Study and Translation

Posted on 23. Feb, 2016 by in Blog

Most of the last 12 months I’ve been reviewing the foundational texts of Shingon Buddhism, using available English translations for reference, adding some to my limited knowledge of Sanskrit and Chinese, and producing a Croatian translation of major works by Kōbō Daishi Kūkai (弘法大師空海). Some of texts I’ve done initially in 1999, but much has changed in my understanding of even the most basic Buddhist terms, not to mention esoteric doctrine and practices, so I did everything anew, consulting both old and newly available translations. Here’s a list of the texts I’ve completed, given here in alphabetical order: 

  • Benkenmitsu nikyō ron (辯顯密二教論 “On the Differences between the Exoteric and Esoteric Teachings”, available translations by Hakeda and Giebel; Croatian title “Razlikovanje egzoteričnog i ezoteričnog učenja”)
  • Bonji Shittan jimo narabi ni shakugi (梵字悉曇字母幷釋義 “Siddham mother letters”, available translation by Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Slova majke”)
  • Dainichikyō kaidai – Hōkai jōshin (大日經開題 – 法界淨心 “Commentary to the title of Mahāvairocanābhisambodhi sūtra”, available translation by Dreitlein; Croatian title “O naslovu Mahāvairocanābhisambodhi sūtre)
  • Hannyashingyō hiken (般若心經祕鍵 “Secret key to Heart Sutra”, available translations by Hakeda and Dreitlein; Croatian title “Tajni ključ za Sutru srca”)
  • Hizō hōyaku (秘蔵寶鑰 “The Precious Key to the Secret Treasury”, available translations by Hakeda and Giebel; Croatian title “Draguljni ključ tajne riznice”)
  • Jissō Hannya kyō tasshaku (實相般若經答釋 “Comments on Questions on the Shixiang bore jing”, available translation by Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Komentari na pitanja o Shixiang bore jing”)
  • Jūyukan (十喩觀 “Ten Singing Images”,  available translation by Gibson & Murakami; Croatian title “Deset slika”)
  • Kan’en no sho (勸緣疏 “On Encouraging Those with a Connection to Buddhism”, available translation by Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Pismo ohrabrenja”)
  • Konshōōkyō himitsu kada (金勝王經祕密伽陀 “Secret Gathas on the Suvarnaprabhasa-sutra”, available translation Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Tajne gathe za Suvarnaprabhasa sutru”)
  • Sanmaya kaijō (三昧耶戒序 “Introduction to the Precepts of Samaya”, available translation by White; Croatian title “Uvod u propis samaye”)
  • Shōji jissō gi (聲字實相義 “The Meanings of Sound, Letter, and Reality”, available translations by Hakeda, Giebel, and Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Glas slovo zbilja”)
  • Shōrai mokuroku (請來目錄 “A List of Texts and Items Brought from China”, available translations by Hakeda and Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Popis tekstova i predmeta uvezenih iz Kine”)
  • Sokushin jōbutsu gi (卽身成佛義 “Buddhahood Immediately and in This Body”, available translations by Takagi & Dreitlein, Hakeda, Giebel, Inagaki, and partial by Abé; Croatian title “Ostvarenje probuđenja u ovom tijelu”)
  • Unji gi (吽字義 “The Meanings of the Letter Hum”, available translations by Hakeda, Giebel, and Takagi & Dreitlein; Croatian title “Slovo hum”)

I have also rendered in Croatian the Putixin Lun (菩提心論 Bodaishin ron, “Bodhicitta shastra”, Croatian title “Rasprava o bodhicitti”), traditionally attributed to Bodhisattva Nāgārjuna, though likely work of Tripitaka master Amoghavajra (705-774). With addition of previously reedited “Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna” (大乗起信論 Daijō kishin ron, “Buđenje vjere”) and Kiyota’s “Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice” (“Shingon: doktrina i praksa”), this private library provides a comprehensive textual basis for students of Shingon Mikkyō in the Mandala Society of Croatia.

Published English-language volumes with most of these texts in them are:

  • Kūkai: Major Works” by Hakeda (amazon)
  • Shingon Texts” in BDK English Tripitaka Series (amazon)
  • Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language” by Takagi and Dreitlein (amazon)

Available material in English also includes:

  • Tantric Buddhism in East Asia” ed. Payne (amazon)
  • The Awakening of Faith” by Hakeda (amazon)
  • Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism” by Yamasaki (amazon)
  • The Weaving of Mantra” by Abe (amazon)
  • Two Esoteric Sutras” in BDK English Tripitaka Series (amazon)
  • The Vairocanābhisambodhi Sutra”  in BDK English Tripitaka Series (online) (amazon)
  • The Englightenment of Vairocana” by Wayman and Tajima
  • Art in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism” by Takaaki Sawa
  • A Study of Ritual Mudras in the Shingon Tradition and their Symbolism” by Miyata
  • The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism” by Snodgrass
  • The Rishukyo: The Sino-Japanese Tantric Prajnaparamita” by Astley-Kristensen (online)
  • Thinking Through Shingon Ritual” by Sharf (online)
  • Visualization and Mandala in Shingon Buddhism” by Sharf (online)
  • Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism” by Winfield (amazon)
  • Politics and Transcendent Wisdom” by Orzech (amazon)
  • The Culture of Secrecy in Japanese Religion” ed. Scheid & Teeuwen (amazon)
  • Kūkai” at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Krummel (online)
  • Shingon Mikkyo’s Twofold Mandala: Paradoxes and Integration” by Kiyota (online)
  • True Words, Silence, and the Adamantine Dance” by Rambelli (online)

In the next year or so I hope to improve on existing or partial Croatian translations of the three sutras most important for Shingon Buddhism: the Mahāvairocanābhisambodhi sūtra (available translations by Yamamoto and Giebel), the Vajraśekhara sūtra (available translation by Giebel), and Amoghavajra’s rendering of Adhyardhaśatikā prajñāpāramitā, most commonly known as 理趣經 Rishu-kyō in Japan (available translations by Miyata and Astley).

One Response to “Study and Translation”

  1. Phil

    04. Mar, 2016

    Fascinated by the idea of a “Secret Key to the Heart Sutra”! Am currently looking online for a copy of Dreitlein’s work and more info on this. Thanks!

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