Years of study let Westerners write Buddhist scriptures from heart

Minsheng Daily, July 8, 2005

Taipei, Taiwan -- A group of highly educated Westerners at the Fokuang Mountain Buddhist center have been studying Chinese and Buddhism, and one of them, a doctoral candidate at Princeton, can not only read the scriptures but also write passages from memory.

<< "Fuo" - The Chinese character representing Buddha

When Peter was a master's student at Columbia University, he became entranced by the beauty of Chinese characters, and began studying the language. Later, he felt very moved by the deep significance of Buddhism, and decided to go one step further in his Chinese and Buddhism studies. After many years of study, he can now read Chinese and write scriptures from memory.

Peter's classmate Owen is now a doctoral student at Princeton. He has researched Buddhism for many years, and he has not only memorized many passages, but can also explain the meaning of over 20 scriptures in English for English speakers. Owen says that right now, only a very limited amount of scriptures are available in English translations, so right now the only way to become truly familiar with them and understand the essence of Buddhism is to delve into the originals.

Another doctoral student from Princeton is at the center for the fourth time collecting data for his dissertation. At the age of 18, he first came into contact with Buddhism and started to study Chinese. Now, 15 years later, his Chinese is fluent, and he has been hired by CNN as a reporter to cover China. He says that while it is easier to understand the scriptures in English, it is difficult to recite them in that language; it's much better to recite them in Chinese.

Master Yifa says that currently a "San Diego Buddhist Translation Center" has been set up in the United States. The center hopes to attract talent such as these young men to translate important Buddhist scriptures into English so that Westerners may better understand them.