Dear Dharma friends and co-lotsawas
Over the last couple of decades we have seen a tremendous development in the translation of Buddhist literature from the Tibetan language. A dominant portion has come through practitioners with close links to the living lineage. With a very particular plan in mind, I have begun to compile a list these yogi-scholars and their assistants from recently published works and emails lists—you seem to be among them. It's a small world; I've either met, corresponded with or am a close friend to most of you. We share similar aims and activities and are already a virtual circle of translators, scholars and practitioners, similarly involved in bringing the Dharma into European languages.
Besides printed books for teachings, the Internet has become the main venue for communicating who is the current teachers, their teaching schedules, texts, etc., what has and has yet to be translated. We have access to millions of fragments.
On a trip across the US, coincidence would have it that I happened to sit next to Kent Sandvik who was playing around with an idea for a “Dharmapedia”, a more private area of the Wikipedia type of program, just for Dharma people. In a "Wiki" you can post-and-edit while you surf and others can instantly see the new material. We discussed the idea of expanding this to include a Tibetan-English online dictionary, as well, which would grow while we use it—adding to it and improving it. Later the same month, after meeting separately with the altruistic Gene Smith and Eric Colombel in New York, the idea hatched and there is now an official www.dharmadictionary.net available on your screen. I have offered the Rangjung Yeshe dictionary a transit into public property.
I sense there is a lot of goodwill surrounding this project and a wonderful spirit of sharing. Several experts—Eric, Gerry, Kent and Peter—are working selflessly so all of us can benefit from this. Moreover, the Wiki format has a short learning curve and the benefits are many, as you will notice.
Here is the plan: in addition to developing a “Tibetan-English dictionary of Usage”, I feel there is a real need to have one common database for lineage histories, short biographies of our teachers and their teachers, descriptions of texts, what has been and has yet to be translated, the locations and descriptions of sacred places, indices, notes and other backmatter from you published books that you want to share. We have a tremendous amount we could be sharing with each other, lying around on our hard disks.
We are facilitating a site where a wide range of already created materials -- glossaries, indices, backmatter to published books, or your Ph.d. theses -- can find a home before your laptop die or your hard drive crashes.
Such a "circle of lotsawas" is also in tune with the times we live in, especially while there is no King of Dharma to issue a final decree for all of us to follow. Consensus will come naturally and as we exchange more and share more together - the Wiki on www.dharmadictionary.net has plenty of room for discussion pages, plus there is an easy way to email each other.
Anybody can do anonymous searches, but editing requires a log-in.
As you are especially invited, the "first round" is to post a brief description of yourself and to describe what your wishes are on this page:
As you become an active participant, please makesure that your name is on the page for "Translators", "Editors/content" or "Technical development". If not, please add it in - inside double square brackets. There is a sample page for Gyurme Dorje. If your name is already there, simply click on it, and then paste in the text you copied from the sample page (in edit mode). Next, please give short biography of your main teachers, if they are missing. There is a sample page for "Chatral Rinpoche" and "Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche" and Cortland is posting several others as we speak. Remember, you can create links to your own websites. See the syntax on page for "Gyurme Dorje".
I am sending this email out to about 120 of you, and I expect that you will pass it on to the rest of our good lotsawa-friends who you feel have valuable resources and goodwill for us all in the bodhisattva spirit. If for some reason you can’t participate with content right now, please toss some flowers of your good wishes on this project.
Editing access requires user id and password first time you log in. Currently you can just create your own account with a user id and password of your choice. If you experience any difficulty, please email DharmaDictionarynetfirstname.lastname@example.org
And, more than most other websites, this site does change all the time.
Yours in the Dharma,
Erik Pema Kunsang