The Khyentse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by renowned Bhutanese lama, filmmaker and author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, announced that it has awarded this year’s Khyentse Foundation Fellowship to respected Dharma teacher and translator Erik Pema Kunsang .
The Khyentse Foundation Scholarship is the highest honor among the foundation’s four annual awards for individuals in recognition of academic excellence in Buddhist studies.
“A prolific translator, Erik has collected many books on the Dharma. Notable examples include The light of wisdom (volumes 1-5) by Padmasambhava and Jamgon Kongtrul; Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche; and mindfulness mirror, a commentary on the bardo states by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol,” the Khyentse Foundation said in an announcement shared with BDG. “We are grateful for his invaluable translation of these precious Dharma texts and for his other contributions to the field, such as his editorial work for 84000* and lately mentoring translators for the Khyentse Vision Project.** The foundation is delighted to nominate Erik as a 2022 Khyentse Fellow.”
The foundation awards four annual awards for academic achievement: Academic Excellence in Buddhist Studies; Outstanding Translation Award; Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Buddhist Studies, Europe and Asia; and the Khyentse Foundation Scholarship.
“The Khyentse Foundation Scholarship, the foundation’s highest and most esteemed award, was established in 2011 to recognize individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to preserving, promoting and defending the Buddhadharma,” explained the foundation. “Past recipients of the scholarship include Alak Zenkar Rinpoche (Tudeng Nima), Prof. Peter Skilling, Ven. Professor Dhammajoti and others.
The Khyentse Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001. Its purpose is to promote the teachings of the Buddha and to support all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation’s activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, and the development of Buddhist studies at major universities, as well as training and the development of Buddhist teachers and the development of new modes of education inspired by the Dharma. for kids.
Achievements of the Khyentse Foundation over the past 20 years include: over 15 million pages of Buddhist texts preserved and posted online; the education provided to the children of more than 1,000 families; support for Buddhist studies at more than 35 major universities through endowed chairs and professorships, support for graduates, and the establishment of centers for Buddhist studies; more than $1 million in sponsorship for Buddhist teacher training awarded; sacred Buddhist texts translated into over 15 languages, through the efforts of 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, the Kumarajiva Project, and the Khyentse Vision Project; more than $1.8 million in funding awarded to support Buddhism in its home countries, including local partnerships to revitalize interest in Buddhism in India; more than 2,000 scholarships and awards in recognition of excellence in Buddhist study and practice; supporting over 3,000 monks and nuns to maintain the tradition of Buddhist scholarship in a monastic setting; and over 120 open-access Ashoka and Trisong scholarships distributed to support Dharma and wellness programs.
In a video response honored by the Khyentse Foundation, Kunsang offered the following advice from his personal practice experiences:
What I have really focused on in this lifetime are Padmasambhava’s essential instructions. It’s like being in the same room, at his feet, when Yeshe Tsogyal’s writing comes out. To read them and try to [reflect their instructions] going back to our languages is like being in their presence. These are the most satisfying times of my life. It’s a thing.
Another translates for the great Dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who spread from his wisdom mind the Hearing Lineage of Great Perfection. I received it from start to finish, and I can’t get enough of it [teaching] for a single moment. It has been a great source of pleasure and satisfaction to help him pass this on to countless other people. . . .
When you relax within yourself and imagine your guru in your heart, you can impart – I tell all translators – the same meaning in your own language as in the original, so try to do that. And also, remember the right attitude, that this work is not for temporary benefit, it is for the lasting good of all sentient beings.
Born Erik Hein Schmidt in Denmark, Kunsang is a renowned Dharma teacher and accomplished translator of tantric texts and fundamental instructions from the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. He has translated more than 50 volumes of Tibetan texts and oral teachings. Additionally, Kunsang has been an assistant and translator to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his sons since the late 1970s, and has helped facilitate the teaching of several revered masters in the West.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche shared the following words of tribute to Erik Pema Kunsang:
Ever since I was a teenager when I was trying to learn Danish with him, I have known this man and sometimes even watched him. All the while, I noticed he didn’t wander off. He went from one great master to another, each of whom was the Buddha himself.
During all this time, this man did not waste his time but rather acquired a deep knowledge of Buddhism and subsequently became a great translator. But all this does not really move me. What moves me the most is that in my humble opinion, he has become a true Dharma practitioner. And it is very rare today, even among Tibetans.
I do not say this lightly and I had to think seriously before saying it. So, coming from someone like me with a mountain ego and pride, I hope people take my deep appreciation for Erik Pema Kunsang a bit seriously.
Born in Bhutan in 1961, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of master Nyingma Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991). It is recognized as the third incarnation of 19th century Tibetan terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959).
In addition to the Khyentse Foundation, Rinpoche’s projects include Siddhartha’s Intent, an international collective of Buddhist groups supporting Rinpoche’s Buddhadharma activities by organizing teachings and retreats, distributing and archiving recorded teachings, and transcribing, editing and translating manuscripts and practice texts; 84000, a global non-profit initiative to translate the words of the Buddha and make them accessible to everyone; Lotus Outreach, which runs a series of projects aimed at ensuring the education, health and safety of vulnerable women and children in developing countries; and Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.
* 84000 announces that 25% of Tibetan Kangyur is now available for free in English (BDG)
** The Khyentse Foundation launches a new initiative to translate the works of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (BDG)
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