(for pure speculation and reflection)
I'd translate that first line, "How does it have anything to do [or, What does it have to do] with deeds? Every deed that is done serves as cause of sangsara."
But does it really render the source text and source idea? I would have thought something along this line: “What is the point in something being done (i.e. What is the point in doing anything) [for] whatever one does turns out to be a cause of samsara.”
[for] whatever one has done turns out to be a cause of samsara.”
That is, of course, assuming that the Tibetan text is correct.
Exactly, How seriously to take that past tense in the English translation... It's talking generalities, rather than specifics, of "what deeds have been done." So making that past action present makes better sense as English gnomic wisdom, I think. I think it's saying, What does it matter what you eat? Whatever you eat turns to crap. Am I wrong? I mean, you could say, whatever you ate [did eat] turns [or will turn] to crap, but it's not such natural English to my ears.
Dear D, once the syntactic and semantic elements of the source text is clear, I think, one can render the sentence into the source language as elegantly (or perhaps even as freely) as one wishes. “What does it matter what you eat? Whatever you eat turns to crap.” The gist of the message of the source text is indeed conveyed by this. But if one my (beginner) students were to translate the pertinent text in this way, I would wonder whether he or she really understood the sense and syntax of the source text. But I must admit that a smooth don ’gyur like yours would be more appealing to the readership. D.
I take your point about the students and agree completely, within that learning context. Still, I think the future belongs to meaningful translations. Word translations will fail, because as communicative literature they are just crap, and people will give up trying to read them when they realize their frustration in understanding them is justified. For word translation we have Google Translate to do it for us. The Nyingmas have always been right on the money when it comes to this particular issue of meaning translation, don't you think?
Hi Dorji: I just started reading your blog. Interesting things here. Do you know of a construction similar to the above, but ci + verb + bya? I know that is vague, I'll dig up a passage if this makes no sense.Best!CH
Dear CH, no, I don’t think I know of such a construction. D