Erik Pema Kunsang (Erik Hein Schmidt), a native of Denmark, is the publisher of Rangjung Yeshe Publications, which translates contemporary Tibetan teachings and classical Buddhist texts into English. He studied under Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and many other masters. Currently, he is a student of and interpreter for Tulku Urgyen’s sons, particularly the eldest, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. He lives in Nepal, publishing out of Kathmandu, Denmark, and California, together with his wife, Marcia Binder Schmidt.
Do you consider your translation and interpretation work to be practice? Definitely.
So would a Buddhist practitioner’s translation necessarily be different from a purely academic translation? Yeah. I noticed that the more kindness and the more insight our translators have the better they are at conveying the dharma in an authentic way. It’s not about just “getting the words right.”
There are words like dharma or bodhichitta, which have many meanings, and for which we have no adequate translation. Do you always use these words, or do you translate them according to context?
Dharma is famous for having at least ten different meanings. Bodhichitta, quite a few meanings also, so if I can use an English word that really communicates the original word’s meaning in a specific context, then certainly I’ll do that. But I don’t do it much; I mostly use those words in their Sanskrit version.
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