The People Driving Progress: Our Editorial Team

Imagine if your to-do list had 4,500 items on it. Ours does.

84000’s vision is the translation of the Kangyur and Tengyur into modern languages, and their free availability for all. We award grants to translation teams around the world to work on texts from the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, and then review them all in-house to ensure consistency and accuracy, while also marking them up for our interactive Reading Room so you can get as much out of this timeless wisdom as possible. Though we strive to maintain the highest academic standards in our research, methodology, and accuracy, we also try to make the language of our English publications accessible to the general, educated reader. We believe this to be an important aspect in facilitating the understanding and practice of these texts, and in ensuring the continuation of a 2500-year living tradition.

The people who direct and manage this process of reviewing the translations, editing, proofreading, and marking them up, are the members of our growing Editorial Team. As far as we are concerned, they are the heart of 84000. And despite disrupted patterns of life throughout 2020, this year has been a prolific one for our Editorial team, marked by a record number of publications. The team has also had regular meetings and held numerous discussions on policy, difficult terms and expressions, issues of style and presentation, and shared knowledge and resources. Ten years into our one-hundred-year project, it seems high time that we share with you a bit more about those that are driving the progress and developments you see today.

 

Our Editorial Team

As of this year we have an editorial team of six main editors (four editors and two editorial co-directors), three copyeditors and three markup editors to make a team of twelve that work on various parts of editing and publishing the translations produced by the translation teams.

The four editors who work directly with the translators are: Dr. David Higgins, who received his doctorate in Buddhist studies from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland in 2012; Dr. Nathaniel Rich, who completed his PhD in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016; Dr. Rory Lindsay, who completed his doctorate in Tibetan studies at Harvard University in 2018; and Ryan Damron, who is currently completing his PhD in Sanskrit and South Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

You can read more about their backgrounds on our Team page.

 

Over Fifty Texts Published in 2020 alone

With this strengthened Editorial team, we have been able to publish a great number of new translations in the 84000 Reading Room. Some we are particularly pleased to have been able to share are The Hundred Deeds translated by Dr. Lozang Jamspal and Kaia Fischer of the Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York; Upholding the Roots of Virtue translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee; and the texts in 84000’s Sūtras for Well-Being Series.

 

Discussion and Debate

Throughout the year the Editorial team has continued to create stronger ties to the 84000 translator community, and many fruitful discussions have taken place between editors and translators via email and in online meetings, for example on subjects such as the practices, rituals and literature broadly classified as “Kriyātantra”, and the importance of Chinese Buddhist texts in the translation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon.

 

Improved Protocols

The Editorial team continually works on refining its internal working processes and editorial policies, as well as the quality of the published texts.  In this context a three-day meeting was held in January at Stanford University in California, hosted by Dr. James Gentry at the Department of Religious Studies, to review 84000’s published translations and editorial policies.

During this time, the team also held the first Review Council session – a new initiative in which renowned experts in the field review 84000’s publications in the presence of the translators and members of the editorial team, and offer advice and suggestions for our work.

At Stanford, Professor Paul Harrison read through passages from 84000’s 2018 publication of The King of Samādhis Sūtra together with the translator Dr. Peter Alan Roberts, and following the Review Council, Paul Harrison submitted a complete review of the sūtra, based on which the translator and Editorial team are now making revisions to the published translation.

 

In-house Translators

Also part of the Editorial team since the beginning of this year are our two associate translators:

Dr. Thomas Doctor, who holds degrees in Tibetan and Sanskrit from the University of Copenhagen, a doctorate in Buddhist studies from the University of Lausanne, and also has studied Buddhist views and practices at the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Kathmandu since the late 1980s; and

Wiesiek Mical who graduated in Sanskrit from the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London, and for a number of years taught Sanskrit at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, University of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Both have been engaged in projects for 84000 since its very beginning, and we are now fortunate to benefit from their expertise as associate translators. You can read more about them on our Team page.

 

Research and Outreach

In addition to their editorial work, our editors are also engaged in research and publication activities. Some of the articles published by 84000 editors this year include “Buddha in the Storehouse” by David Higgins in the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and articles on “The Rice Seedling Sutra“ and “The Longstanding Debate over Vegetarianism in Tibet” by Rory Lindsay in the Buddhadharma Journal.

 

While we are busy thanking the editorial team for all that they do to drive forward the exploration of the Kangyur and Tengyur, they would like to express their gratitude for the feedback and support they have received from you, the community of readers around the world, both scholars and practitioners. Together we all look forward to serving our readers by continuing to publish the fine translations that our many translators so diligently produce.