Ocean seal

I can't believe I never read this before: Translating Dōgen, by Carl Bielefeldt, co-editor of the Soto Zen Translation Project. This is not one of those essays about how translation is really hard, man, with a few challenging lexemes thrown in as examples. Bielefeldt really digs into his topic. Here he is after his first example from Ocean Seal Samādhi:

Here, in Dōgen's view, the ocean seal samādhi is not just about the Buddha sitting under the bodhi tree in total enlightenment, or about us sitting on our meditation cushions tripping out on the universe; it’s about everything that's going on around us all the time, about us already embedded in, interacting with, what's going on. It's about the self as the practice of reaching out to others and letting ourselves be touched by them. I don't know about you, but I like this passage. This is the kind of Dōgen I really like.

Unfortunately, this is not what Dōgen actually said in his Ocean Seal Samādhi. I called it "Dōgen's view" of the samādhi, but it's really Carl's personal view of what Dōgen meant to say about the samādhi. That's probably why I like it: it's my homemade commentary on the text, not a translation. Here's a translation of what he actually said.

As far as I know, Bielefeldt is still working on Dōgen more than a decade later. I wonder how his views have evolved.

Popularity factor: 4

Vilhelm S:

Wow, this really is awesome. From just unannotated the English translation, I would never have guessed that the source text was intertextual in this way.

Btw, is it just me or are the Soto Zen Translation Project pds (e.g. http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/translations/shobogenzo/translations/kaiin_zanmai/PDF/Kaiin%20zanmai%20translation.pdf) not displaying correctly? I see the kana, but all the kanji seem garbled.


Hmm, no, looks basically okay to me on iOS/OS X. Must be a font or encoding issue -- I wouldn't expecr an academic translation project that (AIUI) did most of its work before 2010 to be using best practices technically speaking.

Vilhelm S:

I checked again, it seems that the MacOS Preview application renders them fine, but the built-in pdf reader in Firefox garbles them somehow.



Aime la vérité, mais pardonne à l'erreur

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