Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Honorific Word - Part 1

In Tibetan, and in the Tibetan culture, it is important to honor those that are considered being on a higher level than oneself. Examples of such relationships are between children and parents, students and teacher, disciple and guru, ordinary beings and enlightened beings, and so on.

Depending on the context, two separate words meaning the same are used back and forth in a dialogue, for example when a disciple is talking to his or her guru, and the other way around.

To express this honorific separation, there are many words that mean the same, but are used based on if the receiving side is of higher or lower level. For example, when talking about eyes, for a common person the word for eyes is mig, but for a higher being, the word is spyan. Now, Chenrezig is spelled out spyan ras gzigs, in Sanskrit Avalokitesvara. The meaning of this name is that is eyes, spyan, spyan ras is penetrating vision, and gzigs is to look. So the quick translation is "The one that sees everything." It's an ample name of a Buddha or bodhisattva who is constantly looking to help anyone out.

Another example is body, a normal body is lus, but when talking about the bodies of a Buddha (depending on the context they could be divided into two, three, or four), the body is sku, in Sanskrit kaya. Thus, the enjoyment body of a Buddha (the one that is in place just for high bodhisattvas to receive teachings) is longs sku, in Sanskrit sambhogakaya. longs is imperative of len pa, to receive , take, bring. At the first moment of Buddhahood this body is taken upon, and is not released until all sentient beings are enlightened.

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