Thursday, December 08, 2005

Simple Words - CHEN

chen po is a word you will see a lot, it means big, huge, great. The root is really chen, great, and then depending on the word itself, male or female, and so forth, you might see chen po, chen pa, chen mo and so forth. Examples:

theg pa chen po - Supreme Vehicle, in Sanskrit Mahayana, maha is great, and yana is vehicle. Today it's better to translate this as the Vehicle of Universal Responsibility, this as it is not appropriate to talk about lesser and greater vehicles, it's against the idea of equanimity.

nag po chen po - the "Great Black One", another name for the wrathful aspect of Avalokiteshwara, or Mahakala. See the maha here again, it became mega in English.

kun mkhyen chen po - the Great Omniscient One (kun mkhyen - all-knowing), the title given to a great Nyingma teacher also known as Longchenpa, or klong chen pa. This is an example how chen po is used in honorary titles. klong is a good word for this teacher, it means space, vast, and Longchenpa is famous for the Nyingma Dzogchen teachings.

Note how the adjective come after the noun, such as black great one.

A variation of chen po is chen mo, the female mo is used in honorific titles referring to the wisdom aspect of the title, as the female force is associated with wisdom (the male force is associated with activity). Thus, lam rim chen mo is the famous text written by Je Tsongkhapa (rje tsong kha pa) who founded the Gelug tradition (dge lugs) , lam rim is paths and stages, so this is the Great Treatise on the Stages and the Paths.

PS: dge is virtue and lugs is here tradition, so dge lugs is the tradition of the virtuous ones, referring to the emphasis on the monastic tradition and buddhist vows in the Gelug tradition. Not that all the other Tibetan Buddhist traditions also have a monastic tradition and emphasize keeping the vows.

Homework: Figure out the word 'byung ba chen po that shows up quite a lot in Abhidharma-kosha...

No comments: