Dharma Wheel

A Buddhist discussion forum on Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism
It is currently Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:41 am

All times are UTC [ DST ]


Forum rules


Please click here to view the forum rules



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 6:44 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:14 pm
Posts: 854
There was some discussion of this book a few months ago.

Some took umbrage to the mutsuk's saying that Chinese failed to convey the meaning of dharma; as far as I have read though, (two readings before I had to return it to the library) Park doesn't actually say this. He does critique one notable case of heavy interpolation in an early translation of the Ambattha Sutta, where caste issues which were relevant to Indian culture were replaced with some topics that were more relevant to Chinese society. However, he notes that this was not typical and other interpolations are usually quite minor, and decreased over the different periods of translation.

On the central topic of the book, how Buddhism acquired a "soul", he also notes that while there were issues in the earliest period of translations because the Chinese originally never had a concept of a permanent self to refute in the first place, the later translators did emphasize the central doctrine of anatman. However, already in Indian Buddhism at the time of the translations (and the Chinese translated both sravakayana and mahayana texts simultaneously), the tathagatagarbha already presented a concept that is difficult to distinguish from the Upanishadic Atman.

After knowledge of Sanskrit declined, based on the available translations as well as exchange with Daoist thought, which itself evolved over time to have its own of ideas consciousness, a 道(dao) that basically bears the characteristics of sat, cit and ananda which form the Upanishadic definition of atman emerged in Chinese Buddhism. He notes that Chan took this to its culmination, where dao is the "nature of mind", :rolling: , sounds familiar?

In the conclusion, he certainly acknowledges that Chinese Buddhism has departed very much from early Buddhism, but he ends off in a fairly positive tone.

There are certain limitations of the Chinese translations certainly, such as the whole strict syllabic structure, lack of a formalized descriptive grammar which developed among inflected languages as well as strong reliance on cultural context, but I think mutsuk overstated her some of her claims.

If one's goal is to reconstruct early Buddhism, then the Chinese texts are still invaluable for comparative study, and as for practice, well, the Mahayana sutras on their own already diverge so much from the Sravakayana texts, so I think it is ultimately a personal issue. Tibetans also came up with their own deviations over the centuries and some teachers also teach things that are very hard to distinguish from atman. If we want to have a universal Buddhist dialogue we should certainly base it on the Sravakayana texts, but if the main tradition you follow has its own deviations from the shared canon (as all existing traditions do), then there is no point criticizing other traditions based on that.

I'm not saying anything new here of course, as Geoff and Malcolm have put it across in different ways before. I hope you don't take any offence either mutsuk, thank you very much for this recommendation, I will try to buy a copy. :bow:


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:42 pm
Posts: 332
Sherlock wrote:
There was some discussion of this book a few months ago.

Some took umbrage to the mutsuk's saying that Chinese failed to convey the meaning of dharma; as far as I have read though, (two readings before I had to return it to the library) Park doesn't actually say this. He does critique one notable case of heavy interpolation in an early translation of the Ambattha Sutta, where caste issues which were relevant to Indian culture were replaced with some topics that were more relevant to Chinese society. However, he notes that this was not typical and other interpolations are usually quite minor, and decreased over the different periods of translation.

On the central topic of the book, how Buddhism acquired a "soul", he also notes that while there were issues in the earliest period of translations because the Chinese originally never had a concept of a permanent self to refute in the first place, the later translators did emphasize the central doctrine of anatman. However, already in Indian Buddhism at the time of the translations (and the Chinese translated both sravakayana and mahayana texts simultaneously), the tathagatagarbha already presented a concept that is difficult to distinguish from the Upanishadic Atman.

After knowledge of Sanskrit declined, based on the available translations as well as exchange with Daoist thought, which itself evolved over time to have its own of ideas consciousness, a 道(dao) that basically bears the characteristics of sat, cit and ananda which form the Upanishadic definition of atman emerged in Chinese Buddhism. He notes that Chan took this to its culmination, where dao is the "nature of mind", :rolling: , sounds familiar?

In the conclusion, he certainly acknowledges that Chinese Buddhism has departed very much from early Buddhism, but he ends off in a fairly positive tone.

There are certain limitations of the Chinese translations certainly, such as the whole strict syllabic structure, lack of a formalized descriptive grammar which developed among inflected languages as well as strong reliance on cultural context, but I think mutsuk overstated her some of her claims.

If one's goal is to reconstruct early Buddhism, then the Chinese texts are still invaluable for comparative study, and as for practice, well, the Mahayana sutras on their own already diverge so much from the Sravakayana texts, so I think it is ultimately a personal issue. Tibetans also came up with their own deviations over the centuries and some teachers also teach things that are very hard to distinguish from atman. If we want to have a universal Buddhist dialogue we should certainly base it on the Sravakayana texts, but if the main tradition you follow has its own deviations from the shared canon (as all existing traditions do), then there is no point criticizing other traditions based on that.

I'm not saying anything new here of course, as Geoff and Malcolm have put it across in different ways before. I hope you don't take any offence either mutsuk, thank you very much for this recommendation, I will try to buy a copy. :bow:


Thanks for the review. I've been meaning to check this book out.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:19 am
Posts: 137
Yes, the book was recommended to me on this forum, and I agree with the recommendation.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 

All times are UTC [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group