Asking you to Contemplate, & Speculate

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desertwoodworker
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Asking you to Contemplate, & Speculate

Post by desertwoodworker » Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:36 pm

I wonder if you'll please opine or inform on this, as you consider it (if you will).

Ch'an went from a country that used an alphabet to one that doesn't: Bodhidharma legendarily traveled from India, to China.

Scholars say, and others agree, that Ch'an flowered in China, and became something that it could not have become in India (although there are indeed Indian ancestors or patriarchs of Ch'an and Zen).

Is the difference that Ch'an found in China perhaps due to a difference in the way the brain works when it processes alphabetic text (Pali and Sanskrit writing), versus the way it processes ideograms (Chinese and Japanese characters)? I'm speculating that reading and writing based on "pictures" may err-r, "orient" the brain and its other workings differently than a text-based writing does. Does this have an effect on how Ch'an or Zen practice develops and proceeds, historically, or in a given practitioner's practice-career?

In the West, most of us are "back" to practicing within an alphabet-based culture again, as was the case originally in India.

Thanks! for considering this.

--Joe

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jundocohen
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Re: Asking you to Contemplate, & Speculate

Post by jundocohen » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:59 am

desertwoodworker wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:36 pm
I wonder if you'll please opine or inform on this, as you consider it (if you will).

Ch'an went from a country that used an alphabet to one that doesn't: Bodhidharma legendarily traveled from India, to China.

Scholars say, and others agree, that Ch'an flowered in China, and became something that it could not have become in India (although there are indeed Indian ancestors or patriarchs of Ch'an and Zen).

Is the difference that Ch'an found in China perhaps due to a difference in the way the brain works when it processes alphabetic text (Pali and Sanskrit writing), versus the way it processes ideograms (Chinese and Japanese characters)? I'm speculating that reading and writing based on "pictures" may err-r, "orient" the brain and its other workings differently than a text-based writing does. Does this have an effect on how Ch'an or Zen practice develops and proceeds, historically, or in a given practitioner's practice-career?

In the West, most of us are "back" to practicing within an alphabet-based culture again, as was the case originally in India.

Thanks! for considering this.

--Joe
Purely anecdotal. I have been a translator of Japanese for 30 years, and a student of Chinese before that. I am also a one time teacher of "memory palace" mnemonics devices based on converting abstract information into creative and concrete mental images. Something like this:

https://www.magneticmemorymethod.com/ja ... e-mastery/

I have found that, overally, Japanese folks tend to struggle with the technique because they find the creation of imaginative and original images difficult.

https://www.magneticmemorymethod.com/ja ... e-mastery/

Many of the Kanji are so far removed from their meanings that they are not particularly a picture of anything. For example, the simplest characters look like what they represent, e.g., person 人, but soon one is at a different level of abstraction where the Kanji have very loose connection to what they represent, e.g., beautiful = 美 = big sheep. Granted, it did get lonely some night out on the ranger, so those big sheep might be quite comely.

Gassho, J

avisitor
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Re: Asking you to Contemplate, & Speculate

Post by avisitor » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:02 pm

Complete speculation and BS ....

In China, there are many diverse areas which have different dialects.
Some wise King decided that people may keep their dialects but must learn the King's written language
So, written Chinese is the same for all of China even if the dialects are different
In other words, looking at the same picto-graphs would have different sounds for the different dialects but same meaning
And in this way, a decree put up by the King's men would be understood by the locals

The effect of characters versus alphabets in a written language would affect the way the world is interpreted
Example would be that English has the word "PHONE" and in Chinese it was directly translated as "Electricity Talk"
In English, a word for some thing can be made up. Named. Where as in Chinese, the word is more descriptive of the nature.

How would this affect the nature of teaching the Buddha's Dharma?
None that I can see as the Buddha's Dharma is the direct pointing at the real nature of a person.
Often, the teachers were protective of the teachings and dispense only when needed.
Practice sitting in meditation is usually the first instructions given

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fuki
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Re: Asking you to Contemplate, & Speculate

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:16 pm

avisitor wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:02 pm

How would this affect the nature of teaching the Buddha's Dharma?
Ofcourse what is locally known as Buddhism is purely due to causes and conditions, so ofcourse Chan wouldn't be Chan as we know it now without what Joe mentioned, just as what is locally known as "fuki" or "avi" would have been different if we were born 10 miles away with different parents, or if we would have learned swahili instead of english/dutch, as we are the sum total of everything we ever experienced, encountered etc etc

The non-conceptual dharma ofcourse is beyond words and letters, countries, causes and conditions, so it can't be mapped or evolve, nor decline. :)

But the alphabet thingy Joe refers to, it's interesting, but I wouldn't know since I have no comparing materials.

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