I can remember on a warm day this past August being excited after pre-ordering a copy of Red Pine’s (Bill Porter) newly translated edition of the Lankavatara Sutra.
This was long in the making as he had been working on this translation for many years and so there has been eager anticipation as to its release. Originally, the publication date was set for late February, 2012. About a month ago I received an alert from Amazon that it would now be available by the end of January; then a few days ago another notice indicating that it would be shipping soon and one today notifying that it has been shipped and would arrive at my residence in a few days.
Red Pine has translated editions of the Diamond, Heart, and Platform Sutras as well as The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma and his masterful scholarship and running commentaries have always been a joy to read. Apparently, his Lanka translation is from the original text purportedly used by Bodhidharma and is an edition that Chinese Zen masters have consistently relied upon. Since the main English editions available have been exclusively by Suzuki since the 1930’s it will be refreshing to read Bill Porter’s take on the text. Many of us Lankavatarians have never been satisfied with Suzuki’s translation; for instance, his choice of words for pavavriti—or the “turn about” within the deepest recesses of consciousness—is “revulsion”—yuk! What a poor choice of words, bringing to mind something “revolting” and “disgusting”, when the “turn-about” really signifies something wonderfully happening—an actual process of “reversal” wherein the Self actually turns and Recollects IT’s very vivifying Primordial Stature. There will be those who could argue the point that Suzuki was referring to what one is turning about from, i.e., phenomena, and thus one has a sense of revulsion with the phenomenal; yet, the emphasis of pavavriti within the Lanka is on this “process of reversal”–in essence remaining prior-to all phenomena–rather than giving the phenomenal such undue focus.
Am looking forward to posting my reviews on this new translation after reading and reflecting upon the text; I’m hopeful that this new translation of the revered Lankavatara Sutra will prove to be the definitive edition for all earnest students of the Buddhadharma.