The Ekôttarika Āgama Project Begins

Tomorrow will be the official start of the Ekôttarika Āgama translation project at Dharma Pearls. This project is expected to take approximately two years to complete a well edited release, though actual time is dependent at how difficult the material turns out to be. I will be shooting for a process that translates around five pages of Taisho a week. The entire collection of sutras is about 282 pages in length, so that pace would require 54 weeks to complete the initial translation. This leaves 50 weeks open for spillover of the translation work as well as the proofing, editing, and documentation of the Āgama as a whole.

I want to take some time here to discuss the process I will be following for this project, as it will be slower and more deliberate compared to the Dīrgha Āgama, which was driven more by self-imposed milestones. Depending on the length of a DĀ sutra, a couple of which were multi-month projects, the time between first draft and release may have only been a week or two. Typically, the process consisted of the initial draft, a careful review, and one proofreading session. After reviewing some of these translations, it’s clear that I didn’t include enough proofreading time in that process, and I was too concerned with releasing at a given pace that wasn’t always realistic. The result has been more work than really should be needed after the fact. I don’t regard initial releases as final, but I’d like them scrubbed of simple typos and obvious mistakes.

The main change I’m making to my process is to devote much more time to editing and proofing. The workflow will follow this eight-week process for a given week’s-worth of translation, which could consist of one of more individual sutras:

Week 1Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8
Initial DraftReviewProof 1Proof 2Release

I’ve noticed that when I re-read old translations that I’ve forgotten about, it’s much easier to see errors and possible improvements. Essentially, it’s like reading someone else’s work after enough time has passed. So, for this project, I’ve decided to set freshly drafted translations aside for four weeks and continue work on new material. This is to ensure that when I give a draft a full review, it won’t be fresh in my memory, and I’ll be more objective when I re-read it. The reasoning is likewise for the subsequent proofreading sessions. It’ll be less likely that I’ll unconsciously skip over typos and other mechanical errors if I wait a week between these sessions. I’m just not a great proofreader, so I’ll give new translations three proofing sessions before releasing them.

This process will create a rolling schedule with new drafts being produced each week along with fully vetted translations being released. The overall workload for a given eight-week period will look like this:

Week 1W2W3W4W5W6W7W8
Draft 1Draft 2Draft 3Draft 4Draft 5Draft 6Draft 7Draft 8
Review 1Review 2Review 3Review 4
Proof 1Proof 2Proof 3
Proof 1Proof 2
Release 1

Once the weekly drafts fill the pipeline, each week will consist of drafting, reviewing four-week-old drafts, proofreading reviewed material, and releasing what has gone through the entire process. This will probably be a heavy workload at times, and I’ll slow the drafting of new material as needed. Given that the Ekôttarika Āgama is the most difficult of the four Chinese Āgamas to translate due to its poor preservation and archaic Buddhist Chinese, it will be important to focus on the editing process. I’ll also likely take week-long breaks every two or three months to refresh and evaluate how well the process is working.

Readers can expect the first new translations of the Ekôttarika Āgama to begin appearing at Dharma Pearls during the third week of December beginning with the introduction and first two chapters. In the meantime, I’ll be proofing and releasing drafts from the Madhyama and Samyukta Āgama that have been sitting for the past couple years. Those releases will begin in the last week of November and continue until the first Ekôttarika releases are ready to begin. I’ll also continue proofing previous translations as time permits.

As always, I want to thank everyone who has pitched in to make this translation project possible!

2 thoughts on “The Ekôttarika Āgama Project Begins

  1. Thanks a lot for your dedication to Dhamma. May you achieve Nibbana in this very life.
    Also thanks a lot to all those who participate in this great project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck! The EA has some interesting sutras, B. Analayo said about it that it contains older Mahayana-esque influences, but also more archaic features. Looking forward to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

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