It’s been a little more than 20 years since I first laid eyes on a volume of the Taisho Daizokyo as a young student at Ohio State University. I had begun to teach myself to read Chinese because of my frustration with how much one translation of the Dao De Jing varied from the next. In those days, circa 1998, the World Wide Web was just beginning, and I was one of many eager experimenters who learned HTML and created free home pages to share with the world. These two interests quickly combined, and I began publishing English translations (albeit novice translations) to my website, which began as the The Gateless Passage and in later years morphed into Dharma Pearls.
Many of my translations from those early days are still circulating. The Diamond Sūtra, in particular, was released to the public and was posted on websites ranging from Buddhist to New Age in interest. You can find a well-preserved example at Buddhism Today. It was my first attempt at translation, and it was a good place to start because of lack of difficult technical terms, transliterations, and Kumārajīva’s easy Chinese prose.
Over the next 10 years, I translated a number of other short texts like Xuanzang’s Smaller Pure Land Sūtra and the Visualization of Amitabha Sūtra. My largest project was an attempt at translating the Great Parinirvāṇa Sūtra from Chinese, but it was about 25% into the draft that I realized my knowledge of Buddhism and Chinese were still too lacking to complete it properly.
However, my studies of Buddhism and classical Chinese continued, and I’ve finally decided it’s time to return to this work. I will be updating my previous translations, editing them both for accuracy and style, and republishing them. I will also be returning to my draft of the Nirvāṇa Sūtra, dusting it off, and continuing the work that I had begun many moons ago.
Stayed tuned for more reflections, articles, excerpts, and news; and thanks for reading!