Buddhism: Pali Bhavana and Chinese Ch’an

Chinese transliterations and translations are useful as the early Chinese scholars had to understand the Indian Pali and Sanskrit terms before they could be rendered effectively into the Chinese language. Obviously, some of the early transliteration of Indian Buddhist terms are purely ‘phonetic’ in nature and in themselves do not convey much meaning as ideograms. This represents an initial process of a slow, careful and gradual building-up of knowledge in China about a thoroughly ‘foreign’ Indian philosophy that had to develop an ‘interface’ with existing Chinese culture.

Bhikkhus and Politics

In ancient days, according to the records of history, the welfare of the nation and the welfare of the religion were regarded as synonymous terms by the laity as well as by the Sangha. The divorce of religion from the nation was an idea introduced into the minds of the Sinhalese by invaders from the West, who belonged to an alien faith. It was a convenient instrument of astute policy to enable them to keep the people in subjugation in order to rule the country as they pleased.

Nyanatiloka: Playing with Emptiness

The Venerable Nyanatiloka Maha-Thera (1878-1957) was an eminent German-born Theravada Buddhist monk who entered the Sangha in Sri Lanka, and became renowned for exact and precise scholarly understanding of that school’s complex Dharma teaching. He possessed the ability to a) understand and contextualise often obscure Pali terms and concepts, and b) correctly transliterate and translate those terms into Western languages. His work regarding the Theravada School is reliable and insightful.

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