Erick Tsiknopoulos (b. 1981) is a translator of Buddhist texts and a scholar-practitioner of Buddhism. He has been practicing the Buddhist path since 1999, and began studying Tibetan language in 2004. He engaged in an intensive study of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan language in the Himalayan region of India and Nepal for 11 years from 2008 to 2019, where he lived primarily in Dharamsala and other towns in Himachal Pradesh, and to a lesser extent in Darjeeling and Kathmandu. There he studied Tibetan literature and Buddhist teachings closely with learned Tibetan scholars and respected Buddhist teachers, while experiencing daily life within this culturally and linguistically immersive Tibetan environment. Having spent over a decade integrating into Tibetan society in South Asia, he is highly fluent in colloquial Tibetan, which aids him greatly in both his translations and language teaching.
During his time in India and Nepal he attended important teachings and received numerous precious blessings and empowerments from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin (Gongma Trichen) Rinpoche, His Holiness Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, His Eminence Denma Lochö Rinpoche, His Eminence Lama Zöpa Rinpoche and many other Tibetan lamas on a frequent basis. His main Tibetan Buddhist teacher and root guru (rtsa ba'i bla ma) in Vajrayāna Buddhism was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
In India he studied modern spoken and literary Tibetan with Gen Dawa Tsering and others at the Manjushree Centre of Tibetan Culture (2008, 2011-12), Buddhist tenets with Geshe Tsewang Nyima at the Thösam Ling Institute (2009), Buddhist dialectics, debate and epistemology with various khenpos at Dzongsar Shedra (Dzongsar Chökyi Lodrö College of Dialectics, 2010), Buddhist philosophy with Geshe Lobsang Tsöndu at the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives (2012), Buddhist theory and praxis with Geshe Lobsang Dawa at the Institute of Buddhist Dialects (2012-16), and in particular, extensive classes in Tibetan textual analysis and Buddhist hermeneutics for a period of 3 years on a daily basis with Gen Lobzang Gyatso at the Esukhia Instute (Nangten Sizhu Khang, 2012-15). He also studied Buddhist texts closely in private lessons with Geshe Tenzin Ludrup in Darjeeling (2008, 2011-12), Serta Khenpo Chöying in Sidhpur/Norbulingka (2009-11) and other geshes and khenpos. For colloquial Tibetan, his main teacher was Gen Karma Chubzang (Ngawang Dekyi), who from 2009 to 2018 patiently brought him to the level of near-native fluency in spoken Tibetan over the course of 9 years.
Erick Tsiknopoulos is referred to as Sheyrab Zangpo (shes rab bzang po, 'Excellent Insight') by some Tibetans, a Dharma name given to him by Khentrul Lodrö Thaye Rinpoche in 2004. He also bears the name "Dewae Ngödrub" (bde ba'i dngos grub, 'Blissful Siddhi') bestowed upon him by the late His Eminence Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche. He has taken Refuge, the Lay Precepts (Upāsaka) and the Bodhisattva Vows numerous times, including several times under His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
He has been working professionally as a textual Tibetan-English translator since 2009, and since then has translated hundreds of Tibetan texts into English. Over the years he has completed commissioned translations for a multitude of Dharma centers, Buddhist organizations and private individuals around the world. He has translated a wide array of Tibetan literature, in particular scriptures from the Tibetan Canon and Tantric ritual texts (sādhanā), and is familiar with most topics of Buddhist doctrine and Tibetan literary genres, including philosophical writings and esoteric doctrines.
His translation works have been published in a multitude of formats, including printed books. His translations and essays have been cited in several publications and academic articles. He has also served as an oral interpreter for Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the USA, India and Nepal.
In addition to translation, Erick Tsiknopoulos has worked as a Tibetan language instructor since 2011, teaching classical, spoken colloquial and modern literary Tibetan. His unique linguistic skills and broad depth of knowledge in translation and language instruction are widely sought by educational institutions, Buddhist organizations and serious students of Tibetan internationally, including translation training schools in India.
Aside from Tibetan, he also done significant study of Japanese, Sanskrit, Pali and Hindi, has studied multiple other languages, and is currently working on Chinese and Romanian, among others. Further, he has considerable familiarity with other (non-Tibetan) Buddhist traditions, especially Zen/Ch'an, but also Theravada, Pure Land and Nichiren, and he is conversant in their respective doctrines, histories and particular systems, as well as those of Tientai/Tendai and Huayen. He has completed the equivalent of a Master's degree in Buddhist Studies through the International Buddhist College (Thailand) and the University of South Wales (UK), and studies Pali through the University of Oxford. In terms of his personal practice, he is currently training to become a Buddhist lay priest and Dharma teacher under the guidance of his spiritual masters.
Erick Tsiknopoulos is the founder of Trikāya Translations and the Trikāya Tibetan Linguistic Academy. He is a regular contributor to the Rangjung Yeshe Dharma Dictionary (under the auspices of the Tsadra Foundation), for which he has been the most prolific author of new dictionary entries on the site since its inception in 2005. He aims to help make Tibetan literature, Tibetan language and the teachings of the Buddhadharma more widely available and better understood.
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- TibetanTranslations.com The main website of Erick Tsiknopoulos.