English Translation Fellows
"When there is such an overwhelming range of actual teachings that those who are interested in practicing (or simply interested in) the Buddhist path might study, why read a biographical account? Throughout history, Buddhist masters and other practitioners have devoted much time and energy to recording the deeds of former generations. ... The standard reason the Tibetan tradition gives for reading biographies is that these accounts of the lives lived, and examples set, by figures in the past inspire our own faith. In the case of Jamgön Kongtrul, we have the life example of someone who rose from very humble origins to change the course of his country’s history, not through the wielding of political power (although he came to have such power), but by his staunch and uncompromising adherence to the values of tolerance, understanding, and personal integrity in a world that, like our own, was often trying to undermine those qualities.
Jamgön Kongtrul is famous as one of the principal figures in the nineteenth century revival known as the ri-mé, or nonsectarian, movement ...
In the mid 1980s, I had the opportunity to interpret a public talk given by the late Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoché in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. During that evening, Rinpoché spoke of the ri-mé approach. He defined this quite succinctly: ‘To adopt the ri-mé approach means to follow your own chosen path with dedication, while maintaining respect and tolerance for all other valid choices.’ The operative word here is ‘valid’; what is meant is not a blanket acceptance of anyone’s doctrines.
The legacy left by Jamgön Kongtrul is still with us. His Five Treasuries constitute an extraordinary body of literature; in compiling these collections, Jamgön Kongtrul ensured that teachings that might otherwise have died out have been brought back ‘into the mainstream.'"
—Richard Barron (Chökyi Nyima), from the Introduction to The Autobiography of Jamgön Kongtrul: A Gem of Many Colors, Jamgön Kongtrul
Completed three-year retreat, Kagyu Ling, France, 1976–1980; served as translator for Kalu Rinpoche, 1980–1982; resident Lama, Vancouver Dharma Center, 1982–1986; engaged by Chagdu Tulku Rinpoche in 1986 to translate the Seven Treasuries of Longchenpa. Tsadra Foundation Fellow since 2000.
Growing up as an only child in Vancouver, Chökyi Nyima managed to turn his solitude to gold by way of his intellectual curiosity, which eventually led him into the unlikely realms of the rare book room of the public library, poring over a volume of Tibetan grammar for hours on end. This spark caught fire when Kalu Rinpoche came to town and urged Westerners to learn Tibetan.
Chökyi Nyima did just that and is now a seasoned translator and Buddhist practitioner who aspires to a respectful and meaningful accuracy in his work. Pointing out that “the basic core of the Buddhist message is really sensible,” he aims to convey that as clearly as possible. “Precision of thought” comes first in his view, and he accounts himself as something of a traditionalist simply because in the West, “we don’t know enough about the tradition in the first place.” For his part, he strives to offer translations that will strengthen the practice of Western Buddhists for generations to come.
“What I would like to be part of is presenting a very systematic methodical rational approach to Dharma that will start people with the basic building blocks, the periodic table of this thing that we’re working with.” His many exemplary non-sectarian translations bear witness to his outlook.
Previously Published Translations
• Buddhahood Without Meditation: A Visionary Account Known “As Refining One’s Perception,” Dudjom Lingpa
• The Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions, Longchen Rabjam
• A Treasure Trove of Scriptural Transmission, Longchen Rabjam
• A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, Nyoshul Khenpo
Completed Projects as a Tsadra Foundation Fellow
• The Autobiography of Jamgön Kongtrul: A Gem of Many Colors, Jamgön Kongtrul
• The Treasury of Knowledge: Books IX and X; Journey and Goal, Jamgön Kongtrul
• The Treasury of Knowledge: Book VII and Book VIII, Parts 1 and 2; Fundamentals of Buddhist Study and Practice, Jamgön Kongtrul
• The Catalog of The Treasury of Precious Instructions, Jamgön Kongtrul
• The Three Spiritual Models, Taranatha
Current Projects as a Tsadra Foundation Fellow
• The Treasury of Instructions: Essential Teachings of the Eight Practice Lineages of the Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. I - Nyingma Tradition, Jamgön Kongtrul
• The Treasury of Instructions: Essential Teachings of the Eight Practice Lineages of the Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. 2 - Nyingma Tradition, Jamgön Kongtrul
English Translation Program