Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

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tonysharp
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Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Thu May 23, 2019 2:06 pm

I've been comparing excerpts from a few translations. I think I like the Chung Tai translation the most, but I don't know if there'd be any benefit to choosing a different translation. Here are the four I've been comparing:

Chung Tai Translation Committee
The Buddha said to Subhuti: “The bodhisattvas and mahasattvas should thus subdue their thoughts: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they are born from eggs, from wombs, from moisture, or by transformation; whether or not they have form; whether they have thoughts or no thoughts, or have neither thought nor non-thought, I will liberate them by leading them to nirvana without residue. When immeasurable, countless, infinite numbers of sentient beings have been liberated, in reality, no sentient beings have been liberated. Why is this so? Subhuti, if bodhisattvas abide in the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span, they are not bodhisattvas.”
A.F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam
Buddha said: Subhūti, all the bodhisattva heroes should discipline their thoughts as follows: All living creatures of whatever class, born from eggs, from wombs, from moisture, or by transformation, whether with form or without form, whether in a state of thinking or exempt from thought necessity, or wholly beyond all thought realms—all these are caused by me to attain unbounded liberation nirvāna. Yet when vast, uncountable, immeasurable numbers of beings have thus been liberated, verily no being has been liberated. Why is this, Subhūti? It is because no bodhisattva who is a real bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an ego entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality.
Red Pine
The Buddha said to him, “Subhuti, those who would now set forth on the bodhisattva path should thus give birth to this thought: ‘However many beings there are in whatever realms of being might exist, whether they are born from an egg or born from a womb, born from the water or born from the air, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perception or no perception or neither perception nor no perception, in whatever conceivable realm of being one might conceive of beings, in the realm of complete nirvana I shall liberate them all. And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.’ And why not? Subhuti, a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a being cannot be called a ‘bodhisattva.’ And why not? Subhuti, no one can be called a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a self or who creates the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.”
William Gammell
Thereupon, the Lord Buddha, with majesty of person, and perfect articulation, proceeded to deliver the text of this Scripture, saying:—— “By this wisdom shall enlightened disciples be enabled to bring into subjection every inordinate desire! Every species of life, whether hatched in the egg, formed in the womb, evolved from spawn, produced by metamorphosis, with or without form or intelligence, possessing or devoid of natural instinct—from these changeful conditions of being, I command you to seek deliverance, in the transcendental concept of Nirvana. Thus, you shall be delivered from an immeasurable, innumerable, and illimitable world of sentient life; but, in reality, there is no world of sentient life from which to seek deliverance. And why? Because, in the minds of enlightened disciples there have ceased to exist such arbitrary concepts of phenomena as an entity, a being, a living being, or a personality.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

zerwe
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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by zerwe » Thu May 23, 2019 4:00 pm

Interesting. I think choosing whichever one resonates with you and sticking with it would likely be the most beneficial.
The imprint is the same. I guess utilizing different translations would help while engaging in studying the meaning.
I use George Churinoff's translation and, while I feel that this translation comes with its own challenges, it is the one I
am the most familiar with and the one I utilize in my practice.
Shaun :namaste:

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu May 23, 2019 4:49 pm

This one with the commentary of Master Hsuan Hua:
The Buddha told Subhūti, all Bodhisattvas, Mahāsattvas, should thus subdue their hearts with the vow, “I must cause all living beings — those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought — to enter nirvàna without residue and be taken across to extinction. Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living being taken across to extinction. And why? Subhūti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva."
May all seek, find or follow the Path of Buddhas.

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by humble.student » Fri May 24, 2019 1:54 am

I would agree with the poster above who said to find one that resonates, and use that mainly while also consulting other versions now and again for more difficult passages.

Conze and Charles Luk also have translations worth taking a look at. And once you're done reading the sutra, consider reading a commentary, there are a handful available in English; Red Pine's edition gives a nice sample of the variety of commentarial material available in Chinese, and there's also "Diamond Sutra Explained" by Nan Huai-ch'in. Others include commentaries by vens. Thich Nhat Hanh, Hsing Yun, Hsuan Hua, but I have not read those myself. And there are presumably translations from Tibetan too.

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by SunWuKong » Fri May 24, 2019 4:15 am

Mu Soeng
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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Fri May 24, 2019 1:32 pm

Thank you all.
zerwe wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:00 pm
I think choosing whichever one resonates with you and sticking with it would likely be the most beneficial. The imprint is the same.
Good point.
SunWuKong wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 4:15 am
Mu Soeng
Do you know where I could read a sample of his translation?
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Fri May 24, 2019 1:40 pm

Does anyone else get nitpicky about word usage in translations?

If not for a few word choices in the Red Pine translation, I'd probably like it more. For example, in chapter three, there's this line, "thus gives birth to this thought." Coming from the Theravada tradition, I'm used to hearing this act rendered as disciplining, training, or even subjugation, not birthing. The Chung Tai translation is my current favorite because it feels more like a "Buddhist" text to me. It's not too contemporary or abstract. It's challenging yet coherent.

A little off-topic, chapter 25 was an eyeopener.
“Subhuti, what do you think? You should not claim that the Tathagata has the thought, ‘I will liberate sentient beings.’ Subhuti, do not have such a thought. Why? There are in fact no sentient beings for the Tathagata to liberate. If there were sentient beings liberated by the Tathagata, it would mean that the Tathagata holds the notions of a self, a person, a sentient being, or a life span. Subhuti, when the Tathagata says ‘I’, there is actually no ‘I’. Yet ordinary beings think there is a real ‘I’. Subhuti, the Tathagata says that ordinary beings are in fact not ordinary beings. Therefore they are called ordinary beings”
I had to stop and think hard for a moment about what this teaching was implying. As I interpret it, without having read a commentary (which I will soon), within samsara, there are beings to liberate. But outside of samsara, the true world free of dualistic distinctions, there are no beings to liberate.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by humble.student » Sat May 25, 2019 1:31 am

tonysharp wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 1:40 pm
Does anyone else get nitpicky about word usage in translations?

If not for a few word choices in the Red Pine translation, I'd probably like it more. For example, in chapter three, there's this line, "thus gives birth to this thought." Coming from the Theravada tradition, I'm used to hearing this act rendered as disciplining, training, or even subjugation, not birthing. The Chung Tai translation is my current favorite because it feels more like a "Buddhist" text to me. It's not too contemporary or abstract. It's challenging yet coherent.
For a moment I thought you had mixed up your verses, but on checking, found that that is indeed what the respective translations say. The reason for that was that "giving rise to this thought" is a fairly common occurrence in the Diamond Sutra, and the word 生 'to give rise to' also means 'birth'. But I was wrong: the term in verse 3 is 降伏, 'tame' or 'subdue', and where that occurs in the preceding verse, RP renders it as 'controls'. My guess would be given the plethora of birthing going on in verse 3 it must have stuck in his mind and inserted itself into the phrase...

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Sat May 25, 2019 3:31 pm

humble.student wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 1:31 am
tonysharp wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 1:40 pm
Does anyone else get nitpicky about word usage in translations?

If not for a few word choices in the Red Pine translation, I'd probably like it more. For example, in chapter three, there's this line, "thus gives birth to this thought." Coming from the Theravada tradition, I'm used to hearing this act rendered as disciplining, training, or even subjugation, not birthing. The Chung Tai translation is my current favorite because it feels more like a "Buddhist" text to me. It's not too contemporary or abstract. It's challenging yet coherent.
For a moment I thought you had mixed up your verses, but on checking, found that that is indeed what the respective translations say. The reason for that was that "giving rise to this thought" is a fairly common occurrence in the Diamond Sutra, and the word 生 'to give rise to' also means 'birth'. But I was wrong: the term in verse 3 is 降伏, 'tame' or 'subdue', and where that occurs in the preceding verse, RP renders it as 'controls'. My guess would be given the plethora of birthing going on in verse 3 it must have stuck in his mind and inserted itself into the phrase...
I really appreciate your explanation. And I feel vindicated now. :D When approaching an important text for the first time, I try to compare translations to look for anomalies, which are sometimes a sign that too many liberties were taken.

:namaste:
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat May 25, 2019 4:08 pm

tonysharp wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 1:32 pm
Thank you all.
zerwe wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:00 pm
I think choosing whichever one resonates with you and sticking with it would likely be the most beneficial. The imprint is the same.
Good point.
SunWuKong wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 4:15 am
Mu Soeng
Do you know where I could read a sample of his translation?
Not exactly, he is a former Korean Zen monastic, of India national origin. His take on things is quite scholarly, he is a visiting scholar at Barre. Google his name and read a few interviews
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat May 25, 2019 4:16 pm

I actually heard a teacher make disparaging remarks about Red Pine. It’s rather pathetic as I feel his translations are very approachable
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Sat May 25, 2019 4:19 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 4:08 pm
Not exactly, he is a former Korean Zen monastic, of India national origin. His take on things is quite scholarly, he is a visiting scholar at Barre. Google his name and read a few interviews
Apologies. I should've been more specific. I'd like to read a sample of his translation of the Diamond Sutra because I may wish to purchase it. There's a paperback of his book on the Diamond Sutra from Wisdom Publication, but the sample only includes his introduction, not any part of the sutra itself.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat May 25, 2019 4:24 pm

If I was at home i’d upload some jpgs to you, but I’m out in Kentucky right now for about a week
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Sat May 25, 2019 4:49 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 4:24 pm
If I was at home i’d upload some jpgs to you, but I’m out in Kentucky right now for about a week
Understood. Thank you.

I just accidentally bought the ebook on Amazon. Apparently, 1-click purchase really does mean 1-click purchase... Thankfully, I had some Kindle credits, so I wasn't charged full price. While I'm at it, I might as well share chapter 3.

Mu Soeng
The Buddha said to Subhuti, "All the bodhisattva-mahasattvas, who undertake the practice of meditation, should cherish one thought only: 'When I attain perfect wisdom, I will liberate all sentient beings in every realm of the universe, whether they be egg-born, womb-born, moisture-born, or miraculously born; those with form, those without form, those with perception, those without perception, and those with neither perception nor non-perception. So long as any form of being is conceived, I must allow it to pass into the eternal peace of nirvana, into that realm of nirvana that leaves nothing behind, and to attain final awakening.' And yet although immeasurable, innumerable, and unlimited beings have been liberated, truly no being has been liberated. Why? Because no bodhisattva who is a true bodhisattva entertains such concepts as a self, a person, a being, or a living soul. Thus there are no sentient beings to be liberated and no self to attain perfect wisdom."
This is a nice rendering.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat May 25, 2019 5:03 pm

Another reason to like Mu Soeng’s translation: he sees these texts as authentic Indian Mahayana culture and not as something like Chinese fractured fairy tales
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Sun May 26, 2019 3:16 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:03 pm
Another reason to like Mu Soeng’s translation: he sees these texts as authentic Indian Mahayana culture and not as something like Chinese fractured fairy tales
I greatly appreciate how well Mu Soeng has balanced the historical context of the texts with their applicability. Clearly, he takes the teachings seriously, but not to the extent of blind devotion. I love this book so far. I wasn't expecting such an informative overview on the history of Mahayana Buddhism. I've learned a lot—and I haven't even started the sutra yet.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by Caoimhghín » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:55 pm

This interlinear translation by Venerable Yifa, M. C. Owens, and P. M. Romaskiewicz with associated commentary (I'm not sure the author of the commentary, though) might be of interest to you if you are a fellow language nerd.

http://ntireader.org/taisho/t0235.html
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

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Re: Which translation of the Diamond Sutra would you recommend?

Post by tonysharp » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:11 pm

Caoimhghín wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:55 pm
This interlinear translation by Venerable Yifa, M. C. Owens, and P. M. Romaskiewicz with associated commentary (I'm not sure the author of the commentary, though) might be of interest to you if you are a fellow language nerd.

http://ntireader.org/taisho/t0235.html
I am, indeed, a language nerd. :D

Thank you for this.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
Tannisho VI

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