Erick Tsiknopoulos (Sherab Zangpo)
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Revision as of 15:08, 25 July 2012
Erick Tsiknopoulos (Sherab Zangpo) is an American translator of Tibetan to English, a teacher of Tibetan language, an editor and proofreader, a writer, and a poet. His most famous works include the translations on his blog Sugatagarbha Translations, and his current projects of translating the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the Sutra of Golden Light (Ārya Suvarṇaprabhā Sottama Sūtrendra Rāja Nama Mahāyāna Sūtra) and the complete Yuthok Nyingthik. He is the founder of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group.
Erick Tsiknopoulos (Sherab Zangpo), was born on October 15th, 1981 and grew up on the east and west coasts of the USA. He has been a student of Buddhism since 1999, and has been studying Tibetan language since 2004. He has been living in India and Nepal studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, and Tibetan language since 2007, in Darjeeling, rural Himachal Pradesh, Kathmandu, and Dharamsala. In addition to regular private classes with khenpos, geshes, and other teachers, he has studied at the Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture, the Thosam Ling Institute, and Dzongsar Shedra, and is currently studying Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics.
He has translated hundreds of Tibetan works into English, many of which are available for viewing on his website, Sugatagarbha Translations. He has also translated several texts for publication, including works by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, and Khunu Lama Rinpoche II, a historical guidebook to Yeshe Tsogyal’s birthplace, and various texts for Western Dharma centers. Fluent in spoken Tibetan as well as literary Tibetan, he has also translated orally for several Buddhist teachers.
At present, his main translation projects are the 29 and 31 chapter versions of the Sutra of Golden Light, the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche’s commentary on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices, and the complete Yuthok Nyingthik (the main spiritual practice cycle for Tibetan medical practitioners), all of which will be published.
He currently lives in Dharamsala, India.
Erick is the main translator of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and the main translator of most of the translations on the website Sugatagarbha Translations.
He is available for contact at email@example.com.
Began studying Tibetan in 2004. Has been living in India and Nepal from 2007 to the present. Has studied at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture, the Thosam Ling Institute, and Dzongsar Shedra, as well as private classes with geshes and khenpos, and is currently studying at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics.
- Sunlight Blessings that Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of the Khunu Mahasattva, Tenzin Gyeltsen [Khunu Lama Rinpoche], by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche
- 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
- The Noble One's Downpour of Blessings: A Commentary on Thangtong Gyalpo's Chenrezig Sadhana 'For the Benefit of Beings Pervading Space', by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche
- The Lamp of Advice Which Illuminates That Which Is To Be Adopted And Abandoned, by Khunu Lama Rinpoche II
- Manjushri, Green Tara, and Medicine Buddha practice texts/sadhanas
- The Maha-Lakshmi Sutra
- The Extensive Sutra of Golden Light: The 29 and 31 Chapter Versions (Ārya Suvarṇaprabhā Sottama Sūtrendra Rāja Nama Mahāyāna Sūtra)
- Entry Point of the Conqueror's Heirs: A Commentary on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices, by the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche
- The Yuthok Nyingthik: Root Text and Commentary
- The Splendid Wish-Fulfilling Treasure Vase: A Little Book of Mantras for All Kinds of Jobs, by Ju Mipham Rinpoche
- The Compendium of Daily Name-Recitation and Dharani Practices, by the 7th Panchen Lama
Unpublished Works (completed)
- Melodious and Delightful Laughter: A Clearly-Expressed Chronicle of the Sacred Site of Drakda Lamtso, the Life-Force Lake of Yeshe Tsogyal
- and hundreds of others, some of which are available for viewing at the blog Empty Elephant
Erick Tsiknopoulos was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His mother is of Norwegian and Swedish heritage, and his father of Greek, German, 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. 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 Northern California. Both his parents were active members of the counter-culture revolution of the 60s and 70s, and 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 the government program for special-needs and underprivileged children Head Start. He has one younger brother, Wesley.
After being born in Gettysburg, his family moved to Sacramento, where he spent the first year of his life. The family then moved back to the Gettysburg area, where they lived until he was 8 years old. The family moved to Florida briefly, 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 family still resides.
From an early age, Erick was mostly interested in reading. In particular, he was interested in mythology, the paranormal, legends, epics, fantasy, and science fiction.
In high school he took a keen interest in foreign languages, literature, philosophy, Asian cultures, Eastern religion, and especially Buddhism. At the age of 18, during his senior year of high school, he formally became a Buddhist. From then on, he constantly read everything about Buddhism that he could. He stayed at a Theravada monastery for about one month (The Bhavana Society in West Virginia), where he studied with Bhante Rahula and Bhante Gunaratana, one of the foremost Sri Lankan Buddhist masters. He also took a strong interest in Chinese Buddhism, especially due to its syncretic approach. In particular, he was almost always reading various Buddhist sutras, a habit which he still maintains.
Post High School and Early Twenties
After graduating high school in 2000, he moved to Humboldt County, California, first to Eureka and then in 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, teaching elementary school children about recycling. His experiences in Arcata, renowned as one of the most progressive and eccentric college towns in America, allowed him to explore a variety of different lifestyles, provided him with an abundance of interesting experiences and encounters with various artists, writers, poets, activists, and musicians, and also exposed him 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. During this time he also had a kind of poetic apprenticeship with Crawdad Nelson, one of the most popular Northern Californian poets, and befriended many musicians. He spent most of his time from late 2000 to early 2005 in Arcata, in total a little less than 4 years.
In 2002, he traveled to Southern California and Arizona, traveling to various towns in an adventurous spirit, and worked a season 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. Later that year, he started college for the first time (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, he met his first Tibetan Buddhist teachers, Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche and Lama Orgyen Zangpo. During this time, his reading interests and exposure to various ideas and philosophies greatly expanded. That summer, he again spent time at the Theravada monastery in West Virginia, studying further 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 serious study 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 began to become extremely interested in Tibetan Buddhism, as he attending teachings regularly with his teachers.
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.
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 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.
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 began his formal study of Tibetan language during this time.
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: he traveled to India to study Tibetan.
In India in 2008, he stayed in Dharamsala briefly, lived in Bir for two months living and teaching English at Chokling Gompa, and stayed for two weeks in Tashi Jong. During this period, he spent most of his time studying classical Tibetan in isolation at the top of Chokling Monastery's highest tower. He then traveled to Darjeeling, where he studied spoken and literary Tibetan for 5 months at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture, in particular with his teacher Gen Dawa. In Darjeeling he lived first at the Drukpa Kagyu monastery Dzigar Gompa and then in his own apartment. Due to the political unrest in Darjeeling at that time, he also traveled to Kathmandu for one month. In late 2008, due to financial problems and other concerns, he returned to the United States for about 8 months, living in Pittsburgh and Uniontown.
In June 2009, he returned to India, where at first he lived in Sidhpur/Norbulingka and studied at the Thosam Ling Institute and 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 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 Lama Rinpoche II. He then studied at Dzongsar Shedra in Chauntra for about five months. After that, he moved back to Sidhpur/Norbulingka. He translated briefly for Chamtrul Rinpoche in McLeod Ganj. After this, he finished his translation of Manjushri, Green Tara, and Medicine Buddha sadhanas for an American Dharma center. In late 2010, he conceived the project of 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 teachings with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In 2011, he lived in Norbulingka, Kathmandu, and Darjeeling. Early in the year, he continued his studies with Serta Khenpo Choeying and Geshe Tsewang Nyima of Thosam Ling, studying Madhyamaka with both of them. He translated 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. He also began his online Tibetan teaching service, 'Learn Tibetan at Home', and helped Serta Khenpo Choeying found the organization and website for the Mipham Lineage Preservation Association, of which he is the main translator. He spent three months in Kathmandu in the summer, and moved to Darjeeling in October. In late 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.
Erick Tsiknopoulos is presently at the age of 30. In late 2011 and early 2012 he lived in Darjeeling and continued his Tibetan language and Buddhist studies with his teachers Gen Dawa Tsering and Geshe Tenzin Ludrup. He continued to work on his various translation projects, finished the Sunlight Blessings Which Cure the Longing of Remembrane: A Biography of Khunu Lama Rinpoche by Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, studied the Akashagarbha Sutra with Geshe Tenzin Ludrup, and translated on Sundays for Geshe Tenzin Ludrub's Dharma teachings. He then 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 base in India, where he studies at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, focusing on Buddhist philosophy.
- The Complete Sutra of Golden Light -- The Sugatagarbha Translation Group's Project to Translate the Extensive Sutra of Golden Light: The 29 and 31 Chapter Versions
- Empty Elephant: New Tibetan Buddhist Translation and More
- Learn Tibetan at Home: A Tibetan Language Teaching Service Provided by Erick Tsiknopoulos
- The Erick Tsiknopoulos entry on Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
numerous sutras, prayers, and commentaries
commentaries on Samantabhadra's King of Prayers, Maitreya's Prayer, the Bodhicharyavatara Prayer, the Sukhavati Prayer, and the Bodhisattva's Confession of Downfalls
Can your oral/written translation skills be engaged?