« The place of the Brahmin in Buddhism | Main | Going deeper into our inner life »

January 25, 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

@david b; Yes, as Stephen Mitchell explains in the Forward,

“As to method: I worked from Paul Carus’s literal version, which provides English equivalents (often very quaint ones) alongside each of the Chinese ideograms. I also consulted dozens of translations into English, German, and French. But the most essential preparation for my work was a fourteen-year-long course of Zen training, which brought me face to face with Lao-tzu and his true disciples and heirs, the early Chinese Zen Masters.”

So, he’s not pretending otherwise. And he’s not the first ‘translator’ to use that method.

He goes on, “With great poetry, the freest translation is sometimes the most faithful.” Of course one can argue with that approach or with his work, but his intent is to capture Lao-tzu’s mind and I find this version has an elegance and simplicity of expression which I appreciate.

But it’s not for everyone.

david b:

Agreed, but don't waste your breath.

If I'm not mistaken, this fellow is a Robert Baker Aitken fanboy, whose spiritually bankrupt lineage has given us confused and nihilistic "monks" such as Dosho Port whom Clyde is somehow convinced are the standard bearers of Zen Buddhism.

He's a well meaning worldling but sadly too proud to listen to anyone who doesn't wave a fly whisk.

@clyde, Stephen Mitchell’s translations are not translations. The guy is "translating" everything from the Tao Te Ching, to the Dhammapada, to Beowulf. Do you really think he knows Chinese, Pali, and Anglo-Saxon? Give me a break. He just takes English translations that already exist, and paraphrases them, mangles them, destroys them. Find a new translation of the Tao Te Ching. I'd suggest John C.H. Wu's.

There are many meditation techniques, but this is the “Mindfulness of Breathing” technique taught by the Buddha as recorded in the Anapanasati Sutta (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html):

"Now how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.’"

From the Udana Sutta (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.055.than.html) in reference to “an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma,”

“He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.”

And later in reference to “a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma,”

"If a monk abandons passion for the property of consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no base for consciousness. Consciousness, thus unestablished, not proliferating, not performing any function, is released. Owing to its release, it stands still. Owing to its stillness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.”

Pythagoras: Not bad! :) In the commentary to this sutta in the Udana, the exegesis is not mundane—it is for ariya. We are dealing with hyper-subtlety.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo