For this reason the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts has been founded in Burlingame, south of San Francisco, to carry out the translation work. Whether you are Buddhists of the northern or southern tradition, I hope that everyone can cooperate to translate the Buddhist scriptures into the world's languages. This is a very important task. We should not cause schisms among ourselves--that's only a waste of time and energy, and totally useless. When the Buddha was teaching living beings, he spoke Dharma for forty-nine years and expounded the Sutras in over three hundred assemblies. The people he taught, such as Mahamaudgalyayana, Shariputra, and Mahakashyapa, were the followers of other religions. They originally believed in other religions, but they all came to take refuge in Buddhism. So why can't we Buddhists be tolerant of one another and encourage each other to make progress? Why do we stop halfway down the road in order to denounce and criticize each other instead? Doesn't that amount to harming our own brothers?
Even though I am someone who doesn't understand any foreign languages, I dare to sponsor the translation of the Buddhist canon into all the languages of the world. This very idea of mine has already made the Buddhas happy. If someone like me who doesn't know foreign languages wants to do this, then how much the more should those who do know foreign languages apply themselves to this work with serious and diligent effort.
Of course our personal cultivation is extremely important as well. If we can cultivate and attain the Way, we can naturally be of great help to Buddhism. But still, it will only be a temporary contribution. If we can translate the Buddhist canon into the languages of the world, so that the Buddhadharma can enter every person's heart, this will be a lasting accomplishment. The propagation of the Buddhadharma is a very important mission, but translating the Buddhist canon is of even greater significance in the propagation of the Buddhadharma.
[Editor's note: In October 1990, during the Venerable Master's first Dharma tour in Europe, about fifty people from Poland took refuge with the Master and became Buddhists. Afterwards they formed a group to translate Buddhist Sutras with commentaries into Polish. So far they have translated and published the Venerable Master's commentary on the Earth Store Sutra. They are currently working on the Master's commentary of the Shurangama Sutra.]
Merging the Northern and Southern Traditions of Buddhism and Drawing in the World's Religions
A talk given on October 7, 1990, at the Amaravati Buddhist Centre outside of London, England
The Venerable Master to Venerable Ajahn Sumedho: When we get back to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we're going to change the way we do our morning recitation. We will alternate days, using Chinese and English on one day, and Pali and English the next day; we will alternate between the northern and southern styles of chanting. We want to start a new trend and gradually melt the boundaries between the Mahayana and the Theravada traditions. We want to include Catholicism, Protestantism, and all other religions, so how much more should we dissolve sectarian divisions within Buddhism.
This is the Space Age, and Buddhism is also entering a new era. We want Buddhism to encompass all religions. Within Buddhism, we should communicate among ourselves and give up our attachments to Mahayana and Theravada. We should learn from each other. At least we should learn from others what we don't know ourselves; it doesn't matter whether or not they learn from us. This is what the new era in Buddhism is all about.
[Editor's note: After its European delegation returned to the United States in November 1990, the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association actively began carrying out its mission of bringing together the northern and southern traditions of Buddhism. From February to December 1991, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas included Pali chants as part of its morning recitation. On May 3, 1991, the Sangha at the City accepted a gift of Theravadan robes and almsbowls from the Amaravati Buddhist Centre. From June 21 to July 6, 1991, a Theravadan meditation retreat was held at the City, and Theravadan monks were asked to serve as Precept Masters in the Ordination Ceremonies held in July 1991. These attest to the Association's diligent efforts to eliminate sectarian differences and promote cooperation and unity in Buddhism.]
To be continued