This one was passed on to me by an old friend in the UK;
Live purely. Be quiet.
Do your work with mastery.
Like the moon, come out
from behind the clouds!
This quote is from Thomas Byrom’s “rendering” of the Dhammapada, and it comprises two quotes that have been joined together.
The first part, “”Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery,” corresponds to this verse from Buddharakkhita’s quite literal translation:
386. He who is meditative, stainless and settled, whose work is done and who is free from cankers, having reached the highest goal — him do I call a holy man.
The second part, “Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine!” corresponds to the following, which is also by Buddharakshita:
382. That monk who while young devotes himself to the Teaching of the Buddha illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds.
It’s almost as if Byrom just plucked a few random words from the original (or more likely from various translations — I’ve seen no indication that he knew Pali or any other Indian languages) and make something up.
The publisher’s description on Amazon, for the Shambhala Pocket Edition, says, “Thomas Byrom’s verse rendering of the Dhammapada uniquely captures the Buddha’s original teachings with simplicity and lyricism.” At least they don’t call it a translation.
In the spirit of Byrom’s “rendering,” here’s an extract from Shakespeare’s Sonnet Number 18.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
And now we have my “rendering” which we will nevertheless attribute to the Bard:
“Let your beauty shine. Find balance. Let yourself open like a bud trembling in the wind. Remember that all things pass.” William Shakespeare
Hopefully I’ve uniquely captured Shakespeare’s original with simplicity, although I make no claims to lyricism.
OK, that was a bit sarcastic, but I hope my little reductio ad absurdum illustrates the problems of trying to “render” a classic text by taking a few words from the original and creating a new context for them. My Fake Shakespeare Quote quote above is of course me, not Shakespeare, just as Byrom’s “rendering” of the Dhammapada is Byrom, not the Buddha.
(And in any publishers are reading, for a suitable advance I’d be happy to “render” all of Shakespeare’s sonnets for publication. I’m not proud. For a really big advance I’ll do the Complete Works.)