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Words of My Perfect Teacher: The Classic Text by Patrul Rinpoche Translated into Bulgarian

Yavor Konstantinov, right, with his root teacher Pema Rinpoche. Image courtesy of Palyul Center Bulgaria

Words of My Perfect Teacher (Tib: Kunzang Lame Shyalung), written by the great Nyingma master Patrul Rinpoche (1808–87), is an explanation of the preliminary practices (Tib: ngondro) from the Longchen Nyingtik cycle of teachings discovered by one of the most important figures in the Nyingma lineage, Jigme Lingpa (1730–98). This famous commentary is a written record of the oral teachings Patrul Rinpoche received directly from his teacher, Jigme Gyalwe Nyugu (1765–1843), who was one of Jigme Lingpa’s foremost disciples.

Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism was translated from Classical Tibetan into English by the Padmakara Translation Group, who were also responsible for publishing the book in French, German, Russian, and Spanish. This classic Tibetan Buddhist text has now been translated into the Bulgarian language by Yavor Konstantinov and published on 10 February 2022 by East-West Publishing House in Sofia. 

BDG recently had the privilege of interviewing Konstantinov. He was born in Sofia, and received a master’s degree in German philology and comparative literature from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Konstantinov began translating Dharma teachings into Bulgarian and German after meeting his teacher, Pema Rinpoche of the Palyul Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He has also translated Dharma books from German and English into Bulgarian. His translations include: Eight Years in Tibet by Peter Aufschnaiter and In Love with the World by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. In 2020, Konstantinov began working as an editor of the Buddhist almanac Lotus, which is published by East-West Publishing House twice a year and has been a great success. He is co-founder and co-chair of Palyul Center Bulgaria, established in 2011 by Pema Rinpoche, as well as co-chair of the religious community Nyingma Buddhism.

The Bulgarian edition of
Words of My Perfect Teacher.
Image courtesy of East-West Publishing House
The English edition of
Words of My Perfect Teacher.
Image courtesy of Yale University Press

Buddhistdoor Global: How did your Dharma path begin?

Yavor Konstantinov: I first met my root teacher Pema Rinpoche in 2003, and three years later I took the refuge vows from him. It was a turning point in my life. Over the years, I have received teachings from him on both the preliminary and main practices in the Palyul Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Pema Rinpoche also made it possible for me to meet and receive teachings from His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, Palyul Chogtrul Rinpoche, and other great teachers from his precious lineage.

BDG: Can you briefly describe Patrul Rinpoche’s book?

YK: Patrul Rinpoche’s Words of My Perfect Teacher is a classic introduction to the spiritual practices common to all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, written more than a hundred years ago. Although it presents the preliminary practices of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle of teachings of the Nyingma school, this book carries a universal message that transcends all divisions of schools and traditions, and continues to sound relevant and fresh in our modern times. Engaging and thorough, Patrul Rinpoche, one of the greatest Buddhist teachers of the 19th century, presents the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment.

 Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s In Love with the World.
Bulgarian translation by Yavor Konstantinov.
Image courtesy of East-West Publishing House

BDG: How did you reach the idea of translating this book into Bulgarian?

YK: A long time ago, Pema Rinpoche pointed out this book to me as essential for understanding Buddhist practices. A year ago, I offered it for translation and publication to the renowned Bulgarian publishing house East-West, and much to my delight they agreed. The English translation from Classical Tibetan was prepared by the famous Padmakara Translation Group, also responsible for publishing the book in other major Western languages. The Bulgarian publisher soon managed to arrange the rights, and fortunately I was able to meet Padmakara’s not-inconsiderable requirements as a Bulgarian translator. These requirements included a certain level of practice, experience in translating Dharma books, and so on. Thus, Words of My Perfect Teacher is now available in Bulgaria in the wonderful edition published by East-West Publishing House.

BDG: Which of the book’s messages remains deep in your mind?

YK: Patrul Rinpoche’s book is an inexhaustible source of wisdom. From it I have learned that the instructions of the teacher that expose our hidden faults should not be taken as “a window through which to observe others’ faults, but rather as a mirror for examining your own. Look carefully within yourself to see whether or not you have those hidden faults. If you do, recognize them and take them out of their hiding place. Correct your mind and set it at ease on the right path. . . .”

At Rodopa Mountain, southern Bulgaria. Image courtesy of Yavor Konstantinov

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