English Translation Fellows
"It could perhaps be said that the appearance of such an authentic master in the perceptions of the disciple is the final and most perfect apparition of the disciple’s Buddha-nature projected into outer experience. It is the culmination of a long and converging process at the end of which the outer and inner gurus finally coincide. It is a moment of revelation when the disciple inwardly recognizes the nature of the mind and outwardly experiences a spontaneous, uncontrived conviction that his or her teacher is Buddha indeed. The face of the inner guru is revealed, and the minds of the master and disciple mingle inseparably together. There are many accounts of this extraordinary event to be found in the lives of the great practitioners of the past.
For Nyingmapas, Guru Rinpoche is the archetype of such a teacher, the ‘perfect teacher’ who is able to place the disciple directly in the enlightened state. In a very real sense, he is our own Buddha-nature. ‘Meditate upon the Guru,’ Yeshe Tsogyal once said, ‘as the glow of your awareness.’ This is doubtless why Guru Rinpoche appears in the world as such a marvelous figure, totally transcending the limitations of ordinary humanity. He concentrates within himself all the enlightened qualities of self-arisen wisdom, our Buddha-nature, which is ever present beyond the confines of space and time.
It may be that some people who feel drawn to Buddhist teachings have yet to meet a fully qualified teacher. Others, for whom this meeting has occurred, may still need to refine their way of seeing their teacher to the point where the master-disciple relationship becomes meaningful in the way that we have tried to describe. Until that moment comes, one is encouraged to practice the guru-yoga using Guru Rinpoche as the meditative support.
If practitioners have sufficient confidence in their own teacher in this present life, it is of course possible, and indeed very effective, to practice this yoga in relation to them, visualizing them as they appear in ordinary life." —Helena Blankleder and Wulstan Fletcher, from the Translators’ Introduction to White Lotus, Jamgön Mipham
Degree in Modern Languages; professional translator; completed two three-year retreats at Chanteloube, France, 1980–1985 and 1986–1989; member of the Padmakara Translation Group, Dordogne, France. Tsadra Foundation Fellow since 2001.
On her first retreat, Helena Blankleder occupied her practice breaks by reading, in Tibetan, the biography of Yeshe Tsogyal. “I loved it, and so I wanted to translate it.” This initial inspiration towards translation was so powerful that Helena eventually translated the biography into both English and French. As for keeping her inspiration aflame over the years, she says that it is “important to have these texts translated for people who are really interested; it’s wonderful.” At the same time she modestly claims that, when translating, she is “just struggling through all the time.”
Such purported struggles do not appear to be in vain, especially given that Helena insists upon always working towards conveying to her readers the real meaning of Dharma literature. “Always go for the meaning,” she says. The actual meaning should always take precedence over literal word for word renderings. Consequently, a deep and careful study of the text naturally precedes any translation, and she’s grateful for Tsadra Foundation’s invaluable support “because now it comes together: to be able to study and translate properly. It would have been impossible without this help.”
Helena believes that translation work is best when supported by personal practice. She suggests that perhaps her translating career may be drawing (slowly, we trust) to a conclusion, but she nonetheless retains her zeal for offering excellent translations of the sometimes challenging body of Tibetan Buddhist texts, noting that “it’s the basis” for Western practitioners now and in the future.
Completed Projects as a Tsadra Foundation Fellow (with Wulstan Fletcher)
• Treasury of Precious Qualities (Sutra Section), Jigme Lingpa, commentary by Longchen Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur Rinpoche
• Counsels from My Heart, Dudjom Rinpoche
• Introduction to the Middle Way, Chandrakirti, commentary by Jamgön Mipham
• The Adornment of the Middle Way, Shantarakshita, commentary by Jamgön Mipham
• Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat, Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol
• The Way of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva (rev. ed.)
• The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva’s “Way of the Bodhisattva,” Kunzang Pelden
• The Root Stanzas on the Middle Way, Nagarjuna
• White Lotus: An Explanation of the Seven-line Prayer to Guru Padmasambhava, Jamgön Mipham
• Treasury of Precious Qualities (Tantra Section), Jigme Lingpa, commentary by Longchen
Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur Rinpoche
Current Projects as a Tsadra Foundation Fellow (with Wulstan Fletcher)
• Sems Nyid Ngal gSo, Longchenpa
English Translation Program