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The Lotus Sutra 法華經 (英文版)

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Title: 

The Lotus Sutra of Wondrous Dharma (English

 妙法蓮華經 (英文版)

Category:

類別:

Holy Scripture: 佛經

The Major Buddhist Canon (6)

法海譯叢(6)

Total pages: 頁數:

About 814 pages 約814頁

English Translator:

譯者:

Venerable Cheng Kuan

釋成觀法師

Publication-

Initiators:

倡印者:

Maha-Vairocana Temple (Taiwan) 大毘盧寺(台灣)

Americana Buddhist Temple (USA) 遍照寺(美國)

Printing House:

承印者:

Sunrise Printing Co., Ltd.

東豪印刷事業有限公司

Edition:

版次:

First Edition, 2014 (Hard Cover)

2014年初版,敬印一千冊(精裝)

ISBN: 國際書碼:

978-986-89833-1-1

Way of Circulation:

流通方式:

Not for sale. Free of charge.

(You pay shipping cost only)

非賣品,贈閱(郵費自付)

Availability:

結緣庫存:

In stock

尚有存書,歡迎索請

Place of Free Distribution:

贈閱處:

Maha-Vairocana Temple (Taiwan) 大毘盧寺(台灣)

Americana Buddhist Temple (USA) 遍照寺(美國)

How to get a free copy: 索取辦法:

By writing a request-letter

1.書信; 2.電話;或 3.郵撥

Preface of the Book: 本書簡介:

Please see below.

 

 

The EnglishTranslator's Preface

for The Lotus Sutra

Ever since I aspired to translate Buddhist Scriptures into English, I have already published The Diamond Sutra (2005), The Heart Sutra (2005), The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters (2005), The Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (2005), The Sutra of Consummate Enlightenment (2009), and The Sutra of Terra-Treasure Pusa (2011), six of them in all at that time.  Now that I am going to have this Lotus Sutra published, as this is a significant stage in the area of translation for me, and perhaps a consequential furtherance in the sphere of translation in general as well, I feel it apposite for me to write a preface to recount some of my experience, mental orbiting, pragmatic acquisitions, and personal deliberations regarding Buddhist Scripture translation so as, first of all, to leave some vestiges respecting the endeavors in this enterprise as a translator with a view to furnishing some helping reference for others to come;  and, secondly, maybe to incite some aspiration and encouragement for future fellow-aspirers.

 

I. The Most Significant Theme of The Sutra of Dharmic Lotus—the One Buddha-Yana

The Sutra of Dharmic Lotus, as very well acknowledge, is the Vertebrate of Mahayana Buddhism.  Why is it so?  Because what is divulged therein is the marrow of the most crucial integrating motif in all Mahayana Buddhism:  i.e., “the One Buddha-Yana,” also called “the One-Yana of Dharmic Lotus.”  What then is “the One Buddha-Yana”?  It is just what the Buddha has divulged in this Sutra:  The Dharmas divulged by all the Buddhas is solely meant for One Buddha-Yana, neither two nor three;  that is, specifically, neither the Human-Celestial Five Yanas, nor the Auricularist Yana, nor the Causality-enlightenist Yana, nor even the Mahayana of Expedient Teachings is the real ultimate purpose of Buddha’s Teachings—for all of these arose simply due to the Buddha’s compassion, in view that the Multibeings’ Causal Factors had not yet reached maturity;  under such circumstances the Buddha proceeded to divulge various expedient Dharmic Portals to avail Multibeings of the way for Fumigation, eradicating impediments, and growing and developing Virtuous Radices.  And only after the maturity of Virtuous Radices, can one be truthfully aspired for the pursuit of Buddha Bodhi, so as to cultivate on Bodhi sincerely, to seek solely after Buddhahood, without seeking after anything else, nor seeking after any other Dharma, nor any other Yana, nor yet any other Fruitions.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that the Multibeings have been aberrant and confused about their own Mind, insofar that they could not consciously apprehend that the Original Font of their Mind has always stayed pristine, always been endowed with Buddha Nature, hence it is not only that they are entitled to attaining Bodhi, but that they ought to attain Bodhi—The Buddha said in The Lotus Sutra: “All of ye shall become Buddhas!”  For this reason, one should never ill-use oneself!  That is exactly why the Buddhas would emerge in the afflicted worlds to divulge the Thus-Adventists’ Comprehension and Perception that “All Multibeings are to become Buddhas ultimately”;  hence only the One Buddha-Yana is truthful and ultimate;  as for other Yanas and other Dharmic Portals, those are all tentative expediencies, non-ultimate Metamorphosed Citadels.  Therefore it behooves one to comply with the Ultimate Tenet, and ought not to follow the Non-ultimate Tenet;  otherwise one would be degenerated into Transmigration purposelessly, only to suffer from myriad afflictions meaninglessly.  However, if one could but comply with the Ultimate Tenet, by dint of the one pure straight mind, to proceed directly toward the Ambience of the Supreme Ultimate Tenet, one is bound to reach Bodhi expeditiously, thereby to acquire Apprehension directly for the attainment of Buddhahood, devoid of any tortuous circumvention or detaining procrastinations, not to mention being subjected to arduous industry in vain.

This is precisely the purport of the One Buddha-Yana:  Anyone who hears of this should be triumphantly joyful for himself on this account:  “Now that I am able to be exposed to such great Dharma, I have ample hope to become Buddha!  And this is a great bliss to me for myriads of Kalpas;  hence, it behooves me to work sedulously, so as to advance toward the Treasure Site of the Thus-Adventist;  thus, by the empowerment of the Buddha and my own Virtuous Radices, as prognosticated by the Buddha that I may ‘acquire the Dharmic Corpus without having to go through asamkhyas of Kalpas,’  and by dint of the empowerment of the Buddhas, I shall be enlightened spontaneously to attain Buddhahood and become the King of Treasures;  henceforward never again shall I degenerate myself into the Penta-Yanas, or the Tri-Yanas, or the Duo-Yanas, nor even into the inane Common Plebeian and the Six Frequentations.  Hence, only this ‘One Yana’ can enable me to attain the Corpus of Treasure-King expeditiously.”  And this is the Grand Theme of “the One Yana of the Dharmic Lotus.”

 

II. How I Aspired to Translate The Sutra of Dharmic Lotus

I applied and obtained scholarship from three graduate schools in the U.S. in 1979;  as a result I selected the Fellowship offered by TCU (Texas Christian University), by which I was going to be exempted from all the payments of tuition and fees, and, what is more, I was not required to work.  And so I went to the U.S. to study English literature in September, 1979.  I finished with the course credits in 1981 and began to prepare for writing the paper.  In the meantime, I took courses of French, German and Latin at North Texas University, to get ready for  the requisite of a doctorate degree (in America the doctorate degree in English literature usually requires three foreign languages—but English, Chinese and Japanese are not accepted—and all of them should be three years of undergraduate credits).

At this juncture, due to the change of the situation in American national economic, the policy of education regarding finances was subjected to great impacts and adjustments.  Consequently, in the first place, all University Fellows were required to work in the departments.  Later on there was another alteration:  the financial aids offered to all the students who had finished the courses and were working on their papers were entirely revoked.  As a result of this change, I could not but start to work part-time on campus.  Later on, I switched to restaurants off-campus for more work hours and more wages.

Under the gigantic pressure from both study and living, I was taken ill with hyperthyroidism.  Now divested of scholarship, and without a job, and what was worse, I had very scanty savings from which I needed to pay the rent for the apartment and the tuitions (taking courses in languages and writing the degree paper all carry credit hours and so necessitate registration and paying for the tuitions and fees).  At this juncture, my situation was widely different from that when I first arrived in the States:  I seemed to have been precipitated right from the heaven down to the deep abyss, feeling deeply anguished and totally at a loss about the unpredictable future.  This has led me to be profoundly confirmed about what the Buddha said: “Life is tormenting.”

In order to get more income, besides working part-time in the restaurant, I took a second job working as a Columnist and the Special Correspondent for The Houston Chinese Commerce News.  Owing to such circumstances, I made acquaintance with a girl named Yue-guei Shi who also came from Taiwan to the States to study rehabilitation medicine.  She loaned me some Buddhist books, into which I seriously plunged myself to study.  Some of the books were of introductory level, and some of them were Sutras, such as The Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. Although I had been exposed to some Buddha Dharma previously, and had read some books on Buddhism, such as The Outline on Ch’an Buddhism by Professor Chi-jun Jang, and An Outline on Buddhism by Reverend Dao Duen.  I had also learned to recite The Heart Sutra, but at that time, and for a long period after that, I usually studied Buddhism as a “Philosophy.” (This is because I had aspired to become a “philosopher” since my high school days.)  And so it was not until the year 1981 that I truly started to learn Buddha Dharma as a Way of Practice per se.

Thus during that time I went to attend the language classes at North Texas State University every morning (I acquired straight A’s for all the three courses in French, German and Latin);  in the afternoon I went to work until evening;  at night after making preparations for the writing of the paper, I would sit with my legs crossed to read Buddhist books or Sutras.  Due to the lack of reading materials and infos at that time (although I had asked someone to purchase three big cases of Buddhist books from Taiwan, they were still on the way to reach me), most of the books that I read pertained to Hinayana.  In the midst of the books that I read there was one entitled What the Buddha Taught by Reverend Rahura, a master in Sri Lanka, which had enormous influence on me.  The original writing was in English, but what I read was a Chinese translation.  As an alien in a foreign country, worsened by the stress of study and work, life had become hypertensive for me, and so I was deeply impacted by the anguish of life.  In consequence I was very eager to seek a way of deliverance or liberation;  under such circumstances, I exerted myself very earnestly in learning the Liberation Way of Hinayana (and this might as well be called my initial “practice” in Buddhism.)

At the time I was questing whole-heartedly the Liberation Way of Hinayana with a vengeance, quite unexpectedly I happened to lay my hand on a copy of The Sutra of the Wondrous Dharmic Lotus from the University library which I checked out directly.  That same night I read this Sutra with my legs crossed, and in the wee hours I read up to the Second Segment, “On Expedite Means,” wherein the Buddha said, “Sariputra, what is signified by the Buddhas World-Venerated Ones’ Emergence in the worlds is that it is solely due to the Causal Factor for the One Grand Task.” . . . The Buddha imparted to Sariputra, “What the Buddhas Thus-Adventists do is nothing but edify and cultivate Pusas, and whatever they undertake is invariably for the sake of the One Task, that is, to evince to and enlighten Multibeings upon  the Cognition-Perception of the Buddhas.  Sariputra, it is solely for the purpose of the One Buddha-Yana that the Thus-Adventist expounds the Dharma to Multibeings, wherein there are no other Yanas, neither Duo-yanas nor Tri-yanas.”  (English Version Sutra Text: I-2K & I-2L).

Again, in the Reiterating Gatha, the Sutra reads:

In all the Buddhaic Cosmoses in ten directions

There is no other Dharma but the One-Yana Dharma,

 

Neither Two nor Three of them are in existence,

Save in the Expedient Divulgation of the Buddha,

Where it takes on the Pseudonymous Epithets

For the inducement and ushering of the Multibeings.

 

It is for the purpose of divulging the Buddhaic Wisdom

That the Buddhas emerge in the worlds.

This Yana and only this is the One Sole Truth,

The other two are assuredly unveracious.

(English Version Sutra Text: I-2P3 & I-2P4).

Upon reading this, all of a sudden, I seemed to feel that both the heaven and the earth were revolving violently, and there were Celestial Blossoms precipitating haphazardly, and at the same time I was transported with a tremendous ecstasy wherein I was confirmed resolutely that it was only the One Buddha-Yana that ever was truthful, veracious, and ultimate;  thus I attained the Confirmed Belief in Mahayana Dharma, never to demur in the least, insofar that I had the Cognition that all the Dharmas are the Expedite Means derived from the Buddha’s Compassion to evince and conduct Multibeings.  At that time as I was so overwhelmingly moved beyond control that I could not but drive my car to the country roads in the vicinity for a slow excursion and did not return until dawn.  From then on, to my practice in Buddhism there appeared a broad new vista right in front of me, wherein I was strongly convinced in the infinitely capacious view and goal of Mahayana;  thus my mind was so widely expanded that I was able to embrace and learn all the Dharmas without any prejudice, and devoid of satiety or complacency, and I have remained thus until this day.  Furthermore, owing to the Buddha’s mindful protection, inducement and incorporation, I was also beginning to apprehend quite thoroughly one by one all the Dharmas that I took up to practice, and was even able to be enlightened on them without having recourse to others, and without much difficulty either.

All of these, I know fully well, is beholden to The Lotus Sutra, in which the Tenet of One-Yana of Dharmic Lotus has rendered my heart so greatly expanded that it has enabled me to believe, comprehend, and even to be enlightened in and ingress into the Buddhaic Cognition-Perceptions, insofar that all the unexpected achievements of mine were rendered possible.  Therefore, for the sake of repaying the Buddhas’ profound grace on me, I made up my mind to take advantage of my specialty to make some contributions to Buddhism by translating the Buddhas’ Holy Scriptures into English, so as to enable all the Multibeings in the world to gain the Causal Factor to know such supremely profound Buddhaic Cognition-Perception, whereby they can ingress deeply into the cultivation on the One Buddha-Yana, insofar as to achieve the Ultimate Bodhi soon.  Besides, it is also the primal vow of the Buddhas in their Emergences in the world to divulge the Dharma for the Multibeings.  Hence, for the sake of requiting the Buddhas’ Graces upon me, I have endeavored to promulgate the Buddhaic Wisdom, to propagate the Buddhas’ Holy Vows, to succeed to the Buddhas’ Seminal Noesis, to inherit and flourish the Buddhaic Stock—this is exactly where my wish and will lie.  Incidentally, this event of “being Confirmed in the One Buddha-Yana of mine as derived from the nocturnal study of The Lotus Sutra,” which I personally consider as “the Enlightenment on the One Buddha-Yana,”  is really one of the most definitive moment in the course of my practice on Buddhism, and I have always thought myself extraordinarily fortunate and blessed for it.

What has been recounted above is to indicate what my motive is for translating The Lotus Sutra into English:  it is simply to repay the Buddhas’ Graces on me for my Salvage, Comprehension and Enlightenment.  But in fact, it is not only so for my translating The Lotus Sutra, but also for the translation of The Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, and The Essentials of the Impartation of the Mind by Great Master Huang-Bo. (The last Scripture has already been translated, but hitherto is still in the process of being edited and designed typographically in computer for publication).  As a matter of fact, not only in translation, generally speaking, but also in all the tasks in Buddhism that I have undertaken, including the work of Sutra annotation, Scripture lecturing, and all things related to the Dharma have been prosecuted entirely from the same motive.

By the way, as mentioned above, I was ill with hyperthyroidism, which got to be very serious at the latter half of 1981, and on that account I was swiftly emaciated, and my pulse rose to 110 per minute.  My physician told me that I need either to get surgery or to be exposed to radioactive treatment immediately; otherwise the result would be unpredictable.  However, I did not listen to his advice, for I knew that if I got surgery, then I would be subjected to taking thyroxine medication all my life and with a bunch of side-effects;  on the other hand, if I took radioactive treatment, a lot of organs and tissues close to the thyroid or throat could be damaged and could lead to numerous aftermaths which would not heal for the rest of my life.  At the same time, however, my practice on Buddhism was fervently conducted with a vengeance.  At the end of that year, after a regular check-up, much to the amazement of the doctor, he found out for certain that my symptoms had greatly alleviated!  In consequence he reduced my medication into half of my prior dosage (I was told to begin taking only half a tablet of Tapazole each day).  Then at the beginning of next year 1982, after another check-up, once again he reduced half of my dosage for me (I only needed to take the “maintaining dosage” of a quarter tablet of Tapazole daily).  In the lapse of another two months, when I went in to do another check-up, much to my joy, the doctor told me:  I was completely cured!  In the course of this terrible experience, I became fully aware that Hyperthyroidism was resulted from the tense state of the mind and especially anxiety;  therefore, if one could exert oneself in practicing Buddha Dharma, which is just the direct antidote for tenseness and anxiety, one would then be healed speedily.  And later, to my observation, I came to a full understanding that actually a myriad of maladies which afflict people in modern times are derived from the tension and anxiety caused by their lifestyles, including melancholia, depression, gastric ailments, mental illness, psychoneurosis, and what not.  Broadly speaking, even cancers, as pointed out by modern medical researches, are mostly resulted from the poor balance in the mind which effects abnormal secretion in hormone, enzyme, antibiotics, and thereby leading to the anomaly and mutation in the cells and organic tissues.  Therefore, if people could try to learn and practice more on Buddhism, it would be undoubtedly help immensely to keep the mind balanced and stable—this is due to the fact that one of the principal objects in practicing Buddha Dharma is to cultivate on the “Mind” (or “Heart,”) to render it peaceful, clear, balanced and stable—whereby it would help the endocrine glands, tissues and organs to stay normal and stable, and so the body functioning and healthy.  (This accounts for the fact that, to put it in the Buddhist terms, the body and the mind are supposed to be unitary.)  Therefore, it can be said that if a person practices Buddha Dharma, his practice should make him healthier both in the mind and in the body.  Conversely, if he practices on Buddha Dharma, but he is still not benefited with a healthier mind and body, or even he should have come to develop some mental problems on that account, it should be known that this person has practiced in the wrong way!  And it is imperative that he should correct it immediately; and the correction would involve:  contents, attitudes and methods of his practice, as well as those of his teacher or guru whom he learns the Dharma from—that is to say, maybe his teacher is not a genuine Good Mentor, and maybe there are some problems in his understanding about the Dharma, or his teaching methods and goals.  If that be the case, one should be wary and vigilant, and should even act on it at once, so as to comply with what the Buddha taught:  to get close to and commune with Good Mentors, or else to be detached from Ill Mentors, so that one could hope to procure Bliss and evade calamities or even catastrophes.

By the way, at the time when I was taken ill, the reason why I was able to recover almost in a “miraculous” fashion, it was mostly due to the fact that during that time in my daily life, I always tried very hard to concentrate my mind and refrain it from aberration, reminding myself of not getting tense or even excited in any way, not lapsing into rushing or hurrying, persistently keeping myself conscious of my own body and mind, and above all, deliberately relaxing myself at all times and in any place by diligently exhorting myself to do this:  “drop down” both of your shoulders, make sure not to raise your shoulders unawares (I found out that when one was nervous or tense, one tended to raise up the shoulders unconsciously);  frequently remind yourself of not knitting your brows, and keeping it naturally relaxed;  keep the corners of your mouth or eyes from lifting up;  keep yourself from sucking in and raising up your belly, and, most importantly, never “stop breathing”!  (In the course of my practicing on the Contemplation on One’s Body in the Four Contemplations, suddenly I found that when one is deeply engrossed in doing something, one tends to be temporarily oblivious of oneself, or even to lose oneself in work, or it can be put euphemistically:  “to be concentrated in work to the extent of Self-oblivion,” and even to the extent of forgetting about breathing!—This is very amazing, isn’t it?  Actually, not at all!  That is the formula of so-called “Concentrate yourself and hold your breath.”  For instance, in the army, when one is in the shooting range, the training officer would always tell one to “hold your breath” for about three seconds so that one can aim well without any movement.  Owing to such knowledge and the experience in practicing Buddhism, I exerted myself very hard to remind myself of:  “Don’t forget to breathe”!  When one forgets to breathe, one’s mind would turn to be extremely tense and taut, and this would also pose as a most unfavorable circumstance for the heart, blood circulation, and the nerves.  If this frequently recurs and lasts long, it would form a great pressure to the heart, which is going to make it fatigued and weak, and even to render it frail, or to develop serious problems like arrhythmia (irregular rhythm of the heart’s pumping) and what not.  Besides, the nerves would also be afflicted with neurasthenia (mental frailty and disorder).  Furthermore, when one is highly concentrated, or becomes very tense in work, there will be a very odd phenomenon, i.e., one would naturally tend to contract the abdomen and keep it “suspended” there;  as a result, the total volume of breathing  capacity would be reduced and also limited in the chest cavity, therefore the total quantity of  incoming fresh oxygen would become insufficient;  and, to aggravate the problem, “holding the breath” would make the carbon-dioxide in the body hard to release—all of these problems compounded together would make one totally exhausted after a day’s work.

Owing to the practice on “the Consciousness in the Body” and “the Contemplation on the Body” as well as various adjustments bodily and mentally, such as slowing down of all my movements, refraining from exerting myself too much physically, doing away with hurrying or bustling, and deliberately doing everything in the fashion of “taking it easy,” keeping the walking pace neither too fast nor too slow;  getting rid of resentment, anger, and even complaint or bitterness ,doing my best to stay unmoved in the mind and mood.  Due to my having utmost recourse to Buddha Dharma, it had enabled me to maintain Self-consciousness quite constantly, and thereby to practice “the Contemplation on the Body” and “the Contemplation on the Mind” almost anywhere most of the time, which in turn had enabled me to refrain and subjugate my body and mind, so as to keep a ginger watch on the Mind relentlessly, refraining it from excitement or elation, and restraining it from following Inanity and Self-Indulgence—all of these efforts combined, I believe, were the underlying reason why I could be cured of that serious illness and recover my health in the space of one year.  Right now I am taking advantage of this opportunity to share with everybody the experience of this taxing hardship as well as the solitary struggle in the path of practicing Buddha Dharma, in the hope that it might be of some help to all who read this, thereby to enhance and strengthen their faith in Buddha Dharma, to induce the belief that it is only Buddha Dharma that can capacitate people to transcend the Afflictions and Adversities of the world.  Furthermore, by sharing my experience with all, I am in the hope that everybody could get the Orthodox View about what is the Right Practice in Buddha Dharma, which is neither alienated nor detached from the Worldly Dharma (i.e., the occurrences or events of everyday life).  That is to say that in the Right Buddha Dharma it does not mean that if only one practices Buddha Dharma, one would never get sick;  nor that when one is ill, one does not need to see a doctor, but simply needs to recite the Holy Names of the Buddhas, or make prostrations to the Buddhas, or recite the Sutra, or practice the Mantras, whereby one could be naturally cured of the illness—But beware, this is nothing but the External-wayism or witchcraft, but never Buddhism!  Don’t ever get it mixed up with Buddha Dharma!  And don’t ever get the wrong idea about Buddha Dharma:  in practicing Buddhism correctly, worldly diseases still need to be treated by worldly physicians;  only for the ailments that lie beyond the capacity of worldly physicians, can one seek help from Buddhas and Pusas and to administer it with Buddha Dharma—this is due to the fact that both mundane affairs and worldly people are derived from worldly Causalities, and that the Buddhas and Pusas, on account of their Compassion and Wisdom as well as freedom from Egoity, would not intervene or contravene the Law of Causality, nor compromise the Law of Causality with their egoistic authority through their “Divine Intervention,” as did the Greek gods or other religions’ gods—for if the Law of Causality were ever compromised, all the dharmas and situations of the world will be compromised and corrupted, and then would be set to run wild and disintegrated beyond control, as is now witnessed in the modern world which has been compromised by all kinds of Self-righteous rationalizations and violence of various imperious religions and political thoughts.  Throughout history, it is only Buddha and Buddha Dharma that can be free from such baneful impurities.

 

IІI. How I Proceeded to Do the Translation Work

From the books that I had read I knew that there were quite a few books on Buddhism in English;  however, most of them were either Lamaism (or Tibetan Buddhism), or Hinayanaism.  This is partly because Indo-China Peninsula (the home seat of Hinayana Buddhism), except Thailand, had been reduced to colonies of Western powers before World War II, and the colonial imperial states were desirous of understanding the culture and religion of their colonies, so as to administer further control and domination over the colonies;  therefore they would encourage and provide grants for their scholars to do research on Hinayana Buddhism.  The works of those scholars published tended to be mostly on the introductory level;  as for the translation of Buddhist Scriptures there were very scanty;  the reason for this is that there are two great difficulties hard to overcome for the translation of Hinayana Buddhist Scriptures into Western languages :

1.  Even up to now, the Hinayana Buddhist Scriptures are still written in the language of Pali, rather than in the local languages, such as Thai or Laotian.  Consequently, in order to translate the Hinayana Buddhist Scriptures into Western languages, one would need to master the Pali, which is a very ancient language used in India at the time of the Buddha (more than 2500 years ago);  but now only some learned monks of Hinayana Buddhism could be proficient in Pali.  It would be inaccessible for the general lay people to learn the Pali, not to mention that the imperialists who had invaded and occupied those countries should think of learning from the monks the Pali which they deemed most sacred and most treasurable, and which they knew would turn to assist the imperialists to dominate and exploit their country further, even in the sphere of culture.

2.  In Western languages the terminology in Buddhism is totally absent, and so it has to be instituted (or “created”) and established to a certain extent before the translation of the Scriptures could be launched.  Such is also the case with Buddhism when it was first transmitted from India to China:  it was also necessary for the translation masters to institute and establish the Buddhist terms in Chinese one by one, so as to get the translation work underway.  Due to such understanding, prior to my actual commencement in the translation work, it took me nearly 15 years (1982-1997) to do the “Prep Work,” that is, collecting and translating the Buddhist terms into English, and putting each of them down in a 3 by 5 card apiece, which in the end has come to fill four big library catalog boxes, and then I had them been typed up into computer and compiled into more than 800 pages hitherto, which I have entitled A Short Dictionary for English Translators of Buddhist Scriptures.  So far, this Short Dictionary is still being amended and amplified, because I am still in the process of translating another great Sutra of huge bulk, The Sutra of Floral Grandeur—alias, The Hua-Yen Sutra, (the Chinese version of which is over 4000 pages in total,) and in the course of translating this Sutra, from time to time, there are quite a few items to be added into the Short Dictionary.

 

IV. “The Five Non-renditions” and “Faithfulness-Communicativeness-Elegance”—The Traditional Principles in the Translation of Foreign Works into Chinese

In China there are two major periods in the translation of foreign works into Chinese:  First, the Ancient Period, beginning from Post-Han Dynasty through the Six Dynasties, Suei Dynasty and Tang Dynasty (c. 50AD–800);  Second, the Modern Period, from Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties to the Republic time (c. 1400–), which takes up Western or European works as the major subjects for translation.

1. The Principle of “Five Non-renditions” in the Classical Translation (五不翻)

In the translation of Buddhist Scriptures in the Classical Period, all the great translation masters were able to display their individual characteristic talents in translation;  none the less, all of them complied with the customary Guidelines of “the Five Non-renditions.”  “The Five Non-renditions” here denote that for some words, terms, or phrases, they were done simply with Transliteration (“sound-rendering”), rather than by translating their meanings into Chinese.  The five “Rules” are as follows :

(1) Non-rendition for Esotericism (秘密不翻)—Such as Mantras, Dharanis, or Divine Charms:  due to their Esoteric nature and implications, the translating masters would not render their meanings from Sanskrit into Chinese, but would simply render the pronunciation of these terms or words into close corresponding Chinese characters to enable the Chinese readers to read them.

(2) Non-rendition for Stateliness (莊嚴不翻)—Such as the terms “Prajna,” “Nirvana,” “Bodhi,” and the like.  With a view to maintaining the nature of Stateliness in the original language, ordinarily they would only be transliterated as well, without translating their meanings into Chinese.

(3) The Non-rendition for Alien Objects (此方無不翻)—There are some objects that are indigenous to India, but not to be found or available in China, such as “Amala fruit,” “Haritaki fruit,” and the like—these terms were only to be transliterated.

(4) The Non-rendition for Polysemy (多義不翻)—Some terms are endowed with multiple meanings (polysemous), such as “Bhagavam,” having six meanings (masterfulness, fervent exuberance, sublimely fair, prodigiousness, auspiciousness, and majestic nobleness);  “Bhiksu,” having four meanings (terrifying Maras, Mendicant Practitioner, Vice Destroyer, and Non-genesis)—terms like these were only treated with transliteration.

(5) The Non-rendition for Compliance with Conventions (順古不翻)—some terms, such as “Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi,” since of old have been customarily agreed to be simply transliterated without translating its meaning.

The Five Non-renditions above were the traditional guidelines for the translation of Buddhist Scriptures into Chinese formulated in the course of 1000 years between Post-Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty.  Accordingly, when I undertook to do translation myself, I also respected and complied with such long-established tradition in my work.

2. The Three Principles of “Faithfulness, Communicative-ness, and Elegance” (信達雅)

As for the modern times, the theory and practice in the translation of Western learnings into Chinese starting from Ming Dynasty, Ch’ing Dynasty until now, the most prominent one is the principle of “Faithfulness-Communicativeness-Elegance” put forward by the celebrated translator Yen Fu (1854-1921) who lived from late Ch’ing Dynasty to the beginning of the Republic time.  These three principles are delineated as follows:

(1) Faithfulnes (信)

Faithfulness” here refers to “the faithfulness to the original work,” which implies the fact that basically speaking, “translation” is not “creative writing”;  therefore, the translator ought to be faithful to the original author’s text in his translation, and ought not to alter or revise either the meaning or the contents at will—this is called “being faithful to the original work.”

(2) Communicativeness (達)

Communicativeness” here denotes that the translated text should be capable of transmitting or expressing the meaning of the original author, or that the translated text ought to be endowed with comprehensibility,” which means it should be intelligible to the reader.  This would mean to say that besides being faithful to the original text, the translator should also fulfil in the transmission of the meaning intended by the original text, without any deviation from it, nor could he make it appear bizarre, nor so difficult to articulate in reading as to sound tongue-twisting and teeth-clanking, nor even so incomprehensible as to get the reader totally lost to the meaning after reading it many a time.  If that be so, it would wholly fail in the function and purpose of translation.  Therefore, needless to say, it is a sine qua non that the translated text should be able to pass on the original author’s idea or meaning so as to fulfil the fundamental duty of translation.

Concerning Faithfulness and Communicativeness, the most eminent instances would be the translating styles of Master Shuen Juang (of Tang Dynasty) and Master Kumarajiva (of Jin Dynasty):  while Master Shuen Juang emphasizes more on Faithfulness, Master Kumarajiva stresses more on Communicativeness.  In consequence, most of the translations of Master Shuen Juang would read more like “Straightforward Translation,” without much ado of sculpturing or decorations, hence it tends to leave more “carving traces” behind it and impress one with a feeling of its being a “translated” work.  Whereas the translation of Master Kumarajiva leans more heavily toward Communicativeness, and so it is inclined to be more of “Import-conveying Translation,” which takes consideration more on the fluency and lucidity of the Chinese, and so it tends to make an impression on the reader that the opus appears “unlike a translated work,” but looks more like an “original” Chinese writing instead.  Of course, either of them has his particular traits;  however, generally speaking, when I do my translation, I am more inclined to the “Kumarajiva-like” style.   The sole reason for it is with a view to enabling the people who are conversant with English could read and understand the import of this Sutra could at the same time appreciate and even relish the graceful, sophisticated, and refined taste and magnificent gusto in Buddhist Scriptures, thereby to infuse them with veneration and appreciation, and even inspire them with the zeal to practice.

In this respect, there are quite a few instances in the field of English literature, amongst which the most prominent example would be the English translation of the Bible :  there had been several versions of translation of the Bible, but since the emergence of the King Jame’s Version, owing to its classical elegance and finesse in the diction and composition, which were all in very good keeping with the Englishman’s literary penchant and taste, it has been well loved and read by all, insofar as to be viewed as the first-rate original work in English literature, and even to have become a required reading for its literary quality for the learners and scholars of English-American literature all over the world.  Another celebrated instance of this nature would be that of Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), an English poet in the 19th Century, who translated The Rubaiyat, a book of verse in quatrains by Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet in the 12th Century.  Owing to the fact that the versified translation of Fitzgerald was able to reflect or express the meaning and taste of the original poems, and the wording and composition of the translated work is also so incredibly elegant and splendid, Fitzgerald’s translation has even come to be an eminent work in English literature, and has also been compiled in the anthologies of English literature, and has been included in the required Reading List for students of English literature, not as a work of translation, but rather as an original “creative writing”! 

Regarding this it is also the same with most of the translated works of Buddhist Scriptures in China:  almost all of the Buddhist Scriptures translated into Chinese are endowed with an exceptional elegant gusto in the style, and the contents are so magnificently rich, intellectually captivating and superbly profound that throughout Chinese history they have not only been viewed as the first-rate philosophical works, but also as the literary works of the highest echelon.  Lately, even Dr. Hu-Shih, a well-known scholar graduated from Cornell University, also extolled The Sutra of Floral Grandeur as literary work of the highest stratum.  All of these can serve as a testimony that translated works can be very popular and well-read, and therefore influential culture-wise, due to its literary traits.

As for the sacred scriptures of other countries, either the original or translated, are all deemed the best literary works of the countries in question, such as the Bhagavad-gita of India, The Four Books of China, and the translations of The Bible in most western countries.  Accordingly, the “Communicativeness” and “Elegance” in the midst of the three translation principles of “Faithfulness-Communicativeness-Elegance,” are usually indivisible, so as to make the task of translation attain the most and best of its function, especially in the translation of Holy Scriptures.

(3) Elegance (雅)

In addition to Faithfulness and Communicativeness, Mr. Yen Fu advocates that the translated text should also aim at Elegance and Exquisiteness as much as possible, and should shy away from uncouthness and vulgarity;  for, he maintains, after all, the art of writing is belles-lettres, which is revered and relished by men of letters and genteel people, and as such it should be presented as a work of elegance and gracefulness, which in general is also universally recognized.  Nonetheless, in translating works of literature, such as novels, if there are descriptions about village men or boorish women, peddling merchants or marching soldiers, along with their respective speeches and deeds—if these are couched in refined phraseology, it would appear unrealistic and affected.  However, in the translation of Holy Scriptures, since the text mostly consists in the words or deeds of Sages and Saints, or the Holy Ones, it is appropriate to be expressed in urbane locutions, and furthermore, frequently it might call for archaic diction or style for the translation.  For instance, in the case of Buddhist Scriptures, the original texts were all written in the ancient language (the Sanskrit of more than 2500 years old), whilst the Chinese Text was also written in the no less ancient Chinese language;  therefore, it would be apposite to make the translation in archaic English.  On account of this, when I was translating Buddhist Sutras into English, I generally endeavored to render them into somewhat archaic English, whenever possible.  In this way, hopefully, it could meet the three principles of “Faithfulness-Communicativeness-Elegance” at one stroke:

1)   It could convey the archaic state of beauty of the Original Chinese text into English, thereby to achieve Faithfulness ......