The Triratna Translations Project

The vital importance and challenge of translating the Dharma

On Fri, 30 June, 2023 - 17:23
Viryabodhi's picture

This is the first article in a series of articles on translation within Triratna, by Viryabodhi, coordinator of the International Triratna Translations Board (ITTB). The next article, which will go more into the challenges, will be published within the next month or so.

Part 2 of the Article is found here:

I have been working on this for some time and hope you will enjoy reading it. If you have any questions or feedback you can write to me at: 
int.triratna.translations.board [at] 

There is both a pdf and an ePub (if you prefer reading on your mobile phone or reading device).

And now there are versions of the article in German, French, Spanish and Swedish (more to come).

Here is a short url for this post: 

with metta, Viryabodhi 

Stockholm, 30 June 2023

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sobhanandi's picture

Hi Viryabodhi, thanks for the clear article. I especially liked your pointing to the difference in being able to speak and hear English and reading and studying it for people for who English is not their first language.  I look forward to your next article


Viryabodhi's picture

Hi Sobhanandi,

Thanks for your feedback. Do spread the word, among all your Dutch friends and further afield.

I had in mind to translate it into at least Swedish with the help of DeepL Translator, and then edit. I did such a translation of an earlier version of the article and the result wasn’t too bad. I could do one to Dutch and let you or someone else edit to good Dutch, and one could check back to the original. This is probably not necessary for Dutch people, but let me know if you still would like it. Maybe it would be useful for other countries and languages.

I’m working on the second article and waiting to get feedback from Kalyanaprabha.

Best wishes, Viryabodhi 

sobhanandi's picture

Hi Viryabodhi,

Yes a translation in Dutch that could be edited would be nice, I could edit it and check and then send it out to the GFR mitras and other interested parties.



Viryabodhi's picture

Hi again Sobhanandi,

Great. I have now used up my quota of free translated documents per month on my DeepL pro account, so will have to get back to you after the Nordic Order retreat, after 31 July.

All the best, Viryabodhi 

Jnanaruchi's picture

Hi Viryabodhi, 

Thanks for writing this, a clarion call for us monoglot anglophones to be more understanding of our responsibilities towards spreading the Dharma beyond the shores of english. And you made the point very clearly and beautifully, thanks, Jnanaruchi

Viryabodhi's picture

Dear Jnanaruchi. 

I am glad it came across as such. 
Now, ‘monoglot anglophones’, I must look up that term or those two terms.

much love,


Hélène P's picture

Hi Viryabodhi,

Thank you for sharing this. As a native French speaker living in Birmingham (UK), who also happens to be a professional EN>FR translator, this topic is of high interest to me. Unfortunately, it seems that there is no just no funds available for paid Dharma translation, which would otherwise be a wonderful right livelihood opportunity for me and many others. While pro bono translation work is fine and an opportunity to practise dana in a different way, there is so little spare time to devote to this that it’s a massive limitation on the amount of translation work that can be done. So keep up the good work promoting the importance of translation!

With metta


Viryabodhi's picture

Hi Hélène,

I got the apostrophes correct there, I think.

Sorry to not have replied before to your message. When you wrote I was on retreat and it must have slipped me by after that.

Yes, I will keep beating the Dharma Drum of the importance of translation work. I believe I’m getting better at it, more confident and sure. And when people like you write and confirm my conviction I’m very happy.

Yes, I wish we had more money available for translation work. One of my thoughts – which comes out in Part 2 of the Article – is that we need to see translation as an integral part of Dharma Teaching. And I think that local situations need to discuss this and prioritise. But we also need a more collective, international (‘cross-language’) discussion where we can become clearer and hopefully act together in some way.

As you may notice, this is emergent thinking that needs to discussed. Watch this space and let me know if you have any ideas.

Actually, on the ITTB we’ve been talking about having meetings with all Translation Coordinators (TC’s) within Triratna. A TC is someone who keeps an overview and has some, maybe not all, responsibility for coordinating translations in a particular language. We’re talking about early next year for a first meeting and one topic could certainly be this, how we better prioritise translation work.

Anyway, enough for now. Thanks for writing and do keep in touch. Hav eyou read the second article? Link:

with metta, Viryabodhi