Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?

You prefer traductions of Thanissaro Bhikkhu or Bhikkhu Bodhi ?

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
17
39%
Bhikkhu Bodhi
27
61%
 
Total votes: 44

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:30 am

Greetings,
Cittasanto wrote:This is true, however I feel some of Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.
Agreed.

The best feature of Bodhi's work is his fluency of language (and I think he gets away with more than he should, on account of it).

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:45 am

I prefer Bhikkhu Bodhi's scholarship, clarity about the various possibilities of interpretation, and writing style. Thanissaro Bhikkhu does give some interesting food for thought with his particular interpretations, but I sometimes find his writing style rather difficult.

:anjali:
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:I prefer Bhikkhu Bodhi's scholarship, clarity about the various possibilities of interpretation, and writing style. Thanissaro Bhikkhu does give some interesting food for thought with his particular interpretations, but I sometimes find his writing style rather difficult.

:anjali:
Mike
Ven Bodhi is simply a better over all translator.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by cooran » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I prefer Bhikkhu Bodhi's scholarship, clarity about the various possibilities of interpretation, and writing style. Thanissaro Bhikkhu does give some interesting food for thought with his particular interpretations, but I sometimes find his writing style rather difficult.

:anjali:
Mike
Ven Bodhi is simply a better over all translator.
absolutely agree. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a better scholar and translator. I'd trust him over all.

with metta
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:16 am

Andrew Olendski's review of In the Buddha's Words
http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display ... yValue=104" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Specifically here: http://downloads.wisdompubs.org/website ... Review.pdf
Starting with its context, we might say
that this anthology is a capstone to one
of the three English translations of the
Tipitaka, or Pali Canon, that are currently
available, each of which has its particular
strengths and limitations.

The first consists of the
Pali Text Society translations
which have been generated over the past
century by some of Buddhism’s foremost
scholars, including T. W. Rhys Davids
and his wife Caroline Rhys Davids, I. B.
Horner, F. L. Woodward, and E. M. Hare.
There is, however, much diversity in their
rendering of technical vocabulary (e.g.,
are asavas Deadly Floods, cankers, Drugs
or Poisons, intoxicants, influxes, or efflu-
ents?), and an antiquated feel to some of
the English usage (e.g., “Yea, as thou
say’st then wast thou, Bhaggava!”). There
is also some question about whether the
“academic objectivity” of a brilliant,
Christian, nonmeditating linguist is the
best mode in which to attempt to render
material of such subtle interiority as the
Buddha’s dhamma.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu is gradually work-
ing towards an alternative English transla-
tion of the Pali Canon, and each new text
he translates is published for free distribu-
tion and placed on the Internet (accessto-
insight.org) for free downloading. Because
of their preference for working in cyber-
space, the younger generation of dhamma
enthusiasts is widely using this version of
the Tipitaka. But those more familiar with
the vernacular that is current in dhamma
circles struggle with some of his idiosyn-
cratic word choices (e.g., “stress” for
dukkha, “frame of reference” for satipat-
thana, “Unbinding” for nibbana). It’s not
to say that these are not excellent choices
once one understands the reasoning, but
unless or until his canon becomes more
widely adopted, many readers will tend to
stub their toes upon some of these terms.
Thanissaro clearly knows his tradition
well, and adds to his work the important
dimension of experiential depth.

The third English translation of the Pali
Canon consists largely, but not exclusively,
of the texts put out by Wisdom Publi-
cations in the last decade or so. Walshe’s
Long Discourses, Nanamoli’s Middle
Length Discourses, and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s
Connected Discourses and Numerical
Discourses, along with some freelance
translations from the fifth Nikaya, or
collection, have come to form a coherent
and reasonably consistent body of work
of considerable usefulness to the modern
reader. The translations in this series ben-
efit from solid Pali scholarship, lucid con-
temporary English prose, and the sensitive
understanding of seasoned meditation
practitioners. In the Buddha’s Words is an
anthology drawing primarily on these first
four Nikayas, and manages quite success-
fully to both summarize them and extract
their essence.
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by DAWN » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:44 pm

Fluidity of Ven Bodhi's speach is a good kamma fruit.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:34 pm

Having thought about this a little, it occurs to me that it might be interesting to discuss in what areas the translations (and footnotes/commentary on the translations) by Vens. Thanissaro and Bodhi disagree. Though they have different writing styles, and pick different words for the translation of Pali terms, both seem to me to take a fairly standard Theravada view on most doctrinal aspects, such as kamma, rebirth, and dependent origination (neither advocate a "one life only" interpretation of dependent origination, for example).

The interpretation of some particular issues, notably anatta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... tml#anatta" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and papanca http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html, are the main points of difference that I can recall. Are there others, and do they influence the translation?

:anjali:
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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by DNS » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:52 pm

Ven. Thanissaro translates dukha as "stress." Personally, I prefer the more traditional translation of "suffering" or "unsatisfactory."

For readability, I prefer Bhikkhu Bodhi.

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:57 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Ven. Thanissaro translates dukha as "stress." Personally, I prefer the more traditional translation of "suffering" or "unsatisfactory."

For readability, I prefer Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Honestly, Thanissaro's choice of "stress" for dukkha is a good example of his penchant for choosing a word that is accurate in denotation but somewhat unsatisfactory as an actual term. He's a little too academic in that respect, at least for me.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

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Re: Which translation do you prefer: V Thanissaro or V Bodhi's ?

Post by Hanzze » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:42 am

DAWN wrote:Fluidity of Ven Bodhi's speach is a good kamma fruit.
In addition some explainings in regard of Dhammadesna are maybe helpful and fruitful in this discussion:
9. Dhamma Desana (Preaching Dhamma)

Dhamma desana means preaching the Dhamma. If done with sincerity and magnanimity, preaching the Dhamma excels all other forms of Dana. The Buddha himself said, "Sabbha Danam dhammaDanam jinati - Preaching the Dhamma is the highest charity". To really achieve true dhamma desana kusala (good deed of preaching the Dhamma), the preacher must not expect gifts, offertories, fame of false pride. If so, the greed (lobha) for such material gain contaminates and diminishes the merits gained from preaching. Then the preacher will be like a foolish man who exchanged a hundred-thousand worth of sandalwood with a pitcher of stale molasses.

Maxim: As the foolish man traded a hundred-thousand worth of sandalwood with some stale molasses; the ignoble preacher teachers the priceless Dhamma in exchange for some petty material gain.

Qualification of a Preacher

A qualified preacher is no ordinary orator. He possess a clear and forceful voice; he must have ability to make others understand him clearly. So a preacher is hard to find. Although there are one thousand cows in a ranch, only one of them will bear forth a flawless bull-calf. Likewise thousands of mothers fail to give birth to a great preacher. A great preacher is indeed a rarity.

The Disadvantage Of Improper Intonation

Qualified teacher should be aware of their virtuous kamma of their past lives; when reciting the Noble Dhamma taught by the Buddha, the preacher must orate with a clear, manly voice. He must not willfully attempt to make his voice pleasant by means of improper accent, stress, intonation or elocution.

The Buddha himself pointed out the disadvantages of improper manipulation of speech sounds, making them sweet, to resemble singing while preaching the Dhamma. They are: (a) one become lustful of one's own voice; (b) the audience find lustful pleasure in the preacher's voice; (c) the preacher is blamed for singing like lay persons; (d) the preacher loses concentration while exerting oneself to produce sweet voice (e) the next generation of monks will emulate this indecent style.

Nowadays, these disadvantages can be experienced in many occasions. The younger monks are already following the wrong examples set by the indecent preachers. The pious are seldom present at discourses conducted by such bogus preachers. Those who attend the lectures only perfunctorily do not pay attention to the discourses. The educated class, through desirous of listening to the Dhamma, feel ashamed to be present at the lecture of such vulgar preachers.

It is imperative should have enough decency not to make melodies out of the priceless Dhamma. It is shameful mode of oration.
as well the Conglusion of the book, which also points out some general important aspects (not that much in regard of a person but in regard of intention and its results)
Conclusion

The Reader's Duty

I have done my part in writing this "Abhidhamma In Daily Life" dealing with Dhamma aspects, which the general reader should know, in their everyday relationship. Having gained useful knowledge from this treatise, it is the duty of the general reader to put the knowledge so gained into practical use by developing mindfulness, self-restraint and earnest endeavor.

Knowledge and Practice

Knowledge is not practice. Mere knowledge is useless. Books can offer knowledge but cannot practice for the reader. There are many who are literate, who have gathered much useful knowledge on the practice of Dhamma but very few uses, such knowledge to one's advantage. In the midst of majority of such people in the world, chances are slim to foster good, righteous mind.

For example, many deeds of Dana are performed nowadays not with view of accumulate parami merits but to keep in line with social trend of showing off, vaunting their success and wealth for all to see; people no longer follow the path of parami laid down by noble, virtuous ones. The social climbers, in deed, know their Dana will bear no good fruit or very little, but because of their strong craving for popular acclamation, social acceptance and recognition, they sink to the level of doing deeds that the ignorant people do even though they know they should not.

The Wily Tiger

Here is a story from Hitopadesa - to illustrate my point - a wily tiger was too old to catch his prey. One day he kept calling loudly, "Oh travelers! Come and take this gold bangle." A traveler heard this call, so he approached the tiger and asked, "Where is the gold bangle?"

The old wily tiger showed the gold bangle in his paws. The traveler said he dared not come near him who used to be a man-eater.. Then the wily old tiger preached him a sermon as follows, "In my younger days I kill and eat human beings because I was not fortunate enough to listen to the Dhamma. As I grow older and lost my wife and children. I really felt samvega. At the time I happened to meet with a noble person who taught me to live a virtuous life making deeds of Dana. Since then I have been living a strictly righteous life. You have nothing to be afraid of. I am harmless. See, I don't even have claws and fangs. I have resolved to give this gold bangle to someone as charity, and you are the lucky one. Go bathe in the lake and come accept my gift.

Believing these persuasive words, the traveler did what he was told. When he stepped into the lake he sank into the swamp. Saying that he would help him, the tiger came and devoured the traveler.

This story from Hitopadesa gives us a moral lesson that mere knowledge is useless without morality. Educated and intelligent persons without morality endowed with cunning, charm and cleverness at deceiving can be more dangerous than the ignorant, because they possess the knowledge to succumb wicked deeds. I would like to advise the readers not to be contended with mere knowledge, but to practice what they have digested so that they may become really virtuous persons. Here I conclude wishing you all again a long life.

Versified epilogue rendered in simple prose:

To bring this treatise to a close, here are some pertinent remarks in brief: In this modern age, although there are Bhikkhus as well as laity with resolution to strive for attainment of Nibbána, unless the mind is intrinsically pure, they will still be far away from the Sublime State they long for.

Therefore, beginning with myself, all my companions, close associates and generations to come, who wish to reach the blissful peace of Nibbána realized by our Noble Predecessors, should study this treatise of Abhidhamma In Daily Life carefully, precisely, meticulously, and strive with full diligence accordingly so as to attain the supreme height, to become the great conqueror, the glorious victor.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Sylvester » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:58 am

Cittasanto wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:I've always felt like Thanissaro gets to the heart of the scholarly meaning[.... ...]Bodhi for a nice balance of scholarly rigor and clear, precise language.
This is true, however I feel some of Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.

When you consider just how tightly packed the suttas are with compounds, one can hardly fault BB for looking to the Commentaries to unpack the compounds. Save for the main subject/object denoted by the last lexeme in the compound, one could struggle for a long time trying to figure out what type of compound it is, and what sort of inflections to read into the lemmas that make up the rest of the compound.

Thank goodness I finally found Anuruddha's "Dictionary of Pali Idioms" to unbundle quirky expressions and off-grammar idioms...

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Buckwheat » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:41 pm

Sylvester wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:I've always felt like Thanissaro gets to the heart of the scholarly meaning[.... ...]Bodhi for a nice balance of scholarly rigor and clear, precise language.
This is true, however I feel some of Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.

When you consider just how tightly packed the suttas are with compounds, one can hardly fault BB for looking to the Commentaries to unpack the compounds. Save for the main subject/object denoted by the last lexeme in the compound, one could struggle for a long time trying to figure out what type of compound it is, and what sort of inflections to read into the lemmas that make up the rest of the compound.

Thank goodness I finally found Anuruddha's "Dictionary of Pali Idioms" to unbundle quirky expressions and off-grammar idioms...
Did Cittasanto mean that not only on the level of word choices but also meaning?
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:39 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: This is true, however I feel some of Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings to be better, and Bodhi sides with the commentaries more.
When you consider just how tightly packed the suttas are with compounds, one can hardly fault BB for looking to the Commentaries to unpack the compounds. Save for the main subject/object denoted by the last lexeme in the compound, one could struggle for a long time trying to figure out what type of compound it is, and what sort of inflections to read into the lemmas that make up the rest of the compound.

Thank goodness I finally found Anuruddha's "Dictionary of Pali Idioms" to unbundle quirky expressions and off-grammar idioms...
Did Cittasanto mean that not only on the level of word choices but also meaning?
Hi Sylvester,
not saying he is at fault for doing so in any way, I wasn't referring to word for word translations with Bodhi. I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning, not the grammars which you seam to be referring to.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Sylvester » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:41 am

Cittasanto wrote: Hi Sylvester,
not saying he is at fault for doing so in any way, I wasn't referring to word for word translations with Bodhi. I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning, not the grammars which you seam to be referring to.

Hi hi!

I think it's important to note that while the Pali grammars will probably govern more than 90% of the meaning of an inflection, Pali retains significant traces of Vedic and other Prakritic morphologies that cannot be accounted for by the standard Pali grammars. Leave aside those examples which KR Norman shows to be the influence of Classical Sanskrit on the suttas. If you pop into Geiger, he gives an astounding list of Pali declensions that cannot be accounted for by using a Pali grammar, but can be demonstrated to be traceable to a "donor" form from Vedic or another Prakrit, which carries a different sense.

One example - tena, the instrumental for ta. Typically translated as "with that", using the standard instrumental meaning. But the form "-ena" can be shown in the donor languages to have carried a locative sense, which accounts for weird Pali phrases such as tena samayena.

Another notoriously tricky one is the genitive "-assa", which scholars acknowledge became more fashionable and overwhelmed the traditional form of the dative.

I was just reading Wijesekera's "Syntax of the cases in the Pāli Nikāyas", and he gave examples of the Comy preserving connotations, despite changing morphologies, and this is borne out by independent studies into those forms in Vedic and Prakrit.

It just goes to show that, while the grammars are very important, some readings are so ridiculous if read grammatically, that one needs to dig deeper to see if the form might have suffered stylisation. Sometimes, the Comy does a great job preserving the sense, sometimes not so great.

I get the sense that where the Comy is dealing with the grammar of narratives, this is where the Comy is usually spot-on in noting the old connotations. I'm not all that confident when it comes to the grammar of some doctrinal issues...

PS - as to -
....Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings ...
I do not think he is consistent on this. I notice that where it suits his purpose, he will render a phrase word for word, instead of acknowledging that it is actually an idiom that means something else, eg kāyena phusati with reference to the jhanas and formless attainments.

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Re: Ven Thanissaro or Ven Bodhi's translation you prefer?

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:23 pm

Hi Sylvester,
what is your point?
Sylvester wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: Hi Sylvester,
not saying he is at fault for doing so in any way, I wasn't referring to word for word translations with Bodhi. I see Bodhi siding with the commentaries more in rendering or explaining a meaning, not the grammars which you seam to be referring to.

Hi hi!

I think it's important to note that while the Pali grammars will probably govern more than 90% of the meaning of an inflection, Pali retains significant traces of Vedic and other Prakritic morphologies that cannot be accounted for by the standard Pali grammars. Leave aside those examples which KR Norman shows to be the influence of Classical Sanskrit on the suttas. If you pop into Geiger, he gives an astounding list of Pali declensions that cannot be accounted for by using a Pali grammar, but can be demonstrated to be traceable to a "donor" form from Vedic or another Prakrit, which carries a different sense.

One example - tena, the instrumental for ta. Typically translated as "with that", using the standard instrumental meaning. But the form "-ena" can be shown in the donor languages to have carried a locative sense, which accounts for weird Pali phrases such as tena samayena.

Another notoriously tricky one is the genitive "-assa", which scholars acknowledge became more fashionable and overwhelmed the traditional form of the dative.

I was just reading Wijesekera's "Syntax of the cases in the Pāli Nikāyas", and he gave examples of the Comy preserving connotations, despite changing morphologies, and this is borne out by independent studies into those forms in Vedic and Prakrit.

It just goes to show that, while the grammars are very important, some readings are so ridiculous if read grammatically, that one needs to dig deeper to see if the form might have suffered stylisation. Sometimes, the Comy does a great job preserving the sense, sometimes not so great.

I get the sense that where the Comy is dealing with the grammar of narratives, this is where the Comy is usually spot-on in noting the old connotations. I'm not all that confident when it comes to the grammar of some doctrinal issues...

PS - as to -
....Tanissaros choices for word - word renderings ...
I do not think he is consistent on this. I notice that where it suits his purpose, he will render a phrase word for word, instead of acknowledging that it is actually an idiom that means something else, eg kāyena phusati with reference to the jhanas and formless attainments.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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