You are far from the end of your journey. The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. See how you love.

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. New Member


    I am helping a friend translate a Buddhist poem/saying into Chinese and poetic structure is not my strength. Would the following be a decent translation? How could I improve it?


    You are far from the end of your journey.
    The way is not in the sky.
    The way is in the heart.
    See how you love.



  2. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Since long long ago, most Buddhist scriptures have already been translated and edited into Chinese directly from whatever language it was written, professionals will try to find its origional translation, not to translate them from English versions which are usually more modern.
    When finding earlier translations are too hard, it's ok to translate by ourselves, if it's not an academic essay. But the meanings will be less close to the original ones, and it's hard to immitate the classic styles...
  3. New Member

    Thanks, would you know where to find an authentic translation? I cannot seem to find one anywhere.
  4. tarlou Senior Member

    Buddhist poems are extremely difficult. It is not as superficial as it looks like. The Chinese Translations were done typically by great monks so there are difficult philosophy concepts rather than simply "way", "love", etc.

    Here are two versions I found (there are more actually)




    Here is an introduction for the whole book.法句經

    You can google those versions. They are not sectioned in the same way as the English version nor the original version.
  5. New Member

    Thank you very much. I am familiar with the Dhammapada. I have very little experience with ancient poetry like this. Would you mind explaining a little bit how this corresponds to the English translation? I feel like I have no idea what's going on in this Chinese version.
  6. tarlou Senior Member

    I don't quite understand it myself. I found it just by the corresponding section numbers and keywords. (I think your verse is in Chapter 18 impurities, verse number 254. I was totally wrong if this is not the case.)

    I'll explain just according to my personal understanding, may be very wrong.

    虚=void,空=empty,无=has no,辄迹=trace of a wheel
    This is saying the way to the goal is not in "empty", or "the way is not in the sky".

    沙门=a Buddhist word I don't quite understand, but I think it refers to the correct way
    This is saying "the way is not from the outside", or "the way is in the heart".

    众人=people,尽=尽情=do as much as one likes,乐=happy,love,
    Normal people may love or hate a lot. (This is the wrong way.)

    Buddha,净=clean,秽=dirty things
    While Buddha has no dust. (Love and hate are dusts of one's soul. This sentence is giving the right way.)

    I didn't find the corresponding translation for the first sentence "You are far from the end of your journey." I think it is probably just giving the background: here we are talking about the long journey of "understanding the world and life".
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  7. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Like tarlou has mentioned, there're some difficulties, if you are really looking for a decent version.

    1. Buddhism has been introduced and modified in China through different channels in different eras, thus there exist many different versions and interpretations of scriptures.
    There must be many different versions in English too. They could be greatly varied from the Chinese versions, even originally from one same piece.

    2. Buddhist teachings are usually vague and mystical. The poems are especially so. Chinese will use special terms for Buddhist teachings, such as the ones you read in tarlou’s quote. You almost never see some common words like “you”, “love” in Chinese versions, and I think there are reasons for all of these.
    For example, Buddhism would not actively tell you “what you should do”, personally and clearly, it tends to enlighten you with its truth. That’s why you’ll hardly find “you” in Chinese versions.
    And the normal “love” is only considered as one form of “desire” in Buddhism, that’s why it’s seldom talked individually. I think it usually talks about “desires” as a whole.
  8. New Member

    Thank you very much! This is very helpful. I am going to spend some time with the Chinese versions and try to begin to understand how they break down.

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