A couple of unimportant things some folks may find of interest.
First, unimportant item, non-Taiwan related: For those from MABA who were at Vesak this year and heard the “Gate, gate” chant we sang during the bathing of the Buddha (pronounced “gaw-tei”, not “gate”), here’s a shorter version of it for those who would like to listen to it again. It is about nine and a half minutes, with a single voice for the first two and a half minutes, then a chorus of voices comes in.
Gate chant. (You can right-click and “save as” or “save target as” to download it if you would like.) It is best to listen to with headphones or on good speakers to hear everything.
We put it together over just a few days, using an iPad music application (Thumbjam), impromptu recording in MABA’s dining area, crude audio looping techniques, and simple editing software. So it isn’t the best; but it is a lovely chant. The melody comes from a chant someone found on YouTube. The harmonies and rhythm are my fault.
The text consists of the last lines of the Heart Sutra, which, in romanized Sanskrit, reads: “Gate, gate, paragate, para-samgate, bodhi svaha,” remembering that it is pronounced “gaw-tei.”
It is a mantra, and thereby cannot really be translated accurately. Most Asian Buddhist traditions have just transliterated the sounds, rather than translate the words. So, in Chinese, it sounds something like “ji-e-ti, ji-e-ti, buo-luo-ji-e-ti, buo-luo-seng-ji-e-ti puti, sa-puo-heh.” However, here are two English renderings that may give you a sense of the meaning:
Edward Conze rendered it: “Gone gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail!”
Shasta Abbey uses: “O Buddha, going, going, going on beyond; and always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha. Hail!”
Most English versions, it seems, keep the mantra in tact and do not translate it.
Second non-important item:
Here’s my Chinese class from the Summer at 師範大學:
That is our teacher, 潘老師 (Pan Lǎo-shī, or Teacher Pan), in the center. We had three people from Japan, three from America, and one from Canada in our class. After our final class last Tuesday, we took our teacher out to a very nice vegetarian restaurant, and had a nice time eating and talking …. in Chinese, of course (or at least trying.)
Everyone was very kind and nice throughout the summer semester, and most excelled in their Chinese studies over the term. Only the fellow in the red shirt and I are staying on here in Taiwan; everyone else is heading back to their respective countries. They were all very kind to the odd American monk in their class.
Ok, that’s it for unimportant matters. The next post will be a bit more meaningful.