Translation Skeptic's Q&A At Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s invitation, more than 50 of the Tibetan-to-English translators dedicated to the preservation of the Buddhadharma and 7 incarnate lamas traveled to Deer Park Institute in Bir, India, to discuss the aspirations and practicalities of translating the words of the Buddha and to set goals for the next 5, 25, and 100 years. The conference, held from March 15-20, 2009, brought together teachers from the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and translators from all over the world. The vision of the conference was vast, the atmosphere was enthusiastic and cooperative, and the motivation of the participants to bring the Buddhadharma to the West was inspiring. The resulting Buddhist Literary Heritage Project is immense, ambitious, and important—but it’s difficult for some people to get their minds around it. Translating the entire Buddhist canon will take an enormous amount of energy, and some people have asked us simply: “Why?” Here we’ve attempted to address questions about the project by using the words of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Q: My lama is part of a living tradition. Why do we need to dredge up the past by translating old sutras? DJKR: The living traditions of Dharma that still exist today—for example, in Japan, China, Thailand, and Burma—have only survived because they had the foresight to translate the original sacred Buddhist texts into their own languages. Also, those in the Tibetan community who are still able to understand and communicate in classical Tibetan are rare. In about 100 years there will be almost no Tibetans who can read the words of Kangyur and Tengyur and understand their meaning, and very soon it will be too late to do anything about it. The Dalai Lama: I often tell young Tibetans that if they cannot easily understand Tibetan, then they should read English translations. Now even my own brother uses both texts. He reads the Tibetan, and sometimes when it’s a little difficult to understand the meaning of certain terminology, then he reads the English. He compares the two, and finds it very useful.