ABOUT ERICK TSIKNOPOULOS & THE SUGATAGARBHA TRANSLATION GROUP
The Sugatagarbha Translation Group is a coalition of translators, formed and headed by Erick Tsiknopoulos, which is dedicated to translating the important texts of Buddhist, Tibetan and Sanskrit literature into English; and facilitating their translation from English into other languages.
Sugatagarbha is a Sanskrit word which refers to the Buddha Nature, the potential for enlightenment and awakening within all sentient beings. It literally means “womb, matrix or essence of the Sugata”. Sugata is another word for a Buddha, and means “one gone to bliss” or “Bliss Gone One”. Garbha means “womb” or “matrix”.
Thus we hope that our Dharma translations will, long into the future, ever help living beings go (-gata) to the essence (-garbha) of bliss (su-).
Erick Tsiknopoulos (b. 1981) is an American translator of Tibetan, a scholar, researcher and postgraduate student in Buddhist Studies, a teacher and tutor of Tibetan language, a writer and editor, a voracious reader in various subjects, and an experienced world traveler. He is the founder and primary Tibetan translator of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and the creator of their main website, Tibetan-Translations.com, which currently features English translations of over 400 Tibetan texts. Many of his translations have been published in various forms, including as books.
He has been a student of Buddhism since 1999, a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 2003, and a student of Tibetan language since 2005. He has been translating Tibetan texts into English since 2007, has been based in India and Nepal studying Tibetan language and Buddhism intensively and translating Tibetan texts since 2008, and has been working professionally as a Tibetan-English translator and interpreter since 2009.
Since 2008, he has lived mostly in India and Nepal studying Tibetan language and Buddhism. He also occasionally travels throughout Asia and Europe. He is currently working towards a Master’s of Arts (MA) degree in Buddhist Studies through the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He also completed one year of MA coursework in Buddhist Studies through the International Buddhist College, Thailand.
In addition, he has also translated extensive portions of two side projects, the Tibetan edition of the 29 and 31 Chapter Versions of the Sūtra of Golden Light (suvarṇaprabhā-sottama-sūtra), the Tibetan edition of the Lotus Sūtra (saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra) and its sole Tibetan commentary, and in particular, most of the large collection of texts comprising the Heart Sphere of Yuthok (g.yu thog snying thig) the main Tantric Buddhist practice cycle for practitioners of Traditional Tibetan Medicine); all of which are planned for publication.
Many of his translations have been published; most of these are available for viewing on Tibetan-Translations.com. He has translated hundreds of Tibetan texts into English, many of which are available for viewing on his main website, Tibetan-Translations.com.
He has translated numerous works by modern Tibetan teachers, such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (Tendzin Gyatso), His Holiness Sakya Trichen Gongma Rinpoché, Ngawang Künga Tekchen Pelbar (the 41st Sakya Trizin), His Holiness Düdjom Rinpoché (Jigdrel Yéshey Dorjé), His Holiness Trulzhik Rinpoché (Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö), His Holiness Khenpo Jigmey Püntsok Rinpoché, His Eminence Chobgyé Trichen Rinpoché (Lobzang Tubten Rinchen Legshay Gyatsoi Dé), His Eminence Dzongsar Khyentsé Rinpoche I (Chӧkyi Lodrӧ), Khunu Lama Rinpoché I (Tendzin Gyeltsen), His Eminence the 10th Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché, His Eminence Lamchen Gyelpo Rinpoché, His Eminence Khunu Lama Rinpoché II (Khunu Negi Rinpoché), Katok Rigdzin Chenpo Rinpoché (Payma Wangchen Dorjé), Yongdzin Loppön Tendzin Namdak Rinpoché, Tsangpa Tulku Rigchok Rinpoché, Bönpo Géshey Sheyrab Püntsok, Māratika Dungdzin Rinpoché (Ngawang Jigdrel Chökyi Wangchuk), Chöying Rigpay Dorjé Rinpoché, Géshey Namdra Tubten Yarpel, and Dr. Nida Chengatsang; and classic Tibetan authors such as Ju Mipham Rinpoché (Jamyang Namgyel Gyamtso), Jé Tsongkhapa (Lobzang Drakpa), Longchenpa (Longchen Rabjam), Sachen Künga Nyingpo, Düdjom Lingpa, Śākya Chokden (Serdok Paṇchen), Milarepa, Karma Chagmey (Rāga Asya), Chöjé Marpa Sheyrab Yéshey, King Songtsen Gampo, Nyakla Payma Düddul, Tertön Sögyel, Terchen Trulzhik Dongak Lingpa, Takbu Yongdzin Yéshey Gyatso, Gatön Ngawang Legpa, and Gendün Chöpel. He has also produced the primary translations for official letters from the Office of the 17th Karmapa, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and Saymo Saraswatī (the daughter of the late Chatral Rinpoché, Sanggyay Dorjé).
In particular, he has translated a large and ever increasing number of Mahāyāna sūtras, dhāraṇī scriptures, and Tantric works from the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptural Canon (the Kangyur). He has provided his textual and oral translation services to several Tibetan Buddhist Dharma centers, in both the West and East. In addition, he has also served as the main textual translator for His Eminence Khenchen Lama Pelgyeypa Dorjé Rinpoché, a renowned master of the Nyingma school, since 2010.
He was born on October 15th, 1981 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (USA). His early life, until the age of 19, was spent mostly in Southwestern Pennsylvania; but in young adulthood he lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States. He has been an avid student of Buddhism since 1999. He took the Refuge and Pratimokṣa lay precepts several times in 2000, thus formally becoming a Buddhist; and graduated high school in the same year. From 1999 to 2003, he explored Buddhism in many traditions: Sri Lankan Theravāda (the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery, West Virginia), Japanese and Chinese Pure Land (on-line), Japanese Sōtō Zen (at the Arcata Zen Center, California), Chinese Ch’an (at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, California), and others. In 2003, he began a more intensive study and practice of Buddhism within the Tibetan tradition under the guidance of qualified teachers in California and Oregon. Since then, he has studied and/or practiced within all four major schools of Tibetan Vajrayāna Buddhism, but in particular Nyingma, Géluk and Sakya.
In 2000, he moved to Humboldt County, California; where he worked two one-year domestic service terms as an environmental/recycling educator, and English literacy tutor, respectively. From 2000 to 2007, he traveled extensively within the United States, and lived, if sometimes briefly, in six different American states: California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and his home state of Pennsylvania; but mostly in California, where he spent about 5 years total from 2000 to 2005. During this same time period (2002-2007), he also worked in four different national parks and resorts; including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Olympic National Parks, as well as an Alaskan hot springs resort. He attended two community colleges in Eureka, California and Eugene, Oregon for a total of two years of coursework, where he mainly studied Japanese language and Massage Therapy in intensive courses; but also Greek Mythology and Environmental Ethics. He traveled in Japan for six months in 2005, where he studied Japanese language, culture and religion in the Saitama, Mie and Kyōtō prefectures; and there also volunteered as an English teacher.
In 2003, he began to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism under Lama Orgyen Zangpo and other lamas from the Chagdud Gompa and Katok lineages; in particular Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoché, an eminent scholar and teacher from Katok Monastery in Tibet, from whom he received many teachings on various topics of Dharma, including extensive study in Mahāyāna Mind Training (theg pa chen po’i blo sbyong), Madhyamaka, philosophical tenet systems, and many aspects of Vajrayāna practice, at different locations in the US from 2003 to 2007.
In India, he has studied mainly in the Nyingma, Géluk and Sakya traditions of Tibetan Buddhism under various teachers, since 2008. In addition to his Tibetan and Vajrayāna Buddhist studies and practice, his other Buddhist interests include the Ch’an/Zen, Tientai/Tendai, and Huayen/Kegon schools, along with their scriptural foundations of the Lotus Sūtra, Avataṃsaka Sūtra, and other sūtras of the ‘Third Turning of the Dharma Wheel’ class, the Ekayāna (One Vehicle) approach; and Buddhist scriptures which are oriented toward the subject of Buddha-Nature generally.
He has been studying Tibetan language since 2004. He started a more serious study of the language in 2005 through self-study and the help of experienced Tibetan translator-tutors; and in 2007 began translating Tibetan texts. Since late December 2007, he has been living for the vast majority of the time in India (and sometimes Nepal); where he has been continuously engaged in an immersive, multifaceted and holistic study of Tibetan language, culture, literature and philosophy, alongside his ongoing Tibetan-English translation work and research.
In India and Nepal, he has studied at various centers of Tibetan learning; in Bir, Darjeeling, Sidhpur-Norbulingka, Chauntra, Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj (roughly in that order). In addition to frequent private classes with khenpos, geshes and other Tibetan scholars, he has studied at the Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture, the Thösam Ling Institute, Dzongsar Shedra (the Dzongsar Institute of Buddhist Philosophy and Dialectics), the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Namgyal Dratsang (His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s monastery), and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (which is connected to Namgyel Dratsang). From 2012 to 2015, he studied through the Esukhia Institute (Nangten Sizhu Khang) with Professor Lobzang Gyatso, a learned Tibetan scholar of Buddhist philosophy, medicine, astrology and literature from Amdo in northeastern Tibet; who guided him skillfully in the art of linguistic, philosophical and hermeneutic analysis of Tibetan Buddhist texts. He continues to seek the knowledge and guidance of Professor Gyatso for his translations long distance, from his new home in Sweden, on a regular basis through the Internet.
Fluent in both spoken/colloquial Tibetan and literary/classical Tibetan, he has also translated orally for several Buddhist teachers, including His Eminence Khorchak Tulku Rinpoché, Géshey Tendzin Ludrup, His Eminence Sangngak Tenzin Rinpoché, the late His Eminence Khensur Denma Lochö Rinpoché, His Eminence Lobsang Chögyël Rinpoché, and Géshey Tséwang Nyima. He utilizes his fluency in colloquial Tibetan and literacy in modern literary Tibetan to ensure quality and accuracy in his translations, through analyzing any difficult points in the Tibetan texts directly with Tibetan scholars in the spoken and written Tibetan mediums.
From the letter of recommendation by Professor Lobzang Gyatso, written in 2013:
“Now, to elaborate on the subject at hand, my student, the young American scholar known as Erick (Tsiknopoulos): He is of good and kind character; and is an intellectual of broad understanding and discernment. He has studied the Sanskrit, Pāli, Japanese, Hindi, Russian and Spanish languages in addition to Tibetan and his native language of English. He has a good knowledge of Sanskrit Buddhist terminology; and in Japan he attained a high level of ability in Japanese language. For over ten years (c. 2013), he has studied a great deal of the Mahāyāna and Secret Mantra (Vajrayāna) Dharma teachings of the Nyingma tradition in America and India, with many great Buddhist teachers; as well as the teachings of the other three main Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He has attended and studied many teachings on Mind Training, Emptiness, Madhyamaka, Tantra, and various other important Buddhist topics.
He has attended and studied at many schools in both America and India. In America, he studied Japanese language, Massage Therapy and many other subjects at two colleges in America. In India, he has studied literary and colloquial Tibetan at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture in Darjeeling, Tibetan language and Buddhist subjects such as Philosophical Tenets (grub mtha’, siddhānta) and Madhyamaka (dbu ma) at the Thösam Ling Institute in Sidhpur-Norbulingka, the Sūtra on Recollecting the Three Jewels (dkon mchog gsum rjes su dran pa’i mdo), Types of Mental Cognition (blo rigs), Types of Reasons (rtags rigs), Tibetan Buddhist philosophical debate, Collected Debate Topics (bsdus grwa), and Tibetan grammar (sum rtags) at Dzongsar Shedra (Dzongsar Chökyi Lodrö Institute of Buddhist Dialectics) in Chauntra, Philosophical Tenets, Collected Debate Topics, the Seventy Topics of the Abhisamayālaṅkāra (don bdun bcu), and Śāntideva’s Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra (jang chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa) at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Path (lam rim chen mo), Tibetan grammar, and Prajñā-pāramitā (Abhisamayālaṅkāra) at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj; and Prajñā-pāramitā (Abhisamayālaṅkāra with its commentary by Panchen Sönam Drakpa), Stages of the Path (lam rim) literature, at Namgyal Monastery, the main temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In addition, he has also frequently attended private classes with various Buddhist scholars such as khenpo-s and géshey-s; in which he has studied subjects such as the Gyeltsab Darma Rinchen’s commentary on the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, Ju Mipam Rinpoché’s Gateway to Knowledge (mkhas ‘jug), Torch of Certainty (nges shes sgron me), and commentary to Chanting the Names of Mañjuśrī (mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, ‘jam dpal mtshan brjod), Tsongkhapa’s praise to Mañjuśrī, Types of Mental Cognitions, Types of Reasons, the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra (nam mkha’i snying po’i mdo), and so forth.
Since 2012, he has studied through the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings (Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang) with me; and together we have reviewed the Sūtra of Golden Light (ārya-suvarṇaprabhā-sottama-sūtrendra-rāja), a collection of sūtra-s (mdo tshan phyogs sgrigs), a text on the negative karmic retributions of guns (me mda’i nyes dmigs); and in particular, his extensive translations of the large compilation of practices related to the Heart Sphere of Yutok (g.yu thog snying thig). I have gone over his translations of these texts with him, and have provided him with additional commentary and explanation. Based on this, I believe that his translation skills are exceptional and outstanding.
He is also currently (c. 2013) doing oral translation on a regular basis for Tibetan Buddhist subjects such as Tsongkhapa’s Three Principle Aspects of the Path (lam gtso rnam gsum) and the Four Noble Truths for an accomplished lama named Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoché.
His level of aptitude in literary and classical Tibetan language is immense; and his spoken Tibetan language and powers of expression are excellent. In particular, he has trained and continues to train in a profound and deep research of the Buddhist teachings. He is a resourceful young man of strong intelligence; who holds an aspiration to spread and promulgate Buddhism in a far-reaching way. And he is someone who has vast future ambitions to accomplish great service for the Buddhist teachings in their entirety; due to the fact that he has the aim of helping to establish peace and happiness in the world.”
The published works of Erick Tsiknopoulos & the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and translations which have been published or printed using paper or electronic formats for the wide spread use of the public, include, but are not limited to, the following texts:
- Melodious and Delightful Laughter: A Clearly-Expressed Chronicle of the Sacred Site of Drakda Lamtso, the Life-Force Lake of Yéshey Tsogyel, by Kelzang Lhündrub, published by the Jnanasukha Foundation, 2009
- The Mahālakṣmīni Sūtra (Mahāśrī Sūtra), a Mahāyāna sūtra, 2009, published by World of Feng Shui, 2010 (uncredited)
- The Lamp of Advice Which Illuminates That Which Is To Be Adopted And Abandoned, by Khunu Negi Rinpoché (Khunu Lama Rinpoche II), 2010
- Mañjuśrī, Green Tārā, and Medicine Buddha sādhanā practice texts, published by Sakya Dokho Ling, a Sakya center in the USA, 2010
- The Prayer to Padmasambhava and the Four Elemental Goddesses for Pacifying Disasters Arising from the Elements, published widely online, 2010
- The Noble One’s Downpour of Blessings: A Commentary on T’angtong Gyëlpo’s Chenrezig Sādhanā ‘For the Benefit of Beings Pervading Space’, by the 10th Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché, 2011, published as a book by Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché’s monastery in Nepal, 2012
- The Lamp of Pristine Wisdom: A Commentary on Karma Chagmé’s Mañjuśrī Sādhanā ‘Clearing Away the Darkness of Delusion’, by the 10th Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché, 2011, published as a book by Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché’s monastery in Nepal, 2012
- Sunlight Blessings that Cure the Longing of Remembrance: A Biography of the Khunu Mahāsattva, Tenzin Gyelts’en (Khunu Lama Rinpoché), by Lamchen Gyelpo Rinpoché, published in the USA, 2012
- The Prayer for the Swift Rebirth of the 9th Khalkha Jetsün Dampa Rinpoché, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 2012 (used by Jonang Dharma centers internationally)
- Prayer for the Swift Rebirth of Dungsay Thinley Norbu Rinpoché, by the 10th Sangyé Nyenpa Rinpoché, published widely for the use of the Buddhist community, 2012
- The Prayer to the Three Great Stūpas of Nepal, by Düdjom Rinpoché (Jigdrel Yéshey Dorjé), published by Khenpo Tenzin Shedrup, India, 2012.
- Several Dzogchen texts for Bön Shen Ling, a center in New York City, USA (uncredited), 2012
- The Negative Retributions of Guns as Seen in the Reviving Hell: An Extract from the Visions of Each Hell, by Nyala Pema Düddul, published in China, 2013
- The Concise Medicine Buddha Sūtra, a text from the Kangyur (the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptural Canon), published by Thekchen Chöling Singapore, 2013
- The 108 Names of the Exalted Jambhala, a text from the Kangyur (the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptural Canon), published by Thekchen Chöling Singapore, 2014
- The Incantation for Protecting and Increasing Wealth and Riches (Imbued with Golden Light, the Dhāraṇī of All Yakṣas], a text from the Kangyur (the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptural Canon), published by Thekchen Chöling Singapore, 2015
- Great Treasury of Blessings: Aspiration Verses for the Long Life of Khenchen Lama Pelgyeypa Dorjé Rinpoché, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 2015
- A Brief Biography of Ngawang Yéshey Tubten [Rabjampa Ngawang Lobzang] (ngag dbang ye shes thub bstan, c. 1807-15 to c. 1889-97), for The Treasury of Lives website (www.treasuryoflives.org), 2015
- Saraswatī’s Letter to Chatral Rinpoché’s Students (January 9th, 2016), for the student community of Chatral Rinpoché, Sanggyay Dorje, 2016
- Letter from the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Regarding the Passing of Chatral Rinpoché, Sanggyay Dorjé (January 12, 2016), 2016
- Spontaneous Accomplishment of Awakened Activity: An Offering Invocation to the Great Lion, Gésar the Gem, by Ju Mipham Rinpoché (Jamyang Namgyel Gyamtso), published in Malaysia, 2016
- Bringing Down the Compassionate Blessings of the Great Lion, King of the World (Gésar), by Ju Mipham Rinpoché (Jamyang Namgyel Gyamtso), published in Malaysia, 2016
- The Magnetizing Practice of King Gésar, by Ju Mipham Rinpoché (Jamyang Namgyel Gyamtso), published in Malaysia, 2016
- Letter from the Office of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa (August 5th, 2016), 2016
- The Water Offering of All-Pervading Ambrosial Nectar: From the ‘Treasury of the Expansive Sky of Dharmatā’, a Treasure Teaching (gter ma) of Düdjom Lingpa, published by the Vairostana Foundation (organization of Bhakha Tulku Rinpoché), 2017
- The Water Offering of a Treasure Trove of Ambrosial Nectar: From the ‘Treasury of the Expansive Sky of Dharmatā’, a Treasure Teaching (gter ma) of Düdjom Lingpa, published by the Vairostana Foundation (organization of Bhakha Tulku Rinpoché) 2017
- Sanctifying Smoke Offering to the Great God Gaṇapati, by Karma Chagmey (Rāga Asya), published by the Vairostana Foundation (organization of Bhakha Tulku Rinpoché), 2017
- Dredging the Depths of Deepest Hell: The Concise King of Confessions of Purifying Remorse, by Trulzhik Rinpoché (Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- Extremely Concise Practices of Sanctifying Incense (Sang) and Golden Beverage Offerings (Serkyem), a compilation of texts by Terchen Trulzhik Dongak Lingpa, Trulzhik Rinpoché (Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö), and Düdjom Rinpoché (Jigdrel Yéshey Dorjé), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Supplication to Terchen Trulzhik Dongak Lingpa, by Terchen Trulzhik Dongak Lingpa (Himself), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Supplication to Lord Trulzhik Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö (Trulzhik Rinpoché), by Trulzhik Rinpoché, Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö (Himself), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- On the Long Life Arrows of Māratika Cave (The Silken Arrows of Longevity), by Māratika Dungdzin Rinpoché (Ngawang Jigdrel Chökyi Wangchuk), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Concise Red Scented Smoke Offering (Marsur), by Düdjom Rinpoché (Jigdrel Yéshey Dorjé), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Concise Smoke Offering Ritual, by Trulzhik Rinpoché (Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Concise Dhāraṇī Ritual for Purifying Offerings, a text from the Kangyur (the Tibetan Buddhist Scriptural Canon), published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Extremely Concise ‘Dispelling the Faults of Interdependence’, a Treasure Teaching (gter ma) of Tertön Sögyel, published by Māratika Monastery (Nepal), 2017
- The Prosperity Practice of Red Tārā, from the ‘Compendium of Vital Extract from the Treasury of Sublime Awakened Mind’, a Treasure Teaching (gter-ma) of Apang Tertön, published by Chagdud Gompa Brazil, 2017
- The Awakened Activity of the Mighty Master Mahādeva, the Command Guardian of the Great Compassionate One, a Treasure Teaching (gter ma) of Chokgyur Déchen Lingpa, published by Chagdud Gompa Brazil, 2017
- The Glory of the Golden Mountain: A Long Life Prayer for the Unsurpassed Master of the Great Perfection, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoché, by Yongdzin Loppön Tendzin Namdak Rinpoché, published for widespread use by the student community of Chögyel Namkhai Norbu Rinpoché, 2018
- Supplication for the Long Life of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, by Sakya Trichen Gongma Rinpoché, Ngawang Künga Tekchen Pelbar (the 41st Sakya Trizin), published by Melody of Dharma magazine, 2018
His current translation works planned for publication include:
- The Heart Sphere of Yuthok (g.yu thog snying thig)
- The Sūtra of Golden Light in 29 Chapters (gser ‘od dam pa mdo sde’i dbang po’i rgyal po’i mdo)
- The Sūtra of Golden Light in 31 Chapters (gser ‘od dam pa mdo sde’i dbang po’i rgyal po’i mdo)
- The Lotus Sūtra (entitled ‘The Tibetan Lotus Sūtra’) (dam pa’i chos padma dkar po’i mdo)
- Commentary to the Puṇḍarīka of the Wondrous Dharma [Lotus Sūtra] (dam pa’i chos padma dkar po’i ‘grel ba, dam pa’i chos punda rii ka’i ‘grel ba)
Erick Tsiknopoulos is available for contact and translation inquiries via email: Erick@Tibetan-Translations.com and SugatagarbhaTranslations@gmail.com.