Dear Kyabje Rinpoches, Sri Nangzey Dorje la, Venerable and friends,
We have all come to this most sacred place to recite the Buddha’s profound sūtras. Yet, all of us here, be it Tibetans, Bhutanese, Chinese, Westerners, Indian, monks or laypeople, we often forget that we completely depend on translation to follow the words and meanings of these sūtras and the prayers that we recite daily.
If we depended on the language that the original texts were in—Sanskrit and Pali—we wouldn’t be able to understand them. If not for King Trisong Detsen’s extraordinary effort to translate the Dharma into Tibetan a thousand years ago, there would be no Monlam here today. And most of the Buddha’s own precious teachings would have long ago been lost. No less effort is required today to make available these sacred Dharma texts and to give people access to the Buddha’s timeless wisdom and path to liberation.
When we started 84000 less than 5 years ago, with the goal of translating the Buddha’s words and commentaries into English and other modern languages, at that time, less than 5% of the Buddha’s teachings had been translated. Yet, there are very few Tibetan masters, and most of whom are very old, who are still able to read and understand the Tibetan texts. So, in a short period, these precious teachings can be lost forever.
As Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said in his own words when he launched the 84000, “By translating and making available the Tibetan Buddhist texts to modern people, a vast swath of Buddhist civilization and culture may be saved from annihilation.” And with your help, the huge effort by translators, teachers and patrons, like yourself, we are doing it now.
In less than 5 years, we are now translating a quarter of the Kangyur, 140 texts, 80,000 pages. Of which, 17 sūtras are now online in English and they have been read by more than a hundred thousand people from 136 countries, including people from Iraq, Pakistan, Russia and many other places that I have never even heard of. So today, all of us can read, study, understand and practice the sūtras that were previously inaccessible to us.
But our work has only just begun; we still need to translate 52,000 pages of Kangyur and more than 160,000 pages of the Tengyur. The sooner we find people to help, the sooner they will be translated before it gets too late for us.
And today, we are all coming together. We are going to celebrate what we have done so far, with the ancient monastic tradition of what we call the Sūtra Resounding, during which each and every one of us will read one different part of the sūtra and in different languages. Each one of you should have one booklet or a few pages to read, and as we all read our own parts aloud, altogether as a group we complete the entire sūtra.
The sūtra we have chosen today is called The Play in Full, a scripture that we have recently translated and published. It is so special to this sacred place because this is an extensive Mahayana text on the life story of the Buddha. As we read, let us recall that every word, every verse, be it in Tibetan, Chinese or English, is the result of the incredible hard work, sweat, blood of the wonderful translators and of your own generosity, financial contribution and participation and of the pure aspirations of so many people for translating and spreading the words of the Buddha. May what we read today plant the seed of enlightenment for ourselves and all beings.