Now you may find people who claim that there is no True Self taught in Buddhism. Some of these people even claim, “The translation is wrong – it’s a biased English translation!” When you show them that 3-4 different translators translate it pretty much the same, they claim, “They’re all biased!”.
Well, let’s try doing some translating for ourselves – all you need to do plug these Chinese words into Google translate to see for yourself (sometimes you might have to translate it word by word).
Let’s first of all forget about the English translations and go straight to the source – the original Chinese version of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra – to a section where the Buddha makes an explicit declaration.
We find the term True Self/Real me – Jen Wo 真我 in the Chinese text of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra itself, in this passage:
The literal translation is of this passage is:
“Good man! 善男子！ Today 今日, the Thus Come One 如來 has spoken of/Announced 所說 the True Self 真我, is named/called 名曰 the Buddha Nature 佛性”.
So you can copy and paste the above Chinese word pairs into Google translate to check. Try it for yourself!
Explaining the rarer words:
- 真 Jen – means Real or True
- 我 Wo – means “me” or “myself”.
So Jen Wo 真我 means Real me or True Self or Real Self.
- 如來 Ru Lai – just means the Thus Come One – the Tathagata – which is what the Buddha called himself.
Polishing it up a little:
“The True Self that the Thus Come One has spoken of today is named the Buddha Nature”.
So the True Self is synonymous with the Buddha Nature.
And the translation from Professor Mark Blum is pretty much the same as my translation above:
Good man, the true self that the Tathagata has been talking about today is what is called the buddha-nature.
Source: p253 The Mahaparinirvana Sutra translated by Prof. Mark Blum.
So there you go! You have translated your first little piece of a Chinese Sutra! In fact, one of the most important Sutras on the planet!
You have learnt some new Chinese words at the same time!
So congratulations on achieving 2 things at once! Well done!