Tuesday, May 22, 2007

rgyu - cause

Another word that might show up when studying about the causes of suffering is rgyu, or cause. Note that depending on the translation it could be singular, or plural in case the part of the causes is directly omitted.

As an example, let's take 'khor ba'i rgyu, causes of samsara. 'khor ba is samsara, or the wheel (of cyclic existence). Note again that it's not clear from the Tibetan that the causes are plural, but there are many causes to samsara, actually in the Mahayana tradition it could be distilled into one big cause -- but more about that later. Anyway, as a translator one needs to think about the expression and translate in case the definition requires plural or singular. This is why it's so important not just to learn words, also learn inside out the topic in order to make an accurate translation, or as close as possible.

For those studying Tibetan letters, that funny short thing on top of the bigger stack is ra, but in that short form when stacked. This is also a good example where you have four letters stacked on top of each other -- a pain for anyone designing computer fonts and text systems. But it's so cool!

1 comment:

Ken said...

For many years, I puzzled over this word, sometimes using seed and sometimes using cause, but not happy with either. I knew the word expressed something along the lines of Aristotle’s notion of entelechy (having one's end within) and also reflected the starting point (if one can use such a term) of a process of evolution or maturation. Then, when an old colleague of mine brought up the word in connection with some translation work she was doing, the word genesis popped into mind. I now think this is the most accurate word in English.