Vietnamese Translation Team Interview (1)
Reported by LC
On Dec. 30, the last weekend of 2023 and while welcoming the year, a virtual interview with the Vietnamese Translation Team (VTT) was arranged online via Zoom. The interviewees, Lianhua Yulan and Lianhua Yingjun, live in New Zealand and are the primary members of the VTT. Linahua Yulan and Lianhua Wende, who live in Vietnam and assist in local distribution affairs, were also present during the interview.
This interview highlighted how very fortunate Grandmaster’s Chinese disciples are! Grandmaster propagates the Dharma in Chinese, which makes listening, reading, and writing far easier than it is for non-Chinese speaking disciples. Esoteric Buddhist teachings can be difficult to fully comprehend, and understanding these teachings is even more difficult for non-Chinese speaking disciples. Currently in the True Buddha School, Dharma propagation in English and Indonesian is more developed. Therefore, disciples using other languages must try and work together. Hopefully, this interview will help everyone understand that a group of disciples have pledged to translate the True Buddha Tantric Dharma into Vietnamese and are working hard behind the scenes.
The VTT goes by the name Upala, which is Sanskrit for the Upala flower. There are currently four members on the team. The main translators are Lianhua Yuling and Lianhua Yingjun. They are a married couple and cultivation companions who have dedicated themselves to translating the True Buddha Tantric Dharma into Vietnamese. During the interview, it was evident that Lianhua Yuling had better communication skills in Chinese than Lianhua Yingjun, who was always smiling and reminding Lianhua Yuling of anything she overlooked. Lianhua Yuling recalled: "In 2018, I saw that Master Shi Lianzhao intended to promote the True Buddha Tantric Dharma in Vietnamese. We hired translators, but the results fell short of our standards.” After talking it over, they informed Master Lianzhao they could help out with translation, and they have been translating ever since.
Upala started with translating Grandmaster’s books. Since publishing books was difficult at the time, only loose pages were offered to fellow disciples as they became available. Later, Upala began publishing books in cooperation with TBBOYEH. Fellow disciples sponsored publishing costs, and a print run was made whenever a minimum amount of translated work was available. Aside from translating new books, Upala started to translate the Grandmaster’s older books whenever they were scheduled to be reprinted. To date, 80 volumes of Grandmaster’s corpus have been translated into Vietnamese, along with Grandmaster’s discourse on the Vajra Sutra and various talismans. In addition, Ayushmat Changzhi suggested that Upala give translation priority to books considered essential for new students such as Ultimate Teaching of True Buddha Tantras, Secrets of the True Buddha Sadhana, An Overview of Buddhadharma, The Great Accomplishment of Rainbow Light, etc.
In addition to Grandmaster’s books, Upala has subtitled videos of Grandmaster’s discourses. To date, nearly 1,000 subtitled videos have been produced. To help promote Grandmaster’s corpus to Vietnamese readers, a video by TBBOYEH introducing Grandmaster's most recent book will also be subtitled in Vietnamese.
Upala also translates articles published on official TBS websites, such as True Buddha Foundation (TBF) publications, TBF announcements, True Buddha sadhanas, temple introductions, True Buddha Dharma-character introductions of various deities, etc. Upala will also assist with translation in connection with the True Buddha Administrative Network website which is currently available in four languages: Chinese, English, Indonesian, and Vietnamese.
Translation Process, Confidence in Translation
Q: How does the Upala translation process work?
A: Lianhua Yingjun proofreads Lianhua Yuling’s translation, then the two will review it again back and forth and discuss any questions or issues. Originally, finished translations were given to Master Linzhao for review. At present, because Master Lianzhao has his hands full with important Dharma affairs, the couple complete the review process on their own.
Q: If there is a problem translating certain passages, who can you turn to for help?
A: "We have both always loved reading. We have excellent academic backgrounds, a strong foundation in literature, and outstanding language proficiency. Moreover, we have an appreciation for Chinese culture. Therefore, I’m confident that even though we currently only have two main translators, we can handle the work. We began learning Chinese at an early age, and have studied related knowledge intensively. Over nearly 30 years of learning Buddhism, Lianhua Yingjun has studied many Buddhist sects. He is also quite knowledgeable about Hinduism and Western religions, which also helps him with translation." Lianhua Yuling and Lianhua Yingjun have enhanced their knowledge by reading many ancient books on Buddhism, as well as books on Feng Shui and Buddhist culture. If something is difficult to understand, they research all available sources before discussing it.
How do fellow Vietnamese disciples stay up to date on information released by TBF?
Most Vietnamese disciples don't read or understand Chinese, so information must be conveyed through translation. Also, former methods of reading have been replaced by audio and video. Currently, Upala is promoted through three main channels:
How to balance volunteer translation and real living expenses
Q: Regarding realistic economic issues, how do you balance voluntary translation against living expenses?
A: Lianhua Yuling gave a somewhat serious answer: Upala has many projects which she hopes to implement, such as promoting audio books. However, due to insufficient funding, she is still unable to implement these plans. About two years ago, Grandmaster mentioned on his Dharma throne that he would soon depart this world. At that time, Vietnamese disciples were very sad to hear this because they had only just come into contact with Grandmaster and the True Buddha Tantric Dharma. With a strong hope that fellow disciples in Vietnam would have more opportunities to come into contact with the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, she proposed the idea of translating to Lianhua Yingjun and gained his support for the plan. She then quit her job and began translating on a full-time basis, while Lianhua Yingjun worked to support his family financially. However, since Lianhua Yingjun's income has been greatly affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has recently started working again. Therefore, they can only translate in their spare time.
Due to family responsibilities, Lianhua Yuling can translate for about 3-4 hours a day, and since Lianhua Yingjun is very busy at work, she can only edit and review for 1-2 hours a day. Fortunately, their three children are very well-behaved. Lianhua Yuling explained to the children that the work their parents are doing will benefit many Vietnamese. So even though they sacrifice time spent together with their children, the children do not complain. In fact, the children have become more independent and more willing to learn Chinese.
The couple is very grateful for Grandmaster’s blessings. The support of their children has made it possible for them to devote themselves to translation.
TBF has approved the issue of a Vietnamese version of TBS joss paper. Funds generated from the sale of joss paper are to be used mainly to facilitate the work of translation. The Vietnamese joss paper was reviewed by TBF and approved and blessed by Grandmaster. Whether dedicated to buddhas, bodhisattvas, ancestors, etc., it will have great merit.
From the time they started translating into Vietnamese in 2018 up to the present day, the biggest difficulty the couple has encountered is insufficient time and manpower. The four members of Upala have to work to support their families and are very busy. Therefore, they are only able to translate when they have free time. However, their heartfelt wish is that more Vietnamese fellow disciples can come into contact with the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, so they are doing their best.
Lianhua Yuling said sincerely: Many Vietnamese fellow students eagerly seek supernatural powers, lack wisdom and good judgment, and believe the exaggerations of those who claim to have magical powers. Although TBF makes informational announcements available on its official website, unfortunately, most Vietnamese disciples are unable to read Chinese. They don’t know how to check the official website and can’t understand the language. They are unable to learn Grandmaster’s teachings or absorb correct knowledge and views. For this reason, translating into Vietnamese is even more important.
Upala once paid for translators, but the results were unsatisfactory and they gave up. Lianhua Yuling sincerely hopes to have more time for translation, and hopes that one or two people will be able to translate full-time. It is really meaningful to be able to spend time translating Buddhist works.
Reflections on working as a translator
Lianhua Yuling answered with great joy: "I feel very blessed to translate Grandmaster’s corpus. It’s truly an honor. I am very happy and lucky.
To me, translating Grandmaster’s books is like talking to Grandmaster. Although I have little opportunity to meet Grandmaster, by translating everyday and editing videos with subtitles, I feel very close to Grandmaster. It is a warm and very intimate feeling."
Lianhua Yingjun expressed: "I feel sorry that my time is occupied with work and I wish I had more time for translation."
It turns out that Lianhua Yingjun has been fond of spiritual practice ever since he was young. He started reading various religious books, including books on Buddhism, at the age of 15. When he was in his 20s, he began to practice Vajrayana, primarily Tibetan Vajrayana. At that time, he came into contact with Grandmaster’s corpus, and the first book he read was Book 148, The Power of Mantra. This book made a deep impression on him. He then began to look into Grandmaster and what kind of sect the True Buddha School was. In the process of searching for a guru, he took refuge in many masters. He kept looking until he met Grandmaster and recognized him as his Root Guru. He hopes to have more time for practice and translation, and is working to bring Grandmaster’s Buddhist teachings to Vietnam, so that more Vietnamese fellow disciples can understand Grandmaster and the extraordinary True Buddha Tantric Dharma.
Finally, Lianhua Yuling said that they do not deceive others or themselves, and understand their own abilities. They feel that failing to use their abilities for cultivation or translation would be a waste. Lianhua Yuling says she did not study Buddhism or know Buddhadharma before, but got to know Grandmaster after marrying Lianhua Yingjun, who introduced her to the True Buddha Tantric Dharma. She subsequently took refuge in Grandmaster.
At this point in the interview, the reporter was deeply moved by the dedication of this couple. Their only goal is to make more time so they may translate more books, TBF announcements, explanations of a practice, etc., so that Vietnamese disciples will have an opportunity to learn about True Buddha Tantric Dharma. As a result, the wisdom of fellow Vietnamese practitioners will be enhanced and they will no longer blindly pursue supernatural powers. At the same time, they are calling on more people to participate in Vietnamese translation, because Vietnamese disciples are in great need of this.