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The Past and Future of the Order Part 1 - Order Weekend 1985

by Sangharakshita

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... simple. You just have to think about the meaning of the terms which
you use. I notice people take up, or they adopt, or start using new terms, almost fashionable
terms, very quickly and easily without in many cases understanding the meaning of those
terms at all. An example was this word or this term 'imaginal'. I started using this word a
couple of years ago. I knew the sense in which I was using it, I knew the source from which I
got it and I knew why I used it rather than the word 'imaginative' and I explained something
of that in Tuscany two years ago. But the word became current very quickly and people
started talking about the imaginal without clearly having any idea what they were talking
about. But what must they do? When they hear a new word like that, well they must be very
very sure they understand what that word really means before they start using it.
It's as though people very often think that if they use a word it's to be automatically assumed
that they know what it means, or they themselves assume that because they are able to use it
in some sort of way they know what it means. But that is far, sometimes, from being the
case.
So I would suggest that if you become aware that you are using a word that you haven't used
before, because it has gained some currency within the movement, first of all look it up in the
dictionary. It may be a perfectly normal standard English word that you just haven't
encountered before. Never fail to look things up in the dictionary. The dictionary is probably
one of the most useful books next to the Buddhist Scriptures that we have.
Every Order member worthy of his or her own salt should possess a good dictionary, not just
a tiny little pocket one but a good thick substantial dictionary and should consult it regularly,
because words are very powerful things. They can be very powerful things, they can be very
effective things but only if you can appreciate their exact shade of meaning. So if you hear a
new word, at least a new word to you that seems to have entered into your general currency,
first of all, for heaven's sake, look it up in the dictionary. If it turns out to be a word that is
being used in a very special sense or might even turn out to be a word from an eastern
language then you just have to consult the Order members that are using it or people that are
using it and ask them what they mean by using that particular word. But don't start using it
yourself when you've got only the vaguest of notions of what it actually means. I think this is
absolutely essential. So with all these words, relationship, objective, individual.
With regard for instance to this word 'objective', in my talk on "Buddhism, World Peace and
Nuclear War", I spoke about 'objective truth' and I didn't mean anything metaphysical or
abstruse or anything like that. But several people who it seems who should have known
better (people actually inside the Movement) thought I was meaning something incredibly
subtle, whereas I was simply using the words 'objective truth' in a quite ordinary matter of
fact, common sensical sort of way. It's a matter of objective truth that there's a microphone in
front of me. If you were to say well there isn't well you would be denying objective truth. It's
as simple as that. That is all that I meant. But it didn't seem to occur to people that that is all
that I meant and that really seemed extraordinary. So at some time I'll have to explain at great
length that that was all that I actually meant. [Laughter]
Some correspondents tied themselves into absolute knots trying to understand what on earth I
could have meant by objective truth. It was really extraordinary. Subhuti and I reading these
letters used to utter exclamations of astonishment and surprise and amusement and well, all
sorts of other things! (Laughter)
All right we're still on the 'Miscellaneouus'. I think this is the last 'Miscellaneous' question.
We're still warming up.
What works, if any, would you particularly like to see translated in contemporary
Western languages. Could you say something generally about the role of the
movement in coming years in relation to this area of translation?
I happen to know that the framer of the question does use words quite carefully so I've got to
be quite careful how I answer the question otherwise I shall trip up somewhere.
'What works, if any, would you particularly like to see TRANSLATED' - in capital letters and
underlined, that must have a definite significance. Particularly life. The assumption seems to
be that I would like to have all of them translated - that seems to be the assumption. Though
perhaps we shouldn't take it for granted, and yes I would like to see all of them translated -
but particularly? - I think I'd need notice of that question. Would I particularly like to see the
'The Survey' translated or 'The Three Jewels' or 'The Religion of Art'. I find it actually quite
difficult to say. I think I have to say that I really particularly would like to see them all
translated because they're all of some use. Not all in the same way, but I don't think there's
any particular work that encapsulates the whole of, what one might call for want of a better
term, my thinking. I don't think there is unfortunately. There are all sorts of bits and pieces
and some of the bits and pieces are larger than others but they all sort of play their part, they
all contribute to the total picture so to speak, of my thinking or my experience or whatever
you like to call it, so I think I have to say that I'd particularly like to see them all translated,
with the possible exception of just a few very early essays and articles.
Perhaps I could say that the more recent they are the more particularly I would like to see
them because the more recent works do embody more of my, well recent thought , more up to
date thought if you like than the earlier ones. They pre-suppose the earlier ones.
So if I'm forced to chose perhaps I'd say I'd particularly like to see my later or my more recent
perhaps shorter works translated first but I'd like to see everything translated.
Then there's this question of the role of the movement in coming years in relation to this area
of translation. I think we have to do much more work in this respect. We've been in a way
very lazy in this respect. There's not much really translated. Most translation work has been
done in Finnish and in Marathi, which is in some ways rather amazing. Some has been done
of course in Italian, some in German - I don't think anything has been done in French apart
from the odd article. So there are some very very big gaps to be filled in. Because as the
movement spreads we can't really expect everybody to learn English. Material has to be
available in their own language. We need material in German especially, in French, in
Spanish, in more of the Indian languages. Yes we've got a few things in Gujerati, we don't
have anything yet in Hindi. So a great deal more translation work is necessary. This is an
essential part, I think, of the spread of the FWBO. Unless this happens the FWBO isn't really
gong to spread very widely beyond the boundaries of the English speaking world.
So, yes translation is very very important indeed. Apart from my own works I'd like to see
Subhuti's book 'Buddhism for Today' translated into as many Western languages as possible.
Now we've got a whole bundle of questions on the fascinating subect of "The Order after
Bhante's death." [Laughter] Fortunately I'm not allowed to avoid facing the fact that I, one
day, have to go hence.(Laughter) Other whither, somehow. I'm not permitted to forget this
fact. In fact I'm reminded quite frequently, sometimes over lunch or supper, and no doubt
that's a perfectly good thing, because especially when one keeps in reasonably good health it's
quite easy to forget. So all right what do these questions say?
Bhante, could you state in practical terms what we as an Order must do to survive
you. (Laughter)
Well it's simple you just have to go on living! (laughter) The survivor is simply the one who
lives longer so I'm pretty certain that the Order will survive me because most of you are
younger than me. There are one or two who are older, and whom I may survive, but most of
you are certainly going to survive me. But clearly the question doesn't just mean that and my
answer doesn't just mean that because if you want to survive me, well yes, you'll have to go
on living but you'll have to go on living spiritually. I mean this is the great thing.
So the question says could you state in practical terms what we as an Order must do to
survive you. Well clearly just go on living spiritually, go on doing all the things you're doing
at present but just do them more effectively, do them more fully, do them more deeply, do
them more sincerely. Meditate better, study better, practice the dharma in every possible way
better. Communicate better, work harder, be more sincere, be more faithful, be more loyal to
one another. Think less of yourself, think more of others, think more of the movement, think
more of the needs of the world. Be more objective. These are the things that you as an Order
have to do to survive me in any meaningful sense. In other words to survive spiritually and to
be a flourishing and growing spiritual movement long long after I've gone, wherever ...

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