PureInsight | August 1, 2005
[PureInsight.org] I had always thought that there were few xinxing tests in the English translation group. The reason is two-fold. First, volunteers in the English translation group do not meet with each other like other project groups. Since we have never met each other, we are more polite to each other in our email communications, which is usually the only form of communications for us. Second, English translation is a more technical project so there isn't much room for dispute.
It was not until recently when I translated "Interviews with Artists Featured in the 'Uncompromising Courage' Art Exhibit: Introduction by Professor Zhang Kunlun (II)" that I was inspired to reflect more upon my involvement in the translation group. I realized that I had long regarded the English translation as a purely technical line of work and had failed to treat it as part of my cultivation practice. I also discovered a problematic mentality of mine: When I run into an obstacle, I will put searching inward on the back burner if I can bypass the obstacle with my skills. When I do search inward, that's usually when I have no other choice. This is a problem that comes across the board of my cultivation practice.
I compiled a few problems I have identified lately in my English translation work. I hope they will be of some help to fellow practitioners.
I. Rethink My Notion of Devotion
First, allow me to briefly explain the process of our English translation team: translate a Chinese article into English, verify that the translation reflects the meaning of the original article, polish the translation for the first time, perform verification and polishing for the second time, have it reviewed by the editor, publishing the finalized translation.
I started as a translator. Each time I got the finalized translations, I noticed that the western practitioners spent a lot of time and efforts on polishing my translations. I often wondered, "Why couldn't the Chinese practitioners who did the initial verification do some polishing work to reduce the workload of the western practitioners? Wouldn't this also reduce the total turnaround time?"
Later on when I began to do the verification work of the translations in my team, I would do not only the verification work, but also the polishing bit. I was fully devoted to my work. There is a function in Microsoft Word called Track Changes. It is a function that each translation team uses. When Track Changes is on, everyone's edits will be recorded and marked in a unique color while the untouched translation remains black. Since I became the verifier, each translation coming from my team will be full of edits marked in red. (Microsoft Word marks the first edit as red.) Because I made a lot of edits, the western practitioners did not have to make as many edits or spend as much time doing the edits. The overall turnaround time was also cut down a lot. I was quite pleased with my work.
A few weeks later, a Chinese practitioner A who has a similar level of command in English made her first complaint. She thought I should not have made so many edits on her translation because I did not make "improvement edits," but mostly "preference edits." I can say in all honesty that I wasn't aware of my problem at all. I felt I "should" make a lot of edits to fulfill my responsibility and to show my devotion to the work. I replied to A's email in a humble and friendly manner, but I insisted on showing my devotion in this fashion. She became furious with me when she made the same complaint the following week.
I feared that I would commit a terrible sin if my mistakes or inadequacies might cause fellow practitioners to quit from the team. To prevent A from quitting, I did not touch her next translation at all before I passed it to the next practitioner in the work process. It turned out that all the English practitioners in the remaining process, including the chief editor, made only a few edits of A's translation.
I began to search inward to find whether I had done something wrong, but it was not until lately that I realized that I defined "devotion to translation work" as making a lot of edits or professing a lot of opinions. In my mind, those western practitioners who do not make a lot of edits are dodging work and only those who make a lot of changes are devoted to their work. The western chief editor does not usually make a lot of changes. She once told me that she tries to respect the author or the translator's style. I didn't quite understand the value of her philosophy, but I kept her words in mind.
Not long ago I translated an article titled, "Interviews with Artists Featured in the 'Uncompromising Courage' Art Exhibit: Introduction by Professor Zhang Kunlun (II)." Professor Zhang told a story that was very inspiring to me. He said, "In 1996, I created a modern interactive art creation titled, 'The End of the 20th Century', by which I tried to express the inevitable vicious cycle as the result of modern people's nearsighted solutions. I presented a blank canvas, brushes, paint and an audio recorder for the audience to share their views on the subject. In the end, the canvas was completely covered with paint and with absolutely no space left."
I was very shocked when I read the story. As I said, the untouched translation is in color black. Before I became a "devoted" verifier in the team, the finalized translation would be covered with many different colors of edits, but it would still contain some black text or untouched translation. After I became a "devoted" verifier, there was hardly any black text left in the finalized translation. Each finalized translation from my team was literarily the Word version of Professor Zhang's "The End of the 20th Century!"
It suddenly impressed upon me that I had carried out my idea of being devoted to my translation work by forcing my opinions upon others! Did I really believe that a lot more of different, contradicting opinions from practitioners would improve our Fa-rectification work? I suddenly noticed that the word "devotion" in Chinese is made of two characters 認真. The first character 認 is made of two characters 言 and 忍, which means "speech" and "tolerance"! The second character 真 means truth. I realized that, to be "truly" devoted, one must "endure" differences before one "speaks." If everyone refuses to endure, everyone would be emphasizing his opinions. Eventually there would be too many different opinions and no one will be able to hear or see each other's opinions. The result would be Professor Zhang's interactive artwork, "The End of the 20th Century." When there are too many voices, we would end up canceling each other out.
When I could not endure X's different translation while making the edits, did I add my "true" insights during the edits or did I force my attachments into the translation? I now have a renewed definition of devotion as a cultivator.
Now that I think of it, I would often prepare what "I" want to say before I attended the preparation meetings for the truth-clarification works in my area. Because I lacked "forbearance" before I made a "speech," I was eager to make my opinions known and did not have the patience to listen to different opinions. I would even be eager to object to or misinterpret their ideas. Often times many fellow practitioners in my area were just as "devoted" as I was, so each preparation meeting turned out to be a creation of the voice version of Professor Zhang's "The End of the 20th Century." We would keep arguing and fight for the chance to speak, there was "absolutely no space left."
The truth is that one's devotion should not be measured by the amount of opinions or the amount of edits one makes. If one or more practitioners has come up with a good solution, that is no need to come up and say, "I have an even better solution." It will only waste everyone's time. If I don't say [much] in the preparation meeting, that does not mean I don't care about the truth-clarification project in discussion or that I attended the meeting unprepared. As long as the truth-clarification work will be done well, I will be just as delighted to have fellow practitioners' opinions represent mine.
Teacher said, "So what's their state of mind? It's tolerance, an extremely immense tolerance, being able to accept other beings, and being able to truly think from other beings' perspectives. This is something a lot of you haven't achieved yet in your cultivation, but you're gradually catching on and achieving it. When another God proposes an idea, they aren't eager to reject it, and they aren't eager to express their own ideas and they don't believe that their own ideas are good. Instead, they look at what the end result of the other God's proposed approach will be. The paths are different—everyone's path is different—and the truths that beings validate and enlighten to in the Fa are different, too, but the results might very well be the same. That's why they look at the results, and if the result of a God's idea can achieve the goal, if it can truly achieve it, then all of them will go along with it. That's how Gods think. Also, if there's something lacking in it they'll unconditionally and quietly supplement it to make things more complete and perfect. That's how they handle things." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.")
Teacher said, "So when a God comes here and can't go back, it's not because that filth can't be washed off, but because the realm of his being has been lowered. It's because of the influence of various different concepts and different beings in the cosmos that they can't go back. So what's really polluting me, creating trouble for me, bringing the Fa-rectification trouble, and persecuting Dafa disciples is actually not those filthy elements here but is the cosmos's beings' warped concepts manipulating those elements." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Midwest-U.S. Fa Conference")
Teacher said, "Righteous Gods of course wouldn't behave like the low-level, bad beings that recklessly do evil things. They of course all act in a good way. But that goodness is warped, and there are attachments behind the goodness." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Midwest-U.S. Fa Conference")
Later I began to make fewer and fewer edits, but the quality of the finalized translations was not compromised in any way. On the contrary, now the style and tone became more consistent without my edits. At the time I realized that I had been creating more problems by being completely "devoted" to my work, but I didn't realize my lack of tolerance for different opinions. I thought I was very peaceful and kind to the translators in my team because I had never lost my temper with them. It was not until recently that I realized my kindness was warped and there were attachments behind my kindness.
Teacher said, "But that goodness is warped, and there are attachments behind the goodness." (From "Teaching the Fa at the 2003 Midwest-U.S. Fa Conference")
II. Learn to Be Humble
During my involvement with the translation team, I also discovered that I had superiority complex. For those practitioners whose command of English was below par, I was very kind and patient to them because I thought I was above them. For those practitioners whose command of English was better than mine, I would speak my mind without tolerance. I would be crusty and abrasive. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally realized that I had been acting like a prima donna because I felt I have a slightly better command in English. But those fellow practitioners who cultivate better dared not ask me to leave the team because they did not want to block any fellow practitioner from doing Dafa work.
I was humbled by the fact that the quality of the finalized translations was not compromised even though I made fewer edits. Besides, without the busy colors of edits on the computer monitor, it became easier for the practitioners in the subsequent flow of process to read and edit the translations. I had thought that I was indispensable, but the truth is that I had been making negative contributions. It was a great lesson to my cultivation practice. I must learn to be more humble and I must not be arrogant any longer.
A late Chinese writer Mr. Tang Lusun once told a story in one of his books. There is an old Chinese idiom, "There won't be any cake without eggs." During the civil war between the Kuomingtang (the National Party) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the CCP's army repeatedly attacked the Beipiao Coal Mine where Mr. Tang worked at the time. For the safety of the mineworkers' families, he arranged for them to leave the mine and take a train to Jinzhou. The trip was supposed to take only one day. But there was a major traffic jam on the rail line because of the war, and the mineworkers' families, which filled 4 whole railcars, had to stay overnight at the Yi County Train Station. The grownups were able to endure the hunger for a night, but it posed a big problem for those families with babies or small toddlers.
As Mr. Tang Lusun was pacing on the platform anxiously, a retired employee residing in Yi County heard the news and came to see him. He brought a box of small cakes as a gift to Mr. Tang. Mr. Tang was delighted. It was most timely assistance! He immediately produced all the money he had and asked the retired employee to buy as many cakes as possible. The man ran all over the area around the train station, but he could find only 17 boxes of small cakes for the four railcars of people. So Mr. Tang divided the small cakes among the families with babies and small children. Those families softened the cakes by soaking them in hot water and then fed the cakes to their small children.
Mr. Tang had one small cake himself. He found that it tasted sweet enough, but it was coarse. Apparently the cake was made of dough that hadn't risen sufficiently. During the wartime, eggs and sugar had become rare commodities. The cakes were made of honey, corn flour and a very small amount of wheat flour.
Mr. Tang Lusun said in his book, "This experience has confirmed my disbelief in the idiom that there won't be any cake without eggs. There is a type of arrogant man who believes that nothing can be done without him and constantly acts like a prima donna. Even during the wartime when the egg was rare, people in Yi County managed to make cakes without eggs. There is an idiom: 'There is no real challenge in the world, except in the eye of a man without a will of iron.' This is a good lesson for us all."
Lately a practitioner has kindly reminded us of the law of mutual promotion and restriction. Since I had superiority complex and acted like a prima donna, it must be because I suffered from inferiority complex and constantly sought recognition. I acted like a prima donna because I wanted to see proof that I am important to fellow practitioners. Actually, I am already the luckiest life in the universe to be able to obtain the Fa. I am already Teacher's disciple. What better recognition could I possibly get?
Because practitioners in the translation team rarely have the chance to meet each other and rarely share their cultivation experiences, it might be more difficult to detect or expose their attachments. I hope my humble insights will be of some inspiration to them. Thank you.