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November 30, 1973, Friday evening.
On Proper Procedures for Translating and Publishing Sutras
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
Now I have a matter to tell all of you. At Gold Mountain Monastery, the monks and nuns and laypeople work together to translate the sutras of Buddhism. We first translate those sutras that weíve understood, and after the translations are done, we print them. However, it is not the case that the translator takes his or her own translation and goes to find a printer and arrange to print it. That is not the correct way to do things.
After our first translation, of the Sixth Patriarchís Platform Sutra, was completed, it was printed in the name of our Buddhist Text Translation Society. We printed it. But in Hong Kong , one of our monks did not like the idea of using the name of the Buddhist Text Translation Society, so he did away with it. That was a great mistake. In the future, no matter who translates the sutras, they cannot go by themselves to make arrangements for printing.
With the Earth Store Sutra, Guo Ning personally approached a wealthy and influential layman who came to visit Gold Mountain Monastery. Guo Ning recommended himself and his translation of that sutra, and went about quietly convincing that layman to publish his translation. This has been one of the most shameful and worthless things that someone from Gold Mountain Monastery has done.
Now some other translations are done, and some monks are following that precedent-setting mistake that Guo Ning made . Promoting your own translation and trying to get to them printed is a terrible mistake. It shows a selfish heart, a heart that is after fame and profit. You have not liberated yourself from the wish for fame and profit. All of us at Gold Mountain Monastery should avoid being like common, worldly people. If we do not see this point clearly, how are we any different from anyone else in the world?
Now the translation of the Lotus Sutra has been completed, and those three monks in Hong Kong have taken charge of printing it. To do that is not in accord with Dharma. It is totally wrong. In the future, whenever someone finishes a translation, he or she has to hand it over to the Buddhist Text Translation Society, which will send it to be printed. Thatís the right way to do it. If you donít want to do that, then you neednít bother translating.
Timely Teachings, page 95-96.