Malcolm Smith: Translating The Tantra Without Syllables and The Blazing Lamp Tantra
For this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Wisdom author and renowned Tibetan Buddhist translator, Malcolm Smith. Malcolm has been a student of the Great Perfection teachings since 1992 and studied under Dzogchen masters Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and the late Kunzang Dechen Lingpa. His translations include Buddhahood in this Life: The Great Commentary of Vimalamitra, which is one of the earliest and most influential tests of the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Most recently, Malcolm has published the second installment of a multi-volume translation project of the Seventeen Tantras, which are among the most essential texts of the Great Perfection tradition. The first installment includes The Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra (Vol 1) and The Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra (Vol 2), published in 2019. His most recent translation is of The Tantra Without Syllables (Vol 3) and The Blazing Lamp Tantra (Vol 4), published in 2020.
In this fascinating conversation, Malcolm and Daniel focus on Malcolm’s most recent translation of Volumes 3 and 4, discussing why these, like Volumes 1 and 2, are essential to an overall understanding of the whole Dzogchen system. You’ll hear Malcolm give a brief overview of the history of the Seventeen Tantras in relationship to Dzogchen, Dzogchen’s central teachers and texts, and how the Seventeen Tantras fit within other Tibetan Buddhist traditions. You’ll also hear why these two texts—The Tantra Without Syllables (Vol 3) and The Blazing Lamp Tantra (Vol 4)—are published together. Malcolm explains how these two texts contain some of the most detailed expositions on two essential practices of the Great Perfection: trekchö, the view, and thögal, the meditation.
Malcolm and Daniel also discuss the nature of restriction of these texts both historically and for contemporary students of Dzogchen.
This episode was recorded as part of our new series, Wisdom Dharma Chats, where you can attend live video versions of the Wisdom Podcast from the comfort of your own home. Wisdom Dharma Chats also include a Q&A where you can ask questions directly to Buddhist teachers, practitioners and scholars. To watch the video version of this podcast, visit our Wisdom Dharma Chats page.
To hear Malcolm’s Wisdom Podcast on The Self-Arisen Vidyā Tantra (Vol 1) and The Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra (Vol 2), which is the first 2-volume set of the Seventeen Tantras, click here.
About the Interviewee
Malcolm Smith has been a student of the Great Perfection teachings since 1992. His main Dzogchen teachers are Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and the late Kunzang Dechen Lingpa. He is a veteran of a traditional three-year solitary Tibetan Buddhist retreat, a published translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts, and was awarded the ācārya degree by the Sakya Institute in 2004. He graduated in 2009 from Shang Shung Institute’s School of Tibetan Medicine. He has worked on translations for renowned lamas since 1992, including His Holiness the Sakya Trichen Rinpoche, Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, Khenpo Migmar Tseten, Tulku Dakpa Rinpoche, Khenchen Könchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche, and many others.