And with Ajahn Brahmali, who has been working on Vinaya translations at the same time, I have had many illuminating discussions about the meaning of various words and phrases. He said one thing that stuck in my mind: a translation should mean something . Even if you’re not sure what the text means, we can be sure that it had some meaning, so to translate it based purely on lexical correspondences is to not really translate it at all. Say what you think the text means, and if you make a mistake, fix it.
A translation should mean something.
What does that mean in the case of the formula for reflection on food:
mn2: ‘Not for fun, indulgence, adornment, or decoration, but only to sustain this body, to avoid harm, and to support spiritual practice. In this way, I shall put an end to old discomfort and not give rise to new discomfort, and I will live blamelessly and at ease.’
What do you think it means to eat “for adornment” and “for decoration”? Is it about playing around with food, using bits from my almsbowl to “adorn” myself or to “decorate” the dining hall? Or… ? I’ve never actually understood this.