival tool in the increasingly complicated and hectic contemporary environment.. The shentong approach is based on the student being introduced to or receiving pointing out instructions to the true nature of the Mind as an experientially based practice. Minimal conceptual examination via the process of dialectical argumentation or debate is utilized as a skillful means to realization of the nature of Mind. Although, as evidenced in all Buddhist traditions one cannot describe the true nature of the Mind with concepts, words may be used to point towards or open the student to the experiential reality of Enlightened Mind, which the student has never been separated from, that is, the true nature of Mind is ever- present (experientially) as the intrinsic non-substantial nature of all sentient beings. For the above reasons I strongly believe that we must trace the roots of philosophical and religious English terminology to the ancient Greek (Homeric and pre- Socratic). These forms of ancient Greek are based on Sanskrit and did not maintain a mind/body or subject/object dualism. My initial 1995 translation of Parmenides’ (the illustrious Greek philosopher of the 6th century BCE) Proem from ancient Greek to Tibetan and English demonstrates that Parmenides had a view of reality very similar to the Vajrayana Buddhists. My initial etymological investigations have substantiated parallel meanings between many ancient Greek words and Tibetan correlates. The innovative Western 20th century philosopher and thinker, Martin Heidegger, opened my eyes to this method of translating experiential realities through investigating the etymological and philological roots of English’s philosophical/religious terminology. Professor Herbert Guenther, fluent in Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan (amongst a panoply of other languages), Buddhist texts - especially Dzogchen and Mahamudra - utilized Heideger’s methodologies. I communicated with many Western contemporary eminent scholars and translators of Buddhist texts (including sublime Tibetan Lamas') and they are open to this approach and have encouraged my research. In western Philosophy a re-examination of the whole tradition is being stimulated by Heidegger and others in the schools of Phenomenology, Postmodernism, Deconstruction, and Hermeneutics. Hermeneutic theories of interpretation are pervading all the social and physical sciences (theoretical and applied). I have also utilized this approach in teaching Western and Comparative philosophy and Religion at American Universities and Colleges. I have written this introduction based on this experiential hermeneutic approach to translating the view and method of Tibetan Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhism for my fellow Western travelers on the Bodhisattva Marga (path).
The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the starting point and procedures in translating the Greek text of 'Parmenides' fragment 1 (Alethea Proem) into liturgical Tibetan. This 1997 paper was originally part of Rinpoche's Masters studies at CSULB in Philosophy as an independent study. In March 2015, Rinpoche was invited to present this paper at the 17th Annual Society of Phenomenology and Media in San Diego, California.
Lawrence M. Spiro, PhD and former Director of the East-West Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies said this of Rinpoche's paper,
"This could well become a good model for those translating from TIbetan into English, insofar as it is shows good insight into, and an experiential understanding of, the phenomenology and hermeneutics of translations theory."
Lama Anam Thubten Rinpoche - Vimalikirti's Throne
We are looking at a person or persons who would be interested in translating English to Tibetan, English to Spanish, and Spanish to Tibetan. We are developing a methodology for interlingual translations. We will then progress to translating short excerpts from Western philosophers and theologians such as works like Heraclitus’ fragment 12, “You cannot step twice in the same rivers,” Plato’s “Khora,” Aristotle’s hypokeimenon, David Hume's “on religion,” and Martin Heidegger’s “thinking the beginning.”
In the heart cave of the Lama’s Mind
the mighty Mahasukha river flows
trees are kindly bent to ease us
but water at the roots is the greatest gift of all
Written on the August Full Moon 1990
H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Pilgrimage
Ngakchang Karma Yeshe Namgyal Dorje
Rinpoche's own translation
Lama Anam Thubten Rinpoche's translation