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偶翻三句,竟是金玉良言

 
◎ 文正後 文
美國•加州

中午吃過午餐,匆匆準備上課,突然一位皮膚黝黑的居士上來,問我(用英文),說可不可以幫他翻譯幾句話?我正急,說OK,可否給我一兩天,等我上完課再說。

等我上完課,我再想找那位居士,已無蹤影。我心婸﹛G「你不急,我也不跟你急。」就把那張紙帶回「如來寺」(註:萬佛聖城男眾區)。晚上一躺下,一看這幾句話,呵!不多啊,我這就給你翻完。

翻譯完後,細細玩味:嗯,還真有些意思,跟修行的道理很一致,不是嗎!?我甚至都可以拿來教學生啊。這三句是哪三句?請看:

1) Focus is the discipline of deep concentration to achieve a clear understanding
 of a fixed subject.

 專注,在於調心而得深定;得定,才能對事澄澈明瞭。

2) Discipline is something you practice over and over and over.
 律身之要,在於行持,持之再持。

3) As the twig bends, the tree inclines.
 防微乃可杜漸,一葉便能知秋。

那位居士是星期一來問我,直到星期四他才在大齋堂出現;我將中文翻譯呈給正忙於吃飯的他,然後又是匆匆忙忙地上課去了。

課後我從法師那兒,才知道這位居士來自加勒比海的島國──特加尼達和多巴哥;去過臺灣,對佛教與中華文化產生濃厚的興趣。這次他們夫婦帶著四歲的孩子來看我們學校,準備於因緣成熟時,把孩子送來我們學校唸書。

他在「特國」教武術;教華人孩子時,他一直想鼓勵他們上進,就在武術館門前寫著這幾句英文,他總想把它們變成中文。那天他一定是想:「看看今天有機會,逮個人來問……」沒想這下撞上我。

緣雖只一面,但給我的是一種鼓勵與鞭策,這三句可成我的座右銘!

至於翻譯,也只是拋磚引玉,希望各位大德能多多指正(尤其是第一句話,翻的不是很理想)。

 
As the twig bends...
 
◎ by Zheng-Hou Wen
 

I finished lunch, hurried to the teachers’ office in the Boys School, and prepared to begin teaching the AP-Chinese class. Suddenly a dark-skinned man, in his thirties, appeared in front of me. He asked me very politely, “Could you...please...help me translate these few sentences?” and handed me a piece of paper. I was in haste and answered, “...Sorry, not now, how about giving me one or two days?” (hinting that I could help him after I finished my teaching).

When the class was over, he was out of sight, and could not be found. I told myself, “You were not in a hurry, why bother to hurry?” I brought the piece of paper the dark-skinned man had given me into the Tathagata Monastery and laid it aside.

After I finished a whole day's monastic schedule and retired into my quarters, I opened the paper, read it, and thought, "My goodness, just three sentences?! That being the case, I could have done it much earlier rather than waiting this late into the night. If you were here, I could give you the translation in five minutes."

I finished the translation and started to savor these three sentences, “Mmm, very meaningful, axiom-like, and pithy...” I asked myself, “Isn’t it the case that all these three sentences reflect the same principles as our cultivation? I can even use the three sentences in teaching my students.”

What are these sentences? They are as follows:

1) Focus is the discipline of deep concentration to achieve a clear understanding
 of a fixed subject.

2) Discipline is something you practice over and over and over.

3) As the twig bends, the tree inclines.

It was on Monday that this layperson approached me and it wasn’t until Thursday that he reappeared in the Great Dining Hall. I gave him the translation while he was eating and hurried to my Chinese class, in the same manner as I did on Monday, without having a chance to sit down to have a chat with him.

Later I heard from the Dharma Master that he is from a Caribbean country called Trinidad and Tobago. He had been to Taiwan and had hence developed a sincere interest in Chinese culture and Buddhism. This time he and his wife brought their four year-old son to see our schools because he was thinking of sending the son to attend our schools once he meets the age requirement. He, himself, is a martial art coach, and had some catchphrases or adages written on the outside wall of his martial art stadium.

Since he loves learning Chinese and also has some Chinese-speaking students, he had been thinking about putting these sentences into Chinese so as to have a more powerful impact on these students. So, there he was, and when he approached me, he must have thought, “Today I am going to catch someone, and ask him to help me translate these sentences.” By sheer coincidence, I was caught.

It seems I only had a nodding acquaintance with him, but his three sentences gave me a slight jolt too: I must discipline myself and be vigilant.

As far as the translation is concerned, I am just “casting out a brick” in order to “draw forth a jade.” Hopefully those greatly virtuous ones can help me improve the translation.

p.s.I am not actually 100% satisfied with the translation of the first sentence, yet at the present time, I cannot find a better one.

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