Redzen wrote:The limitations of translating ideas, concepts, and meaning from the various languages of Asia used to record Buddhism into Western languages must leave some gap in meaning or understanding.
Sanskrit and Pali are actually closer to English (they're all Indo-European) than Chinese or Tibetan. The Chinese struggled for many centuries to understand a lot of classical Indian ideas (their translation methods also left out a lot of nuances and grammatical forms), whereas western languages have the advantage of possessing a philosophical heritage not so distantly related to Indian lines of thought (there was a lot of interaction between Hellenic and Indian civilizations in ancient times, see The Shape of Ancient Thought
). It is arguably easier to translate classical Indian ideas and terms into modern English than Chinese or Tibetan.
However, translating uniquely Tibetan or Chinese ideas into English might prove more problematic for a number of reasons. For example, a lot of ideas found in Chan texts are so terse and nebulous at times that content must be added to sufficiently render such ideas into English.
Ancient Indian culture and the cultures of East Asia where Buddhism has thrived is far different to the Western cultural milieu. This is a very fundamental question for me if I am to embark on Buddhism in any meaningful and significant way.
Indian and Hellenic cultures in ancient times were not so different. Again, The Shape of Ancient Thought
goes into great detail explaining the common interactions between the two civilizations. Watch the following video if you're interested:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXBygl-ox5Q