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The Ka-Ter Translation Project

The name Ka-Ter comes from Kama and Terma; Kama means all the original texts of teachings and Tibetan culture that has existed for centuries and centuries until now, and Terma means hidden treasures of texts and objects rediscovered by Tertons in the correct time or moment.

In Tibet, there are many very ancient texts and objects related with Kama or Terma. The Ka-Ter Translation Project includes several activities: the Training for Translators from Tibetan into other languages, the translation and publication of the Dzogchen Tantras, and the project for the preservation of the Terma teachings of the great Terton Changchub Dorje and others.

This initiative which has been endorsed by HH IVth Dalai Lama is very important for all people who are interested in the Buddhist Teachings and Tibetan culture. In order to become familiar with the unique knowledge of the ancient masters of Tibet, one must comprehend their scriptures and precious texts and make them available for future generations in Western languages with precise and correct translations. The Ka-Ter Translation Project is an important step in this direction.

I really hope that all of you who interested in this area will support this project, directly or indirectly, and collaborate with its various aspects. You are really welcome to collaborate on this project!

With many Tashi Delegs,
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

Ka-Ter Translator Training Programme

In order to be able translate sacred Tibetan texts in a qualified way so that future generations can benefit from them, one must have an excellent understanding of Tibetan language and grammar and one must also have the capacity to comprehend the real meaning of the text. It should be guaranteed that future translations of these texts into Western languages are precise. For this reason The Ka-Ter Translator Training Programme was initiated and aims to train students in the translation of sacred Tibetan texts to the highest possible standard.

The Translators Training Programme started in 2003 at the request of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu under the tutelage of Elio Guarisco. Since 2007 the programme has be run br Dr Fabian Sanders (University of Venice). Students of the programme have worked on texts such as like "On Birth, Life and Death", and text on Tibetan medicine by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu published in English in Autumn 2006, the Dzogchen Mejung Tantra, "Wonderful Primordial State" and the Dzogchen Khanyam Tantra, "The Primordial State Equal to Sky".

The Dzogchen Tantra Translation Project

Dzogchen Tantras are profound texts that can be difficult to understand, even for native Tibetan scholars. The Ka-Ter Dzogchen Tantra Translation Project employs three expert translators: Elio Guarisco, Adriano Clemente and Dr Jim Valby. This core translation team work continuously on translating Dzogchen Tantras collaborating regularly in order to review each others work to ensure the highest standards of accuracy possible.

Typically, one single text will take two to three years to complete. Each text is translated, checked, edited, and checked again at least ten times until it is ready for publication. Any remaining doubts are clarified by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu who works tirelessly to this end. Through this rigorous process of revision and clarification, the Shang Shung Institute can guarantee correct and precise translations of these texts of wisdom for the benefit of future generations.

Dzogchen Tantra Translation Project Translators

Adriano Clemente

Adriano Clemente is the main translator for the project “Complete Works of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.”

Adriano was born in Lecce, Italy, on 5 January 1958 and grew up in Naples. He met Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1975, and was part of the original group of students who received the first Dzogchen teachings in 1976 at the Palestra on Via Palasciano in Naples. That same year, he joined the University of Oriental Studies in Naples, graduating in 1983 with a thesis on the Dzogchen Bönpo text Dran pa gser gdams by gShen sras lha rje (13th century). At that time he started working on translations of Tibetan texts, mainly authored by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, such as Drung, Deu, and Bon, for which he did extensive research in the ancient Bön tradition, and Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement. He compiled and edited Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State, and is the author, together with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, of The Supreme Source, a pioneer work on the tradition of Dzogchen semde, in particular focusing on the Kun byed rgyal po tantra. He is mainly responsible for translation of the Longsal cycle of teachings (of which eight volumes have been published to date) and of the Santi Maha Sangha training (of which five volumes have been translated). Since 2003, Adriano Clemente has also worked for the Ka-ter Translation Project of the Shang Shung Institute Austria.

Dr Jim Valby

Dr Jim Valby was born on 3 September 1946 and grew up in Rochester, New York, USA, where he attended Roman Catholic elementary and high schools. He graduated from Middlebury College with a Physics degree and worked as an engineer. From 1971 to 1983 he attended graduate school while driving a school bus, programming computers, teaching violin, and running a nuclear reactor. He earned Masters and Doctorate degrees in Tibetan Buddhism focusing on Shrisingha, Vimalamitra, and computers at the University of Saskatchewan under Professor Herbert Guenther. In 1982 he participated in his first retreat with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Since 1989 he has lived in Western Massachusetts, near the Dzogchen Community’s North American base Tsegyalgar East, working on translations from Tibetan, transcripts of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu retreats, and other Dzogchen Community projects.

From 1999 to 2010 he led 121 Santi Maha Sangha (SMS) practice retreats.  He is an authorized SMS instructor of the Base, First, and Second Levels. Some of his other translation work is listed in Since 2003 he has also worked for the Ka-ter Translation Project.

Elio Guarisco

Elio was born in Varese, Italy, on 5 August 1954 and grew up in Como. He studied art and received a Master of Arts before traveling to India to study Buddhism. On his return from India he moved to Switzerland, where for ten years he learned Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy under one of the Dalai Lama’s philosophical advisors. Elio joined the Dzogchen community in 1986, when he received teachings from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu for the first time.

Invited by the late Kalu Rinpoche, Elio spent almost twenty years in India working on the large encyclopedia on Indo-Tibetan knowledge known as Shes bya kun khyab (Myriad Worlds,Buddhist EthicsSystems of Buddhist TantraThe Elements of Tantric Practice) authored by Kongtrul the Great, published in separate volumes by Snow Lion Publications. During this time Elio continued to actively collaborate with the Dzogchen Community and especially with the Shang Shung Institute in Italy, of which he is a founding member.

Elio has worked on various translations for the Shang Shung Institute in Italy, including several books by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu relating to Tibetan medicine. He has completed several levels of the Santi Maha Sangha training, and became an authorized teacher of the base, first, and second level. Since 2003, Elio has been one of the three principal translators for the Ka-ter project of the Shang Shung Institute of Austria. Aside from serving as instructor for the Training for Translators from Tibetan program, he also works for the Dzogchen Tantra Translation Project.

Ka-Ter Project Publications

The Marvellous Primordial State

Translated from the Tibetan by Adriano Clemente, Elio Guarisco, Jim Valby in collaboration with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

The Marvellous Primordial State (rDzog pa chen po byang chub kyi sems rmad du byung ba) is a profoundly important root text of Dzogchen semde (Mind Series).
Although this ancient text in forty chapters is not as large, nor has it as many chapters,  as The Supreme Source (Kun byed rgyal po’i rgyud), it teaches all the essential principles of Dzogchen Ati, which can be subsumed in the view without fixations,  contemplation beyond concepts, and the fruit which is not attained by treading a path. Therefore, this ancient manuscript of the Byang chub sems rmad du byung ba contains the essence of all sutras and tantras of the Buddha’s  teaching with nothing missing. Read More... (redirect to Shang Shung Publications)

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Awakening upon Dying: The Tibetan Book of the Dead

by Padmasambhava, Karma Lingpa
introduction by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
translated by Elio Guarisco

The subject of this book is the continuity of consciousness and the consequent possibility of spiritual liberation after death, as understood in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, an explanation long famed in Europe and North America as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Read More... (redirect to Shang Shung Publications)



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Healing with Fire: A Practical Manual of Tibetan Moxibustion

By Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Translated by Elio Guarisco

This manual is the first of its kind to focus on the Tibetan technique of moxibustion, an external therapy that uses the power of heat to stimulate a curative effect. Read More... (redirect to Shang Shung Publications)



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Ka-Ter Translation Project of the Shang Shung Institute Austria

11th Training for Translators from Tibetan
August 10th - September 4th 2013

Tibetan is a sacred language and the sheer beauty of the Dharma is mirrored by the clarity and imaginative creativity of the Tibetan language. For this and many other reasons the study of Tibetan language represents a crucial step towards a closer relation with the Teachings.

To give the possibility to the practitioners of the Dzogchen Community to study Tibetan language, the Tibetan Language Trainings have become a major aspect and task of the Ka-Ter Translation Project of the Shang Shung Institute Austria for already more than one decade.

The Tibetan Language Training focuses on the classical Tibetan language and is divided into two levels: Intermediate and advanced.
A course for beginners course will be taught separately in a more compact fashion, the dates are yet to be defined.

1. Intermediate level
The Intermediate level is intended for students who have already assimilated to a certain degree the Tibetan grammar and are able to start translating. 
They receive relatively simple texts and can analyze the text and formulate translations, individually or in groups. 
Their work is checked and corrected in group sessions and everyone may ask the tutor for clarifications. The purpose is to familiarize with texts, grammatical structures, and syntax in their actual context. 
Course fee: € 85.00
Food and accommodation are not included in the course fee. All participants are requested to individually book their stay in the area of Merigar, and are advised to do so early
2. Advanced level
Advanced level students translate in groups with the tutor and focus on all aspects of the language as well as translating theories and techniques. They will read and translate straightforwardly one sentence each, the text is more complex both grammatically and in terms of content. The aim is to produce refined translations ready to be published. 
Course fee: € 45.00
Food and accommodation are not included in the course fee. All participants are requested to individually book their stay in the area of Merigar, and are advised to do so early
Dr. Fabian Sanders

Like in the last years the courses or trainings of the Ka-Ter Tibetan Language Project will take place at the Shang Shung Institute Merigar, Italy.

In order to be able to participate in Tibetan Language Training one 
As the Ka-ter Translation Project is managed and financed by the Austrian branch of the Shang Shung Institute, all participants have to be at least an ORDINARY MEMBER of the Shang Shung Institute Austria in 2013. 
The membership-fee and the course-fee have to be sent to the Shang Shung Institute Austria latest until the end of July 2013.
Everybody needs to register first. Without registration and a valid membership we cannot accept students wishing to participate.
You can register and get your membership here:
The Teacher

Dr Fabian Sanders: Dr Fabian Sanders was born in Salo’, Italy, from German parents. After studying Chinese and Sanskrit languages and deepening his knowledge of Eastern, Central and South Asian Traditions and cultures, in the last decade he has been focusing on the Tibetan world. He began working with the 9th Khalkha Jestun Dampa on the history of his lineage and his biography for a PhD Thesis and he took part in his first retreat with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1997 in New Delhi, which has been a crucial experience. Alongside the research on and translation of classical Tibetan texts he devotes himself to the quest for careful understanding of doctrinal principles and spiritual practices of the Himalayan region. At present he teaches Tibetan language and literature at the Universita Ca’ Foscari in Venice. He is academic director of the Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Studies (UK) and teaches language and translation courses for the Shang Shung Institute.

Course Organiser Requirements

-     Find a suitable place for study,

-     Take care of accommodation and food for the teacher,

-     Take care of transport for the teacher from/to the airport, and from/to the hotel to the place of study.

If you are interested in organising or participating in a course, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Help to Support the Ka-Ter Translation Project

Without the support of our donors, the Ka-Ter Translation Project would not be able to do its work of preserving the Tibetan teachings for the benefit of future generations. We would like to welcome you to show your support for the Ka-Ter Project by making a donation. Every little helps!



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