Erick Tsiknopoulos (Sherab Zangpo)

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Erick Ragnar-Cyprian Tsiknopoulos (Shérab Zangpo) is an American published translator of Tibetan language (both spoken and textual) into English, a teacher of Tibetan language, a post-graduate student, an independent Buddhist scholar, a writer, an editor, and an English teacher. His more notable works include the translations on Sugatagarbha Translations, the website of his translation committee, the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and his current projects of translating the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the Sūtra of Golden Light (Ārya Suvarṇaprabhā Sottama Sūtrendra Rāja nama Mahāyāna Sūtra) and the complete Yuthok Nyingthik (the main spiritual practice cycle related to Tibetan Medicine), both of which will be published upon their completion. Many of his other translations have been also been published or are scheduled to be published, including his translations of works by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche (2012), Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, and several Buddhist scriptures (including sūtras and dharanis). Several of his translations have been translated into other languages such as Spanish, French, German, Russian, Indonesian, and Greek, and his translations are used in Dharma centers around the world. Since late 2007, he has lived mostly in India and Nepal studying Tibetan language and Buddhism. He is the founder and main translator of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group. He occasionally serves as an oral translator for Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche, Denma Lochö Rinpoche, and Geshe Tséwang Nyima. He is currently working towards a Master's degree in Buddhist Studies through the International Buddhist College in Pak Thong Chai, Thailand. He usually lives in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India, and sometimes travels throughout Asia, in particular Nepal and Thailand.

Brief Bio

Erick Ragnar-Cyprian Tsiknopoulos (Shérab Zangpo) was born at 5:19 pm on October 15th, 1981 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. He grew up and spent most of his early life on both the east and west coasts of America, mainly in Pennsylvania and California. He has been a student of Buddhism since 1998. He took Buddhist refuge and pratimoksha layman's vows in 2000, and graduated high school later in the same year. He has studied and practiced Buddhism in the Theravāda, Vietnamese Zen, Chinese and Japanese Pure Land, Japanese Sōtō Zen, Korean Zen (Soen), Chinese Zen (Ch'an), and Japanese Nichiren and Shingon traditions (mostly from 1999 to 2005), and all four major schools of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism (mostly from 2003 to the present). He attended college intermittently from 2002 to 2007, mainly studying Japanese language and massage therapy. From 2000 to 2007 he traveled extensively within the United States, lived in six different states (but mostly in California), and worked in four different national parks and resorts. In 2003, he began study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism, mostly in the Nyingma tradition, under Lama Orgyen Zangpo, other Chagdud Gompa lamas, and in particular Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche. He traveled in Japan for six months in 2005, where he studied Japanese language, poetry, and Buddhism. Since late 2007 in India, he has studied and practiced in the Nyingma, Sakya, and Geluk traditions under various teachers.

He has been studying the Tibetan language since 2004. In late 2007 he began translating Tibetan texts. Since December 2007 he has spent the vast majority of his time in India and Nepal, engaged in an immersive study of Tibetan language and literature, Buddhist philosophy, and Tibetan Buddhism. In India and Nepal, he has lived in Bir, Darjeeling, Norbulingka/Sidhpur, Chauntra, Kathmandu, Dharamsala, and McLeod Ganj, but most of his time has been spent in the Himachal Pradesh/Dharamsala areas. In addition to frequent private classes with khenpos, geshes, and other Tibetan scholars, he has studied at the Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture, the Thösam Ling Institute, Dzongsar Shedra, and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. He also occasionally serves as a translator for Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche, Denma Lochö Rinpoche, and Geshe Tsewang Nyima.

In Dharamsala, he regularly studies Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan literature in public and private classes with Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso through Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang, and occasionally at Namgyal Monastery (His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s monastery), the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, with Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche, Geshe Lobsang Drakpa, Geshe Lobsang Dawa, and others.

He is currently working towards a Master's of Arts degree in Buddhist Studies through the International Buddhist College in Pak Thong Chai, Thailand, with a focus on Abhidharma.

He has translated hundreds of Tibetan works into English, many of which are available for viewing on this website, Sugatagarbha Translations. Several of his translations have been published or are scheduled for publication, including works by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness Düdjom Rinpoche Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje, the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, Khunu Lama Rinpoche II (Khunu Negi Rinpoche), Dr. Nida Chengatsang, and Nyala Pema Düddul, as well as several Mahāyāna sūtras. He has also translated various texts for Western Dharma centers.

His published works are as follows:

  • The Maha-Lakshmi Sūtra (Mahashri Sūtra) (uncredited), Malaysia, 2009
  • The Lamp of Advice Which Illuminates That Which Is To Be Adopted And Abandoned, by Khunu Negi Rinpoche (Khunu Lama Rinpoche II), Taiwan, 2010
  • Manjushri, Green Tara, and Medicine Buddha sadhana practice texts for Sakya Dokho Ling, a Sakya center in America, USA, 2011
  • The Noble One’s Downpour of Blessings: A Commentary on Thangtong Gyalpo’s Chenrezig Sadhana ‘For the Benefit of Beings Pervading Space’, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Benchen Nangten Thoesam Ling Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.benchen.org, 2012
  • The Lamp of Pristine Wisdom: A Commentary on Karme Chagme’s Manjushri Sadhana ‘Clearing Away the Darkness of Delusion’, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Benchen Nangten Thoesam Ling Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.benchen.org, 2012 (note: this and the Chenrezig commentary by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche were published together as one book)
  • Sunlight Blessings that Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of the Khunu Mahasattva, Tenzin Gyeltsen [Khunu Lama Rinpoche], by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, Gampopa Center, USA, 2012
  • The Prayer for the Swift Rebirth of the 9th Khalkha Jetsün Dampa Rinpoche, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, USA, 2012
  • several texts for Bon Shen Ling, a center in New York City, America (uncredited), USA, 2012
  • The Negative Retributions of Guns as Seen in the Reviving Hell: An Extract from the Visions of Each Hell, by Nyala Pema Duddul, China, 2013
  • The Concise Medicine Buddha Sutra, Thekchen Choling Singapore, Singapore, 2013
  • The One Hundred and Eight Names of the Exalted Jambhala, Thekchen Choling Singapore, Singapore, 2013

His current works scheduled for publication are as follows:

  • The Complete Yuthok Nyingthik (Portland, USA, to be published by a major American Buddhist publisher)
  • The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version (to be published in India and for free distribution by Taiwan)
  • The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 31 Chapter Version (to be published in India and for free distribution by Taiwan)

Fluent in spoken/colloquial Tibetan as well as literary/classical Tibetan, he has also translated orally for several Buddhist teachers, including Khorchak Tulku Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin Ludrup, Sangngag Tenzin Rinpoche, Khensur Denma Lochö Rinpoche, Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche, and Geshe Tsewang Nyima.

At present, his main translation projects are the 29 and 31 chapter versions of the Sūtra of Golden Light (Ārya Suvarṇaprabhā Sottama Sūtrendra Rāja Nama Mahāyāna Sūtra), and the complete Yuthok Nyingthik (the main spiritual practice cycle for Tibetan medical practitioners), all of which will be published.

He is the main translator and founder of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and the main translator of most of the translations on his website, Sugatagarbha Translations.

He currently lives in upper Dharamsala in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India, close to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s main temple and Kirti Monastery.

He is available for contact and translation inquiries at emptyelephant@yahoo.com and sugatagarbhatranslationgroup@gmail.com

Main teachers

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche

Other teachers in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Geshe Tsewang Nyima, Kyabje Lama Zöpa Rinpoche, His Eminence Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, His Holiness Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche, Geshe Lobsang Drakpa, Geshe Lobsang Dawa, His Holiness Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Geshe Tenzin Ludrup, Geshe Lobsang Tsöndru, Geshe Sönam Rinchen, Guru Döndup, Serta Khenpo Chöying, Loppön Sönam Gyaltsen, Lama Orgyen Zangpo, Lama Chökyi Nyima (Richard Barron), Lama Shenphen Drölma, Lama Jamie Gatsal, Lama Inge Yeshe Zangmo, Lama Tsering Everest, Chagdud Khandro, Tulku Jigme Tromge Rinpoche, Ven. Thubten Chödrön, Tulku Jigme Thrinley Rinpoche, Sangngag Tenzin Rinpoche, Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, Jangtse Chöje Gyume Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche, His Eminence Khensur Dhakpa Tritul Rinpoche, Khorchak Tulku Rinpoche, Dr. Nida Chengatsang, Nechung Kuten Rinpoche, Lama Lodu Rinpoche, Ven. Ani Drubgyudma, Geshe Kelsang Wangmo, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, and others

Main academic teachers

Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso, Gen Dawa Tsering, and others

Teachers in other Buddhist lineages

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, Dharmacarya Chan Huy, Hozan Alan Senauke Roshi, Angie Boissevain Roshi, Mary Mocine Roshi, Daniel Terragno Roshi, Rev. Kyoki Roberts, Ven. Heng Sure, Bhikshuni Heng Chih, and others

Study Background

Began studying Buddhism in 1999. Studied Buddhism in the Theravāda, Vietnamese Zen, Shangpa Kagyü, Sōtō Zen, Chan, and Nyingma traditions from 1999-2005. Began focused study of Tibetan Buddhism in 2003, under Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche and Lama Orgyen Zangpo. Began studying Tibetan language in 2004. Has been living in India and Nepal engaged in immersive study of Tibetan language, Tibetan Buddhism, and Buddhist philosophy from 2007 to the present. In India, has studied at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture, the Thösam Ling Institute, Dzongsar Shedra (Dzongsar Chökyi Lodrö Institute of Buddhist Dialectics), and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, as well as frequent private classes with geshes, khenpos, and other Tibetan scholars.

He serves as one of main oral translators for Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche's regular Dharma teachings in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India.

Currently studies Pharchin/Prajñāpāramitā/Perfection of Wisdom (Asanga-Maitreya's Abhisamayālaṃkāra with its Tibetan commentaries), Lamrim literature ("Stages of the Path" texts including Lamrim Chenmo), Tibetan Buddhist debate and dialectics, Tibetan Buddhist meditation and praxis, the works of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibetan grammar, the Yuthok Nyingthik, the Sūtra of Golden Light (gser 'od dam pa'i mdo/Ārya Suvarṇaprabhā Sottama Sūtrendra Rāja Nama Mahāyāna Sūtra), and other Tibetan literature in public and private classes at Namgyal Monastery, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, and Esukhia, with his teachers Geshe Lobsang Drakpa, Geshe Lobsang Dawa, Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso, and Geshe Kelsang Wangmo.

Currently working towards a Master's Degree in Buddhist Studies through the International Buddhist College in Pak Thong Chai, Thailand (associated with Hong Kong University).

Published Works (in chronological order)

  • The Maha-Lakshmi Sūtra (Mahashri Sūtra) (uncredited), Malaysia, 2009
  • The Lamp of Advice Which Illuminates That Which Is To Be Adopted And Abandoned, by Khunu Negi Rinpoche (Khunu Lama Rinpoche II), Denmark, 2010
  • Manjushri, Green Tara, and Medicine Buddha sadhana practice texts for Sakya Dokho Ling, a Sakya center in America, USA, 2010
  • The Noble One’s Downpour of Blessings: A Commentary on Thangtong Gyalpo’s Chenrezig Sadhana ‘For the Benefit of Beings Pervading Space’, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Benchen Nangten Thoesam Ling Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.benchen.org, 2012
  • The Lamp of Pristine Wisdom: A Commentary on Karme Chagme’s Manjushri Sadhana ‘Clearing Away the Darkness of Delusion’, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Benchen Nangten Thoesam Ling Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal, http://www.benchen.org, 2012
  • Sunlight Blessings that Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of the Khunu Mahasattva, Tenzin Gyeltsen [Khunu Lama Rinpoche], by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, Gampopa Center, USA, 2011
  • The Prayer for the Swift Rebirth of the 9th Khalkha Jetsün Dampa Rinpoche, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, USA, 2012
  • several texts for Bon Shen Ling, a center in New York City, America (uncredited), USA, 2012
  • The Negative Retributions of Guns as Seen in the Reviving Hell: An Extract from the Visions of Each Hell, by Nyala Pema Duddul, China, 2013
  • The Concise Medicine Buddha Sutra, Thekchen Choling Singapore, Singapore, 2013
  • The One Hundred and Eight Names of the Exalted Jambhala, Thekchen Choling Singapore, Singapore, 2014

Current Works in Progress Scheduled for Publication

  • The Complete Yuthok Nyingthik (to be published by a major American publisher)
  • The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 29 Chapter Version (to be published in India and for free distribution in Taiwan)
  • The Sūtra of Golden Light: The 31 Chapter Version (to be published in India and for free distribution in Taiwan)
  • Entry Point of the Conqueror's Heirs: A Commentary on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche (Malaysia, Nepal, Europe)

Active Projects

Unpublished Works (completed)

Early life

Erick Ragnar-Cyprian Tsiknopoulos was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America. His mother is of Norwegian and Swedish heritage, and his father of Greek, German-American, and Irish heritage. His ethnic heritage is thus 25 percent Greek, 25 percent Norwegian, 25 percent Swedish, 12.5 percent Irish, and 12.5 percent German-American. His father grew up in the Greek/Turkish island country of Cyprus, and emigrated to the US at the age of 9. His grandmother was a Greek immigrant who grew up in Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. His mother grew up in coastal Northern California, the daughter of a Swedish-American logging mill worker and poet and a Norwegian-American school teacher. Both his parents spent most of their time living in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1969-1981. His father is a construction inspector, and his mother works in the special education field, particularly with Head Start, a government program for special-needs and underprivileged children. He has one younger brother, Wesley John-Cyprian. His great-grandfather, Yiannis Tsiknopoulos, was the author of several books on the Greek Orthodox Christian saints and monasteries of Cyprus.

After his birth in Gettysburg, his parents moved to Sacramento, California, where he spent most of the first year of his life. The family then moved back to the Gettysburg area, where they lived until he was 8 years old. At age 8 his family moved to Florida for about a year and a half, and returned to Pennsylvania in 1991. He spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, about one hour south of Pittsburgh, where his parents still reside.

From an early age, Erick had a strong interest in reading. In particular, when he was young he was interested in mythology, the paranormal, legends, epics, adventure, fantasy, magic, and science fiction.

In high school he took a keen interest to foreign languages, literature, philosophy, Asian cultures, Eastern religion, and especially Buddhism. He began studying Buddhism at the age of 17. At the age of 18, during his senior year of high school, he formally became a Buddhist. From then on, he always read everything about Buddhism that he could. During his senior year of high school he began to attend Buddhist events, including the Pittsburgh Buddhist Conference (his first Buddhist event), a 5 Lay Precepts retreat with a teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh's Vietnamese lineage, and a meditation retreat at the Bhavana Society, a Theravada monastery in the Sri Lankan tradition. During this time his library of Buddhist books grew considerably. In particular, he read various Buddhist scriptures and sutras, a habit which he still maintains.

In the summer after graduation, he stayed at the Bhavana Society again for about one month, where he studied vipassana meditation and the lay ethical precepts with the senior American monk Bhante Rahula and Bhante Gunaratana, one of the foremost Sri Lankan Buddhist masters. He also took an interest in Chinese Buddhism, especially due to its syncretic approach.

Post High School and Early Twenties

After graduating high school in 2000, he moved to Humboldt County, California, first to Eureka and shortly thereafter to Arcata. His initial reason for moving there was to serve in the government volunteer program AmeriCorps, where he worked as an environmental educator for one year, mostly teaching elementary school children about recycling. He initially planned on working in his mother's home county of Mendocino, but the program lost its funding and he was shifted to a program in Arcata. He made the cross-country trip and initially lived in Eureka with a contact he had made through the Bhavana Society, a New Jersey Buddhist who was also a recent high school graduate.

His experiences in Arcata, renowned as one of the most progressive and eccentric college towns in America, made a strong impression on him. Living there allowed him to explore a variety of different lifestyles, and provided him with an abundance of interesting experiences and encounters with various artists, writers, poets, activists, musicians, Buddhists, yoga practitioners, and travelers. His unusual experiences there could fill a whole book.

While he lived in Arcata he was also exposed to Tibetan Buddhism and Zen, which were to both have a profound affect on life and way of thinking. He became actively involved in the local Zen and Tibetan Buddhist sanghas, and attended many teachings with their visiting teachers. For a while he served as the librarian of the Arcata Zen Center. He also had a kind of poetic apprenticeship with Crawdad Nelson, one of the most popular Northern Californian poets, and befriended many musicians, such as the well-known indie rock artist Zach Meints and his associates. He spent most of his time from late 2000 to early 2005 in Humboldt County and Arcata, and lived there a little less than 4 years in total.

In 2002, he traveled to Southern California and Arizona with his then-girlfriend, going to various towns in an adventurous spirit, and then worked a season at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as a cashier and a stock person, and briefly served as the main steward for one of the two main cafeterias at the Grand Canyon. After returning home to Pennsylvania for a couple months, he stayed at a Chinese Buddhist monastery for one month (the City of 10,000 Buddhas in Ukiah, California), where he studied Gwan Yin recitation, Ch'an meditation, and the Shurangama Sutra. In August 2002, he started college for the first time at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. In college he began to study Japanese language, which would later become a major interest. He served another year-long term with AmeriCorps, where he worked as a reading and literacy tutor for elementary school students.

In 2003, at the age of 21, he met his first Tibetan Buddhist teachers with whom he felt a strong connection, the triple-khenpo and tulku Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche and the American lama Lama Orgyen Zangpo. Both of them were teaching right across from his house at the Arcata Veterans' Center. During this time, his reading interests and exposure to various ideas and philosophies greatly expanded. In the summer of 2003, he again spent time at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, studying again with Bhante Gunaratana and Bhante Rahula. He then worked a season at Yosemite National Park, where he had many adventures in the high country of the Sierra Mountains and befriended many Japanese exchange workers. After that, he traveled to Mexico with a Japanese friend he had met in Yosemite, hitchhiking most of the way there and back. On the way back from Mexico he hitchhiked up the California coast. He then returned to Arcata, and began studying frequently with the Tibetan Buddhist teachers he had briefly met earlier that year, Lama Orgyen Zangpo and Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche. With them he studied shamatha-vipashyana from the Tibetan perspective, guru yoga, Red Tara, and other teachings. He started to become extremely interested in Tibetan Buddhism.

In 2004, he lived in Arcata and continued his studies of Tibetan Buddhism, along with his Japanese language studies. He also continued his study and practice of Zen, and developed a deeper appreciation for the writings of Zen Master Dogen. It was at the time that, being inspired by the translator Richard Barron and others, that he developed the aspiration to learn Tibetan language and become a Tibetan-English translator, after which he began to study Tibetan language for the first time.

In 2005, at the age of 23, he said a final goodbye to Arcata, and traveled to Japan, where he lived for 6 months. There he became relatively fluent in Japanese, and lived in the Saitama, Mie, and Kyoto prefectures. This was to be one of the most formative experiences of his life. It was the first time that he had lived in Asia, entered deeply into an Asian culture and language, and experienced Buddhism firsthand in a traditionally Buddhist culture. In Japan he worked as an English teacher part-time, and spent most of his free time studying Japanese, writing haiku in Japanese, and visiting Buddhist temples. His experiences in Japan made a deep change on his perception.

Mid-Twenties

In 2005, he returned from Japan and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he lived for 7 months with his good friend John Allen Gibel, a film-maker and yoga teacher. During this time he led a meditation group in his home, and helped to arrange for the visit of Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche to Pittsburgh. He also became more involved in his study of the Tibetan language.

In 2006, he again traveled across the country, staying at Dharma centers in the West and attending retreats with his Tibetan Buddhist teachers. He painted the inside of a prayer-wheel house at Iron Knot Ranch in Arizona, and attended a profound retreat with his teacher Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche in Oregon. He then worked a summer in Olympic National Park in Washington State. After that, he stayed at Ven. Thubten Chodron's monastery Shravasti Abbey in Washington for a month, where he studied monastic life and the bodhisattva levels. He then attended a month-long teaching on Rongzom Mahapandita's text 'Entering the Way of the Great Approach' with Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche at Rigdzin Ling in Northern California. After that, he lived in Cottage Grove, Oregon for 6 months at the Nyingma Dharma center Dechhen Ling. It was during this year that he began to receive the higher teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, and also began one of his major interests: integral philosophy, especially according to the theories of Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics theory.

In 2007, he lived in Dechhen Ling in Cottage Grove and then in Eugene, Oregon at a Sakya Dharma center for 4 months. He also studied massage therapy in the local community college. During this time, he studied classical Tibetan with the translator Chris Wilkinson. After that, he worked for a season at a hot springs resort in Alaska. Following that, he returned briefly to Oregon and then to his parents' home in Pennsylvania. At this time, he began his first experiments with translating Tibetan texts.

In December 2007, he finally attained the goal that was his true heart's desire for over three years: at last, at the age of 26, he traveled to India to study Tibetan.

In India in 2008, he stayed in Dharamsala briefly and then stayed in Bir. In February 2008, he returned to the US for less than a month due to personal circumstances. Upon returning in the same month, stayed briefly in Tashi Jong, and again stayed in Bir, where he taught English at Chokling Gompa for two months. During this period, he spent most of his time studying classical Tibetan in isolation at the top of Chokling Monastery's highest tower, and began to speak Tibetan with the locals for the first time. He then traveled to Darjeeling, where he studied spoken and literary Tibetan for about 5 months at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture with Gen Dawa and Gen Lobsang. In Darjeeling he lived first at the Drukpa Kagyu monastery Dzigar Gompa and then in his own apartment. During this time he started to become skilled in the spoken Tibetan language. Due to the political unrest in Darjeeling at that time, when they local dominant political groups were threatening a two month strike and asked all foreigners to leave, he traveled to Kathmandu for one month. In October 2008, due to financial problems and other concerns, he returned to the United States for about 8 months, living in Pittsburgh and Uniontown.

Late Twenties

In June 2009, he returned to India, where at first he lived in Sidhpur/Norbulingka and studied at the Thosam Ling Institute with Geshe Tsewang Nyima and also with Dharma teachers in private classes, including Serta Khenpo Choeying and Loppon Sonam Gyaltsen. It was during this period that he began to work professionally as a Tibetan translator. He translated the Mahashri Sutra (Maha-Lakshi Sutra), and Melodious and Delightful Laughter: A Clearly-Expressed Chronicle of the Sacred Site of Drakda Lamtso, the Life-Force Lake of Yeshe Tsogyal (for the Jnanasukha Foundation) during this time, as well as many texts from the Zungdu (The Collected Dharanis). He also attended many teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj.

In 2010, he translated the The Lamp of Advice Which Illuminates That Which Is To Be Adopted And Abandoned, by Khunu Negi Rinpoche (Khunu Lama Rinpoche II). Beginning in March of 2010, he studied Buddhist philosophy, grammar, logic, and debate at Dzongsar Shedra in Chauntra for about five months. He then moved back to Sidhpur/Norbulingka. He translated briefly for Chamtrul Rinpoche in McLeod Ganj. He finished his translation of Manjushri, Green Tara, and Medicine Buddha sadhanas for an Sakya Dokho Ling, an American Dharma center. In November of 2010, he conceived the project for translating the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the Sutra of Golden Light, and formed the Sugatagarbha Translation Group with Mike Dickman. He spend a few weeks in Tso Pema, where he translated The Noble One's Downpour of Blessings: A Commentary on Thangtong Gyalpo's Chenrezig Sadhana 'For the Benefit of Beings Pervading Space', by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. During this year he also attended many teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and also Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

In 2011, he lived in Norbulingka, Kathmandu, and Darjeeling. His parents visited him in India for two weeks, and they spent time in Dharamsala and Kerala. Early in the year in Norbulingka, he studied with Geshe Tsewang Nyima of Thösam Ling and Serta Khenpo Chöying, studying Madhyamaka texts ith both of them. In May 2011 he finished his translation of The Lamp of Pristine Wisdom: A Commentary on Karme Chagme's Manjushri Sadhana 'Clearing Away the Darkness of Delusion', by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. In June 2011 He began his online Tibetan teaching service, 'Learn Tibetan at Home'. During this time he also helped Serta Khenpo Choeying found the organization and website for the Mipham Lineage Preservation Association. In July 2011 he moved to Boudha, Kathmandu briefly, for three and a half months. He moved to Darjeeling in October. In December 2011, he finished the translation of Sunlight Blessings That Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of the Khunu Mahasattva, Tenzin Gyeltsen [Khunu Lama Rinpoche], by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, reviewing the text with Gen Dawa, his old teacher from Manjushree.

Early Thirties/Present

Erick Tsiknopoulos is presently at the age of 32.

In late 2011 and early 2012 he lived in Darjeeling and continued his Tibetan language and Buddhist studies with his teachers from 2008, Gen Dawa Tsering and Geshe Tenzin Ludrup. He continued to work on his various translation projects, finished his translation of the Sunlight Blessings Which Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of Khunu Lama Rinpoche by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, studied the Akashagarbha Sūtra with Geshe Tenzin Ludrup, and translated on Sundays for Geshe Tenzin Ludrub's Dharma teachings. In the winter of 2011-2012, he traveled for two months in Dharamsala and Karnataka in South India.

In April 2012 he moved to Dharamsala, which he has now established as his permanent base in India.

In 2012 he studied philosophical tenet systems (grub mtha'), the Seventy Topics of the Abhisamayalamkara (don bdun bcu), Collected Debate Topics (bsdus grwa), and the Bodhicaryāvatāra at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives with Geshe Lobsang Tsondru and Geshe Sonam Rinchen, the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the The Sūtra of Golden Light and the Yuthok Nyingthik in private classes through Esukhia with Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso, and the Lamrim Chenmo with at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics with Geshe Lobsang Dawa.

During 2012 he completed several translations of texts for the American center Bon Shen Ling. In May 2012 he began translating the The Complete Yuthok Nyingthik. In August 2012 he began to study the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the The Sutra of Golden Light and The Complete Yuthok Nyingthik with Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso. In September 2012 he moved to McLeod Ganj, close to the Dalai Lama's Main Temple/Tsuklhakhang. In November-December of 2012 he studied Minds and Awarenesses (blo rig) and Signs and Reasons (rtags rigs) intensively with Ven. Khyenrab, a senior monk from Drepung Monastery. In December of 2012 he finished his translation of The Negative Retributions of Guns as Seen in the Reviving Hell: An Extract from the Visions of Each Hell, by Nyala Pema Duddul.

In 2012, he also attended teachings of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and several teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In early January of 2013, he translated for Sangngag Tenzin Rinpoche in Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal. From early January to early March of 2013, he visited the USA for two months.

He currently studies primarily at Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang with Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso reviewing his translations, and to a lesser extent at Namgyal Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Dialects, in various classes taught by Geshe Lobsang Drakpa, Geshe Lobsang Dawa, and Geshe Kelsang Wangmo, in particular Pharchin/Prajñāpāramitā/Perfection of Wisdom (Abhisamayālaṃkāra along with its Tibetan commentaries), Lamrim/Stages of the Path literature, Tibetan Buddhist meditation and praxis, the works of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Lamrim Chenmo, and Tibetan grammar. He reviews his translations (mainly the complete Yuthok Nyingthik and the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the The Sūtra of Golden Light every day with Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso, an accomplished scholar of Tibetan medicine and Buddhism.

He continues to work on his translation projects, the main ones beings the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the The Sūtra of Golden Light and The Complete Yuthok Nyingthik.

Letters of Support

[1]

Letter of Support from Chris Wilkinson, senior Tibetan translator, Tibetan language teacher, Buddhist scholar, and Phd Candidate

I have known Erick Tsiknopoulos since 2007, at which time he studied Tibetan Language under me.

Erick has persevered in his studies of higher Buddhist learning and foreign languages over the years, without pause. He has translated a large number of both canonical and non-canonical documents, and has worked under many of the important Dharma teachers in India and Nepal. His work is widely known in the Tibetan Buddhist Community. His motivation and demonstrated commitment are beyond question. I believe that Erick is making and will continue to make a genuine contribution to the Dharma, and wish him every success.

Sincerely,

Christopher Wilkinson

http://www.hum.leiden.edu/lias/organisation/phd-asian/wilkinsonc.html

Letter of Support from Sir Dato’ Patrick Tan, Royal Knight of Malaysia and founder of the wildly successful VISIBER company

I have had the good fortune of knowing Erick Tsiknopoulos since 2010. I first encountered him on the internet through his excellent website of Tibetan Buddhist translations, Sugatagarbha Translations. I was deeply impressed with his obviously high level of skill in both Tibetan language and Tibetan to English translation, as well as his vast knowledge of Buddhism. I was also moved that he offered all of his translations for free. I developed a friendship and partnership with him that continues to this day. I have always supported his altruistic translation projects, and over the years I have tried to help him as I am able. In 2011, I had the opportunity to meet him in person in Kathmandu, where he served as an oral translator for me and my colleagues at Namo Buddha and Pharping, and he was very helpful to us on our spiritual journey into the most holy Tibetan sites in Nepal. He has also translated several letters to Tibetan lamas from English into Tibetan for me, and he worked as the main English editor and proofreader for the English edition of my company’s official magazine (96 Street Magazine) for over a year and half, from 2011 to 2012.

His translation abilities are beyond doubt, and his talent and proficiency in both English and Tibetan is inspiring. Moreover, his wide-ranging understanding of Buddhism is highly unusual for someone of his age, and it is obvious that he has been constantly furthering his Buddhist studies for quite a long time. I have always admired his sincere commitment to the intensive study of Tibetan Buddhism in India, and his unique dedication to the field of translation. He has studied with many great Buddhist teachers in both America and India for many years, and through this he has truly gained a deep familiarity with a broad spectrum of the Buddhist teachings.

For myself, as a long-time student and supporter of Buddhism in both the Chinese and Tibetan traditions, and someone who has visited India and Nepal on numerous occasions, I can appreciate the diligence and patience that is required for the kind of study that Erick has accomplished. It is very difficult and requires a great deal of courage and devotion. Erick has served as an encouragement for me in my own Dharma studies and practice.

I believe that he is and will continue to be of great benefit to Buddhism and the world.

Sincerely,

Dato’ Patrick Tan, Royal Knight of Malaysia

Founder and Chairman of the VISIBER Corporation (VISIBER SDN BHD, VISIBER International Group)

Websites: http://www.visiber.com

http://www.visiber.com/corporate/mgmt.php

Letter of Support from Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso, Tibetan physician, Buddhist scholar, teacher, and author

I, the one by the name of Lobzang Gyamtso, a Dharma teacher for the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings [Nangten Sizhu Khang], address you with respect.

My name is Lobzang Gyamtso, and my home country is in the region of southern Amdo in the snowy land of Tibet. In both Tibet and India, over the course of eighteen years I completed my studies of four major textual subjects of the Buddhadharma [namely, Buddhist logic and epistemology (Tibetan: tshad ma, Sanskrit: pramāṇa) based on Dharmakīrti’s Compendium of Valid Cognition (Tibetan: tshad ma rnam ‘grel, Sanskrit: pramāṇavārttikakārika), Perfection of Wisdom literature (Tib: phar phyin/shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa, San: prajñāpāramitā) based on Asaṅga and Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realization (Tib: mngon rtogs rgyan, San: abhisamayālaṅkāra), Abhidharma (Tib: mngon pa, San: abhidharma) based on Vasubandhu’s Treasury of Abhidharma (Tib: mngon pa mdzod, San: abhidharmakośa), and Middle Way ontology (Tib: dbu ma, San: madhyamaka) based on the works of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti). I have also studied the five minor Tibetan arts and sciences [poetry, etymological and synonym studies, writing and composition, astrology, and drama], Chinese language, English language, mathematics, geography, and natural science. In both Tibet and India, I have worked as a teacher for seven years and as a physician for five years. Recently I have been working for about two years as a Dharma teacher for students from ten different countries at the Esukhia Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings [Nangten Sizhu Khang] in Dharamsala, Northern India. I am also currently working as an author, physician, translator, and online writer and editor.

Now, to elaborate on the subject at hand, my student, the young American scholar known as Erick: He is of good and kind character, and is an intellectual of broad understanding and discernment. He has studied the Sanskrit, Pāli, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Hindi languages in addition to English. He has a good knowledge of Sanskrit Buddhist terminology, and he attained a high level of ability in Japanese language during a six month stay in Japan. For over ten years, he has studied a great deal of the Mahāyana and Secret Mantra [Vajrayana] Dharma teachings of the Nyingma (Tib: rnying ma) lineage in America and India with many great Buddhist teachers, as well as the teachings of the other three main Tibetan Buddhist lineages, and has attended and studied many teachings on mind-training, emptiness, madhyamaka, tantra, and various important Buddhist texts.

He has attended and studied at many schools in both America and India. In America, he studied Japanese language, massage therapy, and so on at two colleges in America [College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California and Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon]. In India, he has studied literary and colloquial Tibetan at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture in Darjeeling, Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophical subjects such as tenets [Tib: grub mtha’, San: siddhānta] and madhyamaka [Tib: dbu ma] at the Thösam Ling Institute in Norbulingka, mahāyana sūtras [The Sūtra on Recollecting the Three Jewels (Tib: dkon mchog gsum rjes su dran pa’i mdo)], mental states and cognitions [Tib: blo rigs], logic and reasoning [Tib: rtags rigs], Tibetan Buddhist debate, collected debate topics [Tib: bsdus grwa], and Tibetan grammar [Tib: sum rtags] at Dzongsar Shedra (Dzongsar Chökyi Lodrö Institute of Buddhist Dialectics) in Chauntra, tenets, collected debate topics, the seventy topics of the Abhisamayālaṅkāra [Tib: don bdun bcu], and Śāntideva’s Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra [Tib: jang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa] at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Path [Tib: lam rim chen mo], Tibetan grammar, Tibetan Buddhist meditation and praxis, and prajñāpāramitā (Abhisamayālaṅkāra) at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj, and prajñāpāramitā [Abhisamayalamkara with its commentary by Panchen Sönam Drakpa], stages of the path [Tib: lam rim] literature, and Tibetan meditation and praxis at Namgyal Monastery (His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s main temple). In addition, he has also frequently attended private classes with various Buddhist scholars such as khenpos and geshes, in which he has studied subjects such as the Gyeltsap Darma Rinchen’s commentary on the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, Chanting the Names of Mañjuśrī [San: mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, Tib: ‘jam dpal mtshan brjod), Ju Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Knowledge [Tib: mkhas ‘jug] and Torch of Certainty [Tib: nges shes sgron me], Tsongkhapa’s praise to Mañjuśrī, mental states and cognitions, logic and reasoning, and the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra [Tib: nam mkha’i snying po’i mdo], and so forth.

Since 2012, he has studied through the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings [Nangten Sizhu Khang] with me, and together we have reviewed the Sūtra of Golden Light (Tibetan: gser ‘od dam pa’i mdo, Sanskrit: ārya-suvarṇaprabhā-sottama-sūtrendra-rāja-nama-mahāyāna-sūtra), a collection of sūtras (Tib: mdo tshan phyogs sgrigs), a text on the negative retributions of guns (Tib: me mda’i nyes dmigs), and the Tibetan medical-tantric cycle of the Yuthok Nyingthik (Tib: g.yu thog snying thig); I have gone over his translations of these texts with him, and provided him with additional commentary and explanation. I believe that his translation skills are exceptional.

He is also currently doing oral translation on a regular basis for Tibetan Buddhist subjects such as Tsongkhapa’s Three Principle Aspects of the Path [Tib: lam gtso rnam gsum] and the Four Noble Truths for an accomplished lama named Geshe Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche.

His level of aptitude in literary and classical Tibetan language is immense, and his spoken Tibetan language and powers of expression are excellent. In particular, he has trained and continues to train in a profound and deep research of the Buddhist teachings. He is a resourceful young man of strong intelligence who holds an aspiration to spread and promulgate Buddhism in a far-reaching way, and is someone who has vast ambitions to in the future be able to accomplish great service for the Buddhist teachings in their entirety, due to the fact that he has the aim of helping to establish peace and happiness in the world.

On the third day of Joy during the virtuous period of the waxing moon in the month of Saga Dawa [the eleventh day of the fourth month of Vesak] in the Tibetan Water Snake Year, this was written at the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings [Nangten Sizhu Khang] in Dharamsala, Himachal [Pradesh], India.

5/17/2013

Dr. Lobzang Gyamtso

Website: http://www.esukhia.com

Letter of Support from Dr. Scott Mist, medical doctor, professor, and main organizer of the Yuthok Nyingthik Translation Project

Erick and I have been working together for the last two years on a translation project where I have served as the main organizer of the project, and he has worked as the head translator. Erick has been translating the Yuthok Nyingthik under the auspices and with the help of Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a preeminent scholar and instructor of Tibetan medicine. Erick was recommended to me by Dr. Frances Garret, University of Toronto, for his extremely high level of Tibetan language skills and impressive ability in translating classical Tibetan. We both believe that he is one of the best Tibetan-English translators of the younger generation working today.

The Yuthok Nyingthik is a uniquely difficult text to translate, in that it is simultaneously a medical text and a complete Vajrayana cycle. As such, the textual material has a vast array of terminology and literary styles, with subjects ranging from specific herbs and Tibetan medicinal practices, detailed historical documents, prayers and rituals, philosophical expositions and practice manuals, to Vajrayana practices including sngon ‘gro, bla ma’i rnal ‘byor, shin tu rnal ‘byor, phyag rgya chen po, sman sgrub, bskyed rim, and rdzogs rim. The language and subject matter of the text is often quite esoteric, archaic, poetic, and condensed. Erick’s eloquent work on this challenging text is a testament to his extensive knowledge of Buddhism and Tibetan language.

Erick has been a dedicated student of Buddhism since 1999. Since 2007, he has been living in India studying Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. In both America and India, he has studied with several Buddhist master scholars, and in India he has been deeply immersed in Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan literature, and Tibetan Buddhist practices, through private and public classes at many highly-regarded Buddhist institutions. He currently studies Buddhist philosophy at Namgyal Monastery (His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s main monastery), the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, and the Esukhia Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings. Furthermore, he serves as the main oral translator for Geshe Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche’s regular Dharma teachings in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India.

Erick has been diligent, articulate and forthright in his work – important skills in a translator. I strongly recommend him for all future translation and educational endeavors.

Sincerely,

Scott Mist, PhD, MAcOM

Assistant Professor

Fibromyalgia Research Group

School of Nursing

&

Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases Department

School of Medicine

Oregon Health & Science University

Letter of Support from Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang, a preeminent Tibetan language educational institution in Dharamsala, India

Esukhia ནང་བསན་སི་ཞ་ཁང་། McLeod Ganj, India 24 May 2013

To Whom It May Concern;

It is our pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for Erick Tsiknopoulos. During his tenure as an Esukhia student, Erick has proven himself to be an avid and exceptional student with a prodigious curiosity in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and its textual heritage. He is continually striving to improve his knowledge of the Tibetan language, both spoken and literary, as evidenced by his continuing collaborative relationship with the staff members at our organization, who are excellent scholars in their own right.

We believe Erick has great potential in his future as a translator, having spent his time training in India since 2007, essentially following in the footsteps of the great lotsawas (Tibetan translators) of the past, who would spend 20 years training to work in collaboration with Indian masters for the sake of translation. We therefore wholeheartedly endorse him and wish him continued success in all his academic and educational pursuits.

Sincerely, Dirk Schmidt (Translation Department Director) & Esukhia’s Board of Directors

A Praise and Prayer for Erick Tsiknopoulos (Sherab Zangpo), by Khenchen Lama Pelgyepa Dorje Rinpoche

ཨེ་མ་ཧོཿ

ཨེ་རིག་སྟོང་པའི་ཤེས་རབ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་ཤིང་།།ཝཾ་རིག་སྣང་བའི་ཀུན་བཟང་བདེ་ལེགས་་པོ། ། །ཟུང་འཇུག་སྤྲུལ་་པའི་ལོ་ཙྰ་གཞན་ཕན་ཅན།།རྟེན་འབྲེལ་་དམ་པའི་གྲོགས་ལ་བསྟོད་པ་བགྱི། །བསྟན་དང་འགྲོ་བའི་དོན་ཆེན་འགྲུབ་པར་ཤོག།ཅེས་པའང་ཅི་དྲན་དུ་ཤྲྰི་སྨྱོན་པས་སྨོན་པ་དོན་དང་ལྡན་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག །

ཨེ་མ་ཧོཿ

EMAHO

How marvelous!

ཨེ་རིག་སྟོང་པའི་ཤེས་རབ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་ཤིང།

E-RIK TONG-PAY SHE-RAB TRA-SHII SHING

The auspiciousness of E, the sublime gnosis of the unity of pure awareness and emptiness,

།ཝཾ་རིག་སྣང་བའི་ཀུན་བཟང་བདེ་ལེགས་པོ། །

VAM RIK-NANG-WAY KÜN-ZANG DE-LEK-PO

And the excellent bliss of VAM, the total nobility of the visions of pure intelligence,

།ཟུང་འཇུག་སྤྲུལ་པའི་ལོ་ཙཱ་གཞན་ཕན་ཅན།

ZUNG-JUK TRÜL-PAY LO-TSA ZHEN-P’HEN-CHEN

O Translator who is an emanation of their integral coalescence, imbued with benefit for others,

།རྟེན་འབྲེལ་དམ་པའི་གྲོགས་ལ་བསྟོད་པ་བགྱི།

TEN-DREL DAM-PAY DROK LA TÖ-PA GYI

Friend of sublime interdependence, I praise you:

།བསྟན་དང་འགྲོ་བའི་དོན་ཆེན་འགྲུབ་པར་ཤོག།

TEN DANG DRO-WAY DÖN-CHHEN DRUP-PAR SHOK

May you accomplish the great aim of the Teachings and beings!

ཅེས་པའང་ཅི་དྲན་དུ་ཤྲཱི་སྨྱོན་པས་སྨོན་པ་དོན་དང་ལྡན་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག །

Thus, the Madman Shri [Khenchen Lama Pelgyeypa Dorje Rinpoche] set down whatever came to mind. May this aspiration be of significance!

External links

Template:Persondata

Other Projects

numerous sutras, prayers, and commentaries

Internal Links

http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Sugatagarbha_Translation_Group

External Links

http://www.sugatagarbhatranslations.com
http://www.sutraofgoldenlight.com http://www.learntibetanathome.com

Can your oral/written translation skills be engaged?

Yes.

email: emptyelephant@yahoo.com or sugatagarbhatranslationgroup@gmail.com