Letter of Support from Gen Lobzang Gyatso,
Tibetan language teacher and Buddhist scholar
I, the one by the name of Lobzang Gyatso, a Tibetan language and Dharma teacher for the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings (Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang), address you with respect.
My name is Lobzang Gyatso, and my home country is in the region of southern Amdo in the snowy land of Tibet. In both Tibet and India, over the course of eighteen years I completed my studies of the four major textual subjects of the Buddhadharma in the Tibetan tradition. Namely:
- Buddhist logic and epistemology (Skt. pramāṇa, Tib. tshad ma) based on Dharmakīrti’s Compendium of Valid Cognition (Skt. pramāṇavārttikakārika, Tib. tshad ma rnam ‘grel)
- Perfection of Wisdom literature (Skt. prajñāpāramitā, Tib. shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa) based on Asaṅga and Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realization (abhisamayālaṅkāra)
- Abhidharma (Tib. mngon pa) based on Vasubandhu’s Treasury of Abhidharma (Skt. abhidharmakośa, Tib. mngon pa mdzod)
- Middle Way ontology (Skt. madhyamaka, Tib. dbu ma) based on the works of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti.
I have also studied the five minor Tibetan arts and sciences — poetry, etymological and synonym studies, writing and composition, astrology, and drama, as well as Chinese and English language, mathematics, geography and natural science. In both Tibet and India, I have worked as a teacher for seven years and as a physician for five years. Recently I have been working for about two years as a Dharma teacher for students from ten different countries at the Esukhia Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings (Nangten Sizhu Khang) in Dharamsala, Northern India. I am also currently working as an author, physician, translator and online writer and editor.
Now, to elaborate on the subject at hand, which is my student, the prodigious American scholar known as Erick Tsiknopoulos. He is of a good nature and kind-hearted character, and is an intellectual of broad understanding and discernment. He has studied the Sanskrit, Pāli, Japanese, Hindi and other languages in addition to Tibetan and his native language of English. He has a good knowledge of Sanskrit Buddhist terminology. In Japan he attained a high level of ability in Japanese language.
Since 2003 he has studied a great deal of the Mahāyāna and Secret Mantra (Vajrayāna) Dharma teachings of the Nyingma sect, as well as the teachings of the other three main Tibetan Buddhist traditions, with many great teachers in America and India. 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 other subjects at two colleges in America.
In India, he has studied the following topics:
- Literary and colloquial Tibetan at the Manjushree Center for Tibetan Culture in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
- Tibetan language and Buddhist subjects such as Philosophical Tenets (grub mtha’, siddhānta) and Madhyamaka (dbu ma) at the Thösam Ling Institute in Sidhpur (Norbulingka), Himachal Pradesh.
- Philosophical and epistemological subjects such as Types of Mental Cognition (blo rigs), Types of Reasons (rtags rigs), Collected Debate Topics (bsdus grwa), Tibetan grammar (sum rtags) and Tibetan Buddhist philosophical debate, as well as the Sūtra on Recollecting the Three Jewels (dkon mchog gsum rjes su dran pa’i mdo) with the Khenpos at Dzongsar Shedra (Dzongsar Chökyi Lodrö Institute of Buddhist Dialectics) in Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh.
- Philosophical Tenets (grub mtha’), Collected Debate Topics (bsdus grwa), the Seventy Topics of the Abhisamayālaṅkāra (don bdun bcu) and Śāntideva’s Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra (spyod ‘jug) with the Géshes at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
- Jé Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of Path (lam rim chen mo), Tibetan grammar and Prajñāpāramitā (Abhisamayālaṅkāra) with the Géshes at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.
- Prajñāpāramitā (Abhisamayālaṅkāra with its commentary by Panchen Sönam Drakpa) and Stages of the Path (lam rim) literature with the Géshes at Namgyal Monastery, the main temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in McLeod Ganj.
In addition, he has also frequently attended private classes with various Buddhist scholars such as Khenpos and Géshes, in which he studied topics such as:
- Gyeltsab Darma Rinchen’s Commentary to Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra
- Ju Mipham Rinpoché’s Gateway to Knowledge (mkhas ‘jug)
- Ju Mipham Rinpoché’s Torch of Certainty (nges shes sgron me)
- Ju Mipham Rinpoché’s Commentary to Chanting the Names of Mañjuśrī (mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti)
- Jé Tsongkhapa’s Praise to Mañjuśrī (‘jam dpal bstod pa)
- Types of Mental Cognitions (blo rigs)
- Types of Reasons (rtags rigs)
- The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra (nam mkha’i snying po’i mdo).
From 2012 to 2015 he studied under me at the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings (Esukhia Nangten Sizhu Khang), and we have since continued our collaborations. Together we have reviewed the Sūtra of Golden Light (suvarṇaprabhā-sottama-sūtrendra-rāja), a collection of sūtras (mdo tshan phyogs sgrigs), and a text on the negative karmic retributions of guns (me mda’i nyes dmigs) among several others.
In particular, we have spent thousands of hours researching his extensive translations of the large compilation of practices related to the Heart Sphere of Yuthok (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 all this, I believe that his translation skills are exceptional and outstanding.
He has also done oral translation on a regular basis for an accomplished lama named Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoché in McLeod Ganj, on Buddhist subjects such as Jé Tsongkhapa’s Three Principle Aspects of the Path (lam gtso rnam gsum) and the Four Noble Truths.
His level of aptitude in literary and classical Tibetan language is immense, and his spoken Tibetan language and powers of expression are superb. 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, owing to the fact that he also aims to help establish peace and happiness in the world.
On the third day of Joy, during the virtuous period of the waxing moon in the month of Saga Dawa in the Tibetan Water Snake Year, being the eleventh day of the fourth month of Vesak, this was written at the Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings (Nangten Sizhu Khang) in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Gen Lobzang Gyatso
Letter of Support from Dirk Schmidt of Esukhia
McLeod Ganj, India
24 May 2013
To Whom It May Concern;
It is our pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for Erick Tsiknopoulos. During his tenure as an Esukhia student, Erick has proven himself to be an avid and exceptional student with a prodigious curiosity in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and its textual heritage. He is continually striving to improve his knowledge of the Tibetan language, both spoken and literary, as evidenced by his continuing collaborative relationship with the staff members at our organization, who are excellent scholars in their own right.
We believe Erick has great potential in his future as a translator. Having spent his time training in India since 2008 and studied Tibetan since 2004, he has essentially followed in the footsteps of the great Lotsawas (Tibetan translators) of the past, who would spend 20 years training to work in collaboration with Indian masters for the sake of translation.
We therefore wholeheartedly endorse him, and wish him continued success in all his academic and educational pursuits.
Dirk Schmidt (Translation Department Director) & Esukhia’s Board of Directors
Letter of Support from Dr. Scott Mist, organizer of the Heart Sphere of Yuthok Translation Project
Erick and I have been working together for the last two years on a translation project where I have served as the main organizer of the project, and he has worked as the head translator. Erick has been translating the Yuthok Nyingtik (g.yu thog snying thig) under the auspices and with the help of Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a preeminent scholar and instructor of Tibetan medicine.
Erick was recommended to me by Dr. Frances Garret, University of Toronto, for his extremely high level of Tibetan language skills and impressive ability in translating classical Tibetan. We both believe that he is one of the best Tibetan-English translators of the younger generation working today.
The Yuthok Nyingtik or ‘Heart Sphere of Yuthok’ is a uniquely difficult text to translate, in that it is simultaneously a medical text and a complete Vajrayāna cycle. As such, the textual material has a vast array of terminology and literary styles, with subjects ranging from specific herbs and Tibetan medicinal practices, detailed historical documents, prayers and rituals, philosophical expositions and practice manuals, to Vajrayana practices including sngon ‘gro, bla ma’i rnal ‘byor, shin tu rnal ‘byor, phyag rgya chen po, sman sgrub, bskyed rim, and rdzogs rim. The language and subject matter of the text is often quite esoteric, archaic, poetic, and condensed.
Erick’s eloquent work on this challenging text is a testament to his extensive knowledge of Buddhism and Tibetan language.
Erick has been a dedicated student of Buddhism since 1999, and since 2007 he has been living in India studying Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. In both America and India, he has studied with several Buddhist master scholars, and in India he has been deeply immersed in Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan literature, and Tibetan Buddhist practices, through private and public classes at many highly-regarded Buddhist institutions.
He currently (c. 2013) studies Buddhist philosophy at Namgyal Monastery (His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s main monastery), the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and the Esukhia Institute for Service to the Buddhist Teachings. Furthermore, he serves as the main oral translator for Géshe Lobsang Chögyel Rinpoche’s regular Dharma teachings in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India.
Erick has been diligent, articulate and forthright in his work – important skills in a translator. I strongly recommend him for all future translation and educational endeavors.
Scott Mist, PhD, MAcOM
Fibromyalgia Research Group, School of Nursing & Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases Department, School of Medicine
Letter of Support from Sir Patrick Tan,
Royal Knight of Malaysia
I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Erick Tsiknopoulos since 2010. I first encountered him on the internet through his amazing website of Tibetan Buddhist translations. I was deeply impressed with his obviously high level of skill in both Tibetan language and Tibetan to English translation, as well as his knowledge of Buddhism. I was also moved that he offered all of his translations for free to the public. I developed a friendship and partnership with him that continues to this day. I have always supported his altruistic translation projects, and over the years I have tried to help him as I am able.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to meet Erick Tsiknopoulos in person in Kathmandu, where he served as an oral translator for me and my colleagues at Namo Buddha and Pharping. He was very helpful to us on our spiritual journey into the most holy Tibetan Buddhist sites in Nepal. He has also translated several letters to Tibetan lamas from English into Tibetan for me, and he worked as the main English editor and proofreader for the English edition of my company’s official magazine, 96 Street Magazine, for over a year and half from 2011 to 2012.
His translation abilities are beyond doubt, and his talent and proficiency in both English and Tibetan is inspiring. Moreover, his understanding of Buddhism is highly unusual for someone of his age, and it is obvious that he has been constantly furthering his Buddhist studies for quite a long time.
I have always admired his sincere commitment to the intensive study of Tibetan Buddhism and language in India, and his unique dedication to the field of translation. He has studied with many great Buddhist teachers for many years in both America and India, and through this he has truly gained a deep familiarity with a broad spectrum of the Buddhist teachings.
For myself, as a long-time student and supporter of Buddhism in both the Chinese and Tibetan traditions, and someone who has visited India and Nepal on numerous occasions, I can appreciate the diligence and patience that is required for the kind of study that Erick has accomplished. It is very difficult and requires a great deal of courage and devotion.
Erick has served as an encouragement for me in my own Dharma studies and practice, and therefore I have always given him my full support and recommendation. I believe that he is and will continue to be of great benefit to Buddhism and the world.
Sir (Dato’) Patrick Tan, Royal Knight of Malaysia
Founder and Former Chairman of the VISIBER Corporation (VISIBER SDN BHD, VISIBER International Group)
Letter of Support from Chris Wilkinson,
I have known Erick Tsiknopoulos since 2007, at which time he studied Tibetan language under me in Eugene, Oregon.
Erick has persevered in his studies of higher Buddhist learning and foreign languages over the years, without pause. He has translated a large number of both canonical and non-canonical documents, and has worked under many of the important Dharma teachers in India and Nepal. His work is widely known in the Tibetan Buddhist community. His motivation and demonstrated commitment are beyond question.
I believe that Erick is making and will continue to make a genuine contribution to the Dharma, and wish him every success.