Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VoodooPad 4.0

VoodooPad 4. 0 was announced today. I've been working with the developer, mostly to influence him to get the Unicode linking working. And it's now included! It means you could select one or more Unicode words, make a link, do a translation for the link. In other words, you could slowly build up your own dictionary of phrases and words, place names and so forth, making the translations very consistent.

Even better, if you have a MobileMe (Apple) account, you could now in 4.0 synchronize documents between multiple computers so you could have the same document or documents across your laptop, desktop and other systems.

This makes VoodooPad a very powerful translation tool.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Jamyang Khyentse on Sickness

Lotsawahouse posted today an excellent translation on Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö's text called The Universal Medicine for Healing All Ills.

The web site also has a link to the Tibetan text. It's a short and nice text to go through inside out with the English translation.

There's also a deep meaning behind it, especially for me that have had sudden manifestations of illness for a while now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tibetan Flashcards

Ryan McCormack sent me an email with a link to a project where he has built Tibetan flashcards. Check this out in case you want to use such a good tool for learning.

I've been using post-it notes everywhere, or small cards with Tibetan, sprinkled here and there. I used to have a small notepad with Tibetan, too. The computerized systems such as Ryan's, are very good as they are handy to have around and computers are good at repeating tasks.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tibetan Unicode Information on dharmadictionary

Chris Fynn updated a page and more with really good information about Tibetan Unicode worth checking out. There's another page also on this page referring to information how to install Tibetan Unicode support on various computer platforms.

As mentioned before, this blog is using Tibetan Unicode since a couple of months' back. There are many reasons, one is that it was time Tibetan was equal to English and other Western languages on Internet.

Sorry, been a while

I got behind it all, had an accident when I biked home from work, collided with a car, ended up in hospital, stayed home for a while healing broken clavicle and ribs, but I'm fine now. Expect more postings as we speak.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Heart Sutra - 8

To continue who is gathering at the Vulture's Peak: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའི་་་་་

བྱང་ཆུབ། (byang chub) is one of the first words anyone studying Tibetan Buddhist texts should learn, it means enlightenment. Here is is really part of the bigger word བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམ་དཔའ། (byang chub sems dpa'), bodhisattva

To understand this word better, སེམས། (sems) means mind. དཔའ། (dpa') means to be brave, heroic, fearless

Thus, the Tibetan translation of bodhisattva, bodhi warrior, is someone who is brave and heroic in trying to get one's mind enlightened. 

There's an འི་་་ genitive particle after this so it means that this construct it not yet complete...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Heart Sutra - 7

Next the Heart Sutra describes who else is there.


དགེ་སློང། (dge slong) is monk, bhikshu in Sanskrit. དགེ་འདུན། (dge 'dun) is sangha in general, the group of ordained monks and nuns

There's also the qualifier ཆནེན་པོ། (chen po), great. Finally there's the binding particle དང། dang which indicates there are others there, too.

Now, how to translate this part? One approach is to state that there was a great gatherings of monks and nuns, or a great gathering of sangha. Another one is great gathering of the sangha of monks.  The issue, for me, is why there was a specific qualifier for monks and the sangha?I'm not 100% sure but I would be surprised if there was no nuns present, too, at this event. For me, stating that there was a great gathering of monks and the sangha might be somewhat confusing.

So in my case  would translate this as a great gathering of monks and nuns, as using the word sangha might be confusing for anyone who does not now the Sanskrit term. Also, sangha includes all ordained persons, monks and nuns. Anyway, that would be my justification.

Anyway, if someone else has opinions, please share.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heart Sutra - 6

To continue, next is ་་་བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི་་་་ Again we need to look at bigger structures. 

བྱ་རྒོད། (bya rgod) means vulture. ཕུང་པོ། (phung po) usually means heap, but here it is actually hill, especially as the genitive particle འི binds it with རི། (ri), mountain.

All together, བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི། is Vulture's Peak, a famous mountain area near Rajagriha. You could visit that place still today.

So far,བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ་ན་བྱ་རྒོད་ཕུང་པོའི་རི་་་ also has a particle ལ། that could be translated at, so we have a better translation part now available, could even be a single sentence:

The Blessed One was staying at Vulture's Peak in Rajagriha.

Now, some translators like to even translate the place names to English. I'm kind of old school, for example it would sound strange for someone to translate the Finnish capital of Helsinki to English. So I did a compromise here, one part English, the other the original name, as Vulture's Peak is very much the known name in contemporary English texts about Buddhism.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Heart Sutra - 5

Next is རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ་ན་་་་ This is where one has to be careful with translations. རྒྱལ་པོ། (rgyal po) usually means great, royal, king.  ཁབ། (khab) means court, house, residence. But here it is really part a place name,་རྒྱལ་པོའི་ཁབ། (rgyal po'i khab) which is  Rajagriha, or present day Rajgir in India.

The astute reader might now notice that the Sanskrit raja is རྒྱལ་པོ།, so then you know that the word maharaja is the great king (maha - great.)

The particle ན། (na) is a locative particle, so later we will see how it binds the next word structure from right to left with this specific location.

So far we have translated that the Blessed One is at Rajagriha.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Heart Sutra - 4

The actual body of the sutra starts such: བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་་་་་་

བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས། (bcom ldan 'das) is Bhavagan, a title given to Buddha, the Victorious One, the Blessed One, The Conqueror, the Victorious Conqueror and so on. There are many translation of this Sanskrit title. This title is common in Sutras and other texts, so it's good to remember. 

You could see all the possible translations in the provided link to the dharmadictionary entry. But it's good to know that the root is really bhavagan.

PS: If you want to hear the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, here's an excellent link

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tibetan Unicode Text at THDL

I saw that the THDL site now also has Tibetan texts available in Unicode Tibetan. For example Longchenpa's Dispelling All Darkness Throughout the Ten Directions. (phyogs bcu mun sel)

This is good news, five years from now we will have a big collection of original Tibetan texts available in Unicode Tibetan. Even better, the search engines will index the texts so we could do very complex searches and find relevant documentation.

Heart Sutra - 3

The opening lines in sutras have the same format, this is true with the Heart Sutra, too. I've already covered this in in Sutra Opening Lines Part 1  and Sutra Opening Lines Part 2 so it's worth checking these pages out. 

We will start with the actual body of the Heart Sutra next.

PS: Here's a link to 42 different English Translations of the Heart Sutra.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heart Sutra - 2

The short name for Heart Sutra in Tibetan is ཤེས་རབ་སྙིང་པོ། shes rab snying po, or prajnaparamita hridaya in Sanskrit.

ཤེས་རབ། is wisdom, prajna. སྙིང་པོ། is essence, quintessence. Now, as part of translating the title it has become heart in English, even if the Essence of Wisdom Sutra would work fine, too.

The reason for this name is that this sutra has the essence of Buddhist wisdom teachings. If you know this short sutra inside out, you got the essence.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heart Sutra - 1

Ok, this is the next topic. We will slowly go through the translation of the whole Heart Sutra. Let's see how long that takes, but it's a noble goal. If you know how the Heart Sutra is translated and you could read it in Tibetan, you will get a huge vocabulary of words and expressions so that reading anything else will be easy. In addition, you create a lot of merit by just reading single words here and there.

I've posted some entries over time concerning sutra material, so here's a listing of postings good to check out:

I'm about to fix those pages so they use Unicode Tibetan. As part of this project I will not dwell so much into something that these parts already cover. However, this will be very suitable for beginners as well, as we will not cover huge amounts of words and sentences, they each will be a nice piece meal.

Feel free to comment below for more suggestions as we will progress along this path.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nice Online Wylie to Unicode Tibetan Converter

This link has a nice Wylie to Unicode converter; you type in Wylie into a form and the output is Unicode that you could then copy to other locations.

This could be handy for those cases where you don't know how to do a quick conversion -- for example me and in case I ever need to do this on a Windows system (XP, Vista.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tibetan Nagarjuna Quotes from Lotsawa School

See this link with interesting short Tibetan and English verses concerning quotes from Nagarjuna concerning emptiness and other topics. It's an easy and interesting way to see how short form verses are translated -- especially with very condensed meaning such as emptiness statements from Nagarjuna.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Cyrus Stearns Translations Online

See the Jonang Foundation web site for more info.

Three of the other translations, done by Michael R. Sheehy, have both Tibetan and English so you could do comparisons of how an excellent Tibetan translator is translating texts.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Learning Letters - PA

Another letter that has a high frequency is the letter PA. The reason is that this letter is used to build new words from other verbs and nouns. This means that there's a good chance you see the end of the word if you encounter པ. 

Here's an example, based on earlier letters we have gone through. སེམས། sems means mind. Note that in the modern Tibetan dialect the last letter in such combinations is not pronounced, so it sounds like SEM. However, if you listen to the Ladakh dialect, or some of the Mongolian dialects, you could still hear the ending SA pronounced so the word sounds like SEMS, as in ancient Tibetan.

If there's a word you see a lot in Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, it is སེམས།

If you add to the end of སེམས། we will get སེམས་པ། This means 'movement of the mind', the way the mind operates, from movement to movement, arising, sustaining and then giving rise to the next moment of mind.

Check out the Tibetan below to see more uses of the letter པ, especially with vowels such as པེ, པི, པོ and པུ.






Monday, March 31, 2008

Learning Letters - SA

The next letter good to learn is ས, SA. This is also the word for ground or earth. Knowing how to put together vowels we have སེ། (one of the six early tribes of Tibet), སི། (whistle or death), སོ། (tooth) and སུ། (who).

Another example is སོ་སོ།, an expression that means individual, distinct. So we got a lot of mileage just by learning another letter and how to build vowels.

Try to find the letter ས in the text below.




Saturday, March 29, 2008

Learning Letters - Vowels

With Tibetan letters, the vowels are marked with a sign above or below the root letter. To take the MA letter, if you add a line above, མེ, it becomes ME (fire). If you add this sign above, མི, it becomes MI (human, or a negation particle).  If you have this, མོ, it is MO (divination system). Finally, with this sign, མུ , you have MU (border.) 

Note that the same system is true for all other letters, examples: ལོ།  LO (age),  ནི། NI (as for), and so on. The signs above or below turns the default vowel, A-based, into a specific vowel. So if you learn these additional four vowels, you know all the five Tibetan vowels.

See if you recognize the various vowels in the Tibetan text below: