by Ven. Thubten Lamsel
Venerable Thubten Chodron has authored 17 books on numerous Buddhist topics and edited 17 others. Mainstream publishers and private presses have translated many of these titles from English to create 65 publications in 14 languages: Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. There’s a directory of translated titles here.
Most recently, an Indonesian publisher has released How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator with the Indonesian title Bebas dari Ketakutan: Sebuah Perlindungan dari Bhagawati Arya Tara. (Ven. Chodron visits Indonesia November 25 through December 3. See details.)
Translating Dharma books is a work of love and determination. While many of the books have been published professionally, some of the translations are done by volunteers and published privately for free distribution. l spoke to some of the volunteer translators about their efforts.
Translating into Vietnamese
Working with Anger, published in 2001, was translated into Vietnamese last year and is now available for free download online. Two nuns from Vietnam worked on the translation; one of them was Sravasti Abbey resident Venerable Thubten Pende, who immigrated to the United States when she was 27.
Venerable Pende was inspired by the understanding that anger is an affliction that can be overcome. She was interested in translating Working with Anger, she said,because she felt the need to, “Share with people how to control and work with our anger, to subdue our anger so we don’t harm ourselves or others.”
It took eight months to complete the task. When asked about any challenges she encountered, Venerable Pende said, “When you translate, you can’t translate word by word, or you lose how things are said in Vietnamese. And if it doesn’t come out smooth, then you lose the interest of the reader. Now that I’m doing more translation I think I’m getting a bit better, but at first it was very difficult!”
Venerable Pende is currently translating Transforming our Daily Activities, a free distribution book on how to transform daily activities into acts of compassion and loving-kindness—and there are more on her translation waiting list!
Last fall, Vietnamese translator Dieu Lien Ly Thu Linh published another of Ven. Chodron’s books, Dealing With Life’s Issues, with 2,500 copies for free distribution. These are also available online. Ly Thu Linh has also translated many articles for ThubtenChodron.org over the years.
But translation is only one step in the process of e-book publication. Wee Chiang Lai from Singapore has been a dedicated Abbey supporter from afar for many years. He offers his time and skill to transform texts into e-book format so people from across the globe can enjoy them.
Translating into Hebrew
Translator Yael Shalev persistently translated the text over a number of years, motivated by the benefit she saw in making the text more widely available. “I believe this is an excellent book for people who are unfamiliar with Buddhism, as well as those who have knowledge of the path and want one comprehensive, down-to-earth text that they can keep coming back to.”
Yael said she has returned to Open Heart, Clear Mind repeatedly in times of need during the course of her Buddhist studies and practice.
Please join us in rejoicing in this meritorious work, and share the information with all friends who are interested in learning more about the Dharma.
If you have the skill and time to assist in translating more of Ven. Thubten Chodron’s books, we also welcome your interest. Write the office to volunteer.