Interpreting Wisdom — Hermeneutics and translation of the Prajñāpāramitā with Dr. Orsborn
Tuesday, February 4, 7:45 - 9:00 pm
DRBU University Building, 2nd Floor Lounge
The modern practice of ancient religions all too often critically hinges on the interpretation of ancient texts, which themselves are frequently preserved in languages and set in cultures far distant from us in time and space. In the transmission of ideas, the starting point of the original author’s intentions and its culmination in comprehension in the mind of the contemporary practitioner are separated by a long process of many rounds of exchange between inner understandings and external expressions. This talk will focus on this process with examples from the Mahāyāna Buddhist Prajñāpāramitā texts, tracing their lineage from Indian Sanskrit, through classical Chinese, and into modern English. The goal is not to advocate any given system of translation as normative, but to highlight the need for flexibility and adaptability, noting gains and losses with each step on the path.
A native of New Zealand, since 2000 Matthew Orsborn has studied and subsequently taught Buddhism in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Thailand. He earned his PhD from the University of Hong Kong. Presently at Taiwan National University as a Visiting Associate Professor, his research is focused on classical Indian Buddhist texts and philosophy, as well as the practice, thought and institutions of contemporary Chinese Buddhism.