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.

Richard Hunn (1949-2006) – British Sinologist.

‘In the meantime Richard was pursuing an academic career in Chinese Buddhist studies, and for a time ran the Chinese Buddhist Association at Essex University. This part of his life is rather diverse, involving an Oxford University sponsored research programme about the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, which involved a trip to Zurich and a meeting with Jung’s grand daughter. At this time Richard was shown a document written in Jung’s handwriting apparently expressing his belief that reincarnation might well be a real phenomena. This, and similar work was kept from the public by the Jung family because they thought that its content might diminish Jung’s academic standing. Richard’s interest with Jung arose because of Jung’s contact with Charles Luk. In 1961, when Jung was on his death bed, he was reading Luk’s first volume of Ch’an and Zen Teachings. Jung had his secretary write to Luk and explain that when Jung read what master Xu Yun taught, and when Xu Yun explained the realisation of the mind – Jung felt that he himself could have said just that! Much later, whilst living in Japan, Richard stumbled upon Jung’s entire published works in English in a small bookshop for a very small price. Before this, however, Richard had settled in Norfolk founding the Norwich Ch’an Association. Many people would visit Richard’s home and seek Ch’an instruction, and on occasion Charles Luk would even send one or two people, notably Chinese students from Malaysia.’