Notes from the Cave: ‘Jigs med gling pa on buddha-nature


‘Jigs med gling pa (1730-1798) was a key figure in the development of late-period Great Perfection thought in Tibet. His major philosophical work, the Treasury of Precious Qualities (Yon tan rin po che’i mdzod), was much-studied in the years after its composition in 1789. The Treasury’s presentation of Great Perfection ontology is grounded (if you will) in buddha-nature. Perhaps more interestingly, much of ‘Jigs med gling pa’s debate with interlocutors about Great Perfection revolves around buddha-nature rather than Great Perfection per se. ‘Jigs med gling pa was also deeply skeptical about the possibility of expressing anything of value about buddha-nature, […]

Notes from the Cave: ‘Jigs med gling pa on buddha-nature2019-09-27T02:46:33-06:00

The State of the Field


Kurtis Schaeffer (University of Virginia) begins a reflective conversation about the State of the Field of Tibetan translation by acknowledging Janet Gyatso’s book Apparitions of the Self (1998). Kurtis notes that the work has fueled discussion about embodied engagement with literature that takes form and style in literature seriously. Since its release, it has inspired workshops and served as the basis of other significant work on the impact of thought, philosophy, and devotion on literary production.

The two scholars continue by contextualizing a major theme of current translation work: the fact that we can now focus on Tibetan literature as […]

The State of the Field2019-01-09T04:49:56-07:00

Collections of Songs (mgur ‘bum)


By taking a bird’s-eye view of collections of songs (mgur ‘bum), Kurtis Schaeffer (University of Virginia) and Andrew Quintman (Wesleyan) examine gaps in our knowledge based on the extant collections and their experiences both as translators and as historians of literature. They elicit an exploratory discussion by beginning with a series of key questions and positing ways in which we can think about songs as an autonomous literary form as well as how we might approach the provenance of songs and the process of their production and reproduction from the standpoint of history, in addition to other stimulating topics. What […]

Collections of Songs (mgur ‘bum)2019-01-17T10:34:10-07:00

Lotsawa Translation Workshop Closing Remarks


In this short session, Dominique Townsend (Bard), Holly Gayley (University of Colorado, Boulder), Marcus Perman (Tsadra Foundation), Janet Gyatso (Harvard), Kurtis Schaeffer (UVa) and Lama Jabb (Oxford) offer their gratitude and brief reflections to responders, participants, and sponsors. Four participants of the workshop share their impressions of the weekend including having developed a deeper understanding of what is at stake in, and the challenges of, the practice of translation, and the importance of one’s disposition as an ambassador of a text’s content and context. Overall, attendees expressed appreciation of the collaborative process and how the community of translators of Tibetan […]

Lotsawa Translation Workshop Closing Remarks2019-01-04T05:41:32-07:00

Translating: What and How?


On the second day of the conference, the nuts and bolts of the craft of translation became the focus and the main questions asked in this session were: What tools are in your translation workshop? What skills should one cultivate to be a good translator? How do we cultivate those skills? Elizabeth Napper begins the session by looking at the perennial issue of literal vs. aesthetic translation from a practical standpoint of needing to adjust to the intended audience of the translation. Thupten Jinpa continues this discussion of the tension between fidelity to the text and consideration of the reader […]

Translating: What and How?2019-01-05T23:54:03-07:00

Kavya in Tibet


Kavya in Tibet is a session following from a workshop on Tseten Zhabdrung’s commentary on poetics (Snyan ngag spyi don) that was hosted at the Latse Library with Gendun Rabsel, Nicole Willock, Andy Quintman, and Kurtis Schaeffer. The Tibetan system of poetics and ornate poetry is highly influential in the history of Tibetan writing and is based on the most important Indian manual of poetics, Daṇḍin’s Mirror of Poetics (Kāvyādarśa). This session introduced some of the fundamental theory and practice of this snyan ngag type of literature. The intellectual gravity of snyan ngag did not make itself felt until 1267 […]

Kavya in Tibet2019-01-05T23:54:04-07:00

Translating Biographical and Historical Materials


This workshop addresses the motivation and practical considerations of translating historical and biographical works. Amelia Hall talks about her experience with the construction and translation of a namtar (Wyl. rnam thar, hagiography) and the idiosyncrasies of balancing the needs of the academy and the world of spiritual practitioners as it relates to such a genre. Kurtis Schaeffer walks us through the practical decisions he made while producing a translation of an eighteenth century text to keep his specific audience inspired and engaged. Dan Martin offers a perspective about dating texts in an historical context using available resources.

Translating Biographical and Historical Materials2019-01-05T23:53:10-07:00