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I'm translating a Tibetan text written in verse into English. The style is one of direct advice rather than learned philosophy. My aim is for the translation to have the same down-to-earth quality as the original, and as much as possible to be accessible to anyone with a reasonable grasp of literary English.

In some (Tibetan) Buddhist literature in English, "heart advice" (or "heart-advice") has become somewhat common as a term for teachings that focus on the core practises of Buddhism, with little embellishment.

My question is whether this expression is jarring or distracting or even seems outright erroneous to a native English speaker who happens not to have been exposed to modern Buddhist literature. (I am not a native speaker myself.)

There is a recurring phrase in the text: "...this is my heart advice." To anyone who knows the meaning of "direct, unembellished, rare, crucial teaching", this sounds quite beautiful, but I'm wondering if, for an average reader, "my heart's advice" would actually sound better?

The Tibetan word is snying gtam, snying meaning "heart" and gtam meaning "advice, talk, discourse" etc.

Update

More than expressing sincerity of purpose on the part of the one giving the advice, snying gtam expresses the qualites of the advice itself: pithy, essential, unadorned.

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  • Seems ungrammatical to me. Maybe it has to do something with Buddhism, of which I am not aware.
    – Noah
    Aug 17, 2013 at 14:48
  • That said, this is my heart's advice seems grammatical, but that's not something you have in mind.
    – Noah
    Aug 17, 2013 at 14:52
  • @Noah Are you saying this is my heart's advice sounds too literal? Or not conveying "crucial, most essential" advice?
    – Felixyz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:32
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    "My heart's advice" would be advice that I share out of emotional reasons (either about the advice itself or about the person I'm telling it to).
    – The Photon
    Aug 17, 2013 at 18:47

1 Answer 1

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The phrase does not sound familiar or especially intuitive. There is a common English phrase, heartfelt advice that indicates advice given with deep sincerity

But I am not sure whether that is what you are trying to convey.

SUPPLEMENT

Then perhaps soulful advice mean deep or profound. (Unless soulful has another connotation in Buddhism that would conflict.)

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  • Thanks! I have considered heartfelt advice but think it's got more to do with the intention, as you indicated, rather than the meaning of "heart" as the essence of something. I'm hoping "my heart's advice" would carry some of that meaning.
    – Felixyz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:16
  • Related, maybe from the bottom of one's heart could work? (Although it is quite lengthy.)
    – iterums
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:36
  • @bib "Soul" is almost a taboo concept in Buddhism, so that wouldn't work. (Also, sorry, but the main association for me is Otis Redding or James Brown.) And again, it seems to me the focus is on the manner of giving advice rather than on the quality of the advice given, which is what I'm looking for.
    – Felixyz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:40
  • @iterums Thanks. It's a nice expression, but yes, quite long and I'm looking for a simple noun phrase.
    – Felixyz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:44
  • @bib In any case, my main question was whether "heart advice" sounds odd, and you've answered that. But maybe "...my heart's advice" sounds almost as odd?
    – Felixyz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:47

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