4-07-14 - Information
Clearinghouse - Eric Arnow's favorite news site
Arnow on a talk to a group of monks at Wat Suan Dok, in Chiang Mai,
Thailand - an overview of his 2013 pilgrimage to China, a followup to
yesterday's post from his Bumble Buddhist blog.
abbot of Bai Lin Si, the temple of Zen Master Joshu by Eric Arnow on
Bumble Buddhist. - sent from Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand: Uprooting Wall Street's Proxy Regime -
Eric Arnow sends this which he says is more
accurate than what's coming out of US news media.
12-24-11 - Eric Arnow on Six Months in China in six parts.
Here's part one which will lead to the rest.
Here are two photos of temples that Eric sent in April, 2010
click thumbnails to
Language Imperialism, Concepts and Civilization: China versus The West
- By Dr. Thorsten Pattberg
See negative reviews
Sent by Eric Arnow with a copy of his
letter to the professor:
Dear Professor Pattberg,
I majored in German literature and both Goethe and
Nietzsche were influences on me to study Zen, or Chan, way back in 1971.
In 2007, I finally decided to visit China, and found great affinity with
Chinese people and culture.
There is something about Asian people in general and
Chinese in particular, their feeling of gentility, politeness, and subtle
intelligence that I don't find in Westerners, generally speaking. The
Guqin, in particular communicates this.
There seems to be affinity with Chinese and myself. One
artist said that maybe it was my meditation practice, but this artist said
I felt to him Chinese. I consider this a great compliment.
I feel kind of stupid, a barbarian around them, and am
grateful for the kindness they show me as a stranger. One of my Chinese
friends told me that as a child in school, her teacher told her that they
should always be kind to foreigners. Given what damage foreigners did to
China (think Opium Wars), it is amazing that they have this attitude.
Laotians and Vietnamese are far more forgiving of Americans, despite what
we did to their countries, than we Westerners deserve. On the other hand,
I meet Christian missionaries and am angered and embarrassed by their
arrogance and ignorance.
So thanks for your article.
"May all being beings enter Nirvana, the realm of Nirvana
that leaves nothing behind, and yet, when all beings have been led to
Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana. And why? If a
Bodhisattva has an idea of a being, he could not be a Bodhisattva."
(Diamond Sutra, Jin Gan Jing, first mass produced book published 700 years
before Gutenberg Bible.)
PS To my Chinese and Western friends, here is this interesting article:
Negative Reviews of the article. Eric was
"nonplussed," but I thanked him for sending it out and getting this
feedback. Most interesting. - dc
A well known and sagely Buddhist writer
who wishes to remain anonymous says about this article
I'm sorry but Dr. Pattberg's article is mostly bullshit. His numbers
of untranslatable words in Chinese and Japanese is sheer nonsense. Wenming,
the word for civilization, which he says is untranslatable, is perfectly
clear. It means "the wisdom that comes with writing" In Japanese
pronounced bummei. A focus on literacy, which leaves much to be desired.
So much else like that. He wouldn't get away with any of this if he were
in a European or American University. Please try and maintan a little
enlightened scepticism-- (and of course the great majority of the Han
population was illiterate throughout history.)
Bill Porter says:
I would call it a bogus assessment, David. I would say that shengren,
minzhu and wenming are all absent in China. Every culture makes up icons
they claim to follow but, in fact, do not. Certainly the Chinese have
theirs, and so do we. So what? Bill
Anonymous wrote this about Bill Porter's comment:
Bill Porter it seems to me to sort of misses the point.
All the words presented up by the prof in question are real (and
perfectly translatable) words -- need not be "iconic" any more than the
word "civilization" is iconic in Americano. Unpacking a word is just one
of the many ways you must go to get into modern meanings -- but modern
meanings cannot be assumed to reflect or carry on with old philological
Andy Ferguson writes:
Seems like the
author is just expressing what has been long recognized by linguists,
that language helps shape people's culture and thinking. But while there
are some terms in Chinese that are difficult or even impossible to
translate into English, the author overstates the importance of this and
draws incorrect inferences. For example, he says that the term "kong fu"
doesn't translate to an English equivalent. While this is true it
doesn't mean that Chinese and Westerners think differently. It just
means that the term "kong fu" has multiple meanings in Chinese and there
is no word in the West that has the same multiple meanings. In Chinese "kong
fu" can mean "martial arts" and also "advanced skill (in various types
of activities)." We don't have an equivalent western term that means all
these things, but we have the terms "martial arts" and also the words
"advanced skills." So while the language is different the way of
thinking is not decidedly different when we discuss the topics of
martial arts and advanced skills. While there are many words in Chinese
with multiple meanings and uses in context that have no English
equivalents, that doesn't mean that our underlying impressions and
thought processes are that different. It does, of course, make Chinese
interesting since the multiple meanings can be used skillfully to
express moods in poetry and writing. However, I don't think this means
there is a fundamentally different way of thinking at all.
It must be
acknowledged that because Chinese history and culture is so long and
rich there are countless stories, philosophical schools, poets, dramas,
historical novels, etc that Chinese people draw on, consciously or
unconsciously, and use in their everyday language. It is this vast
treasury of culture that Westerners are not familiar with, and this may
lead to the idea that Chinese civilization is innately superior or far
more refined than the West. Yet again, I'd say this overstates our
differences. For all its richness and cultural complexity, the treasury
of Chinese culture expresses human feeling and emotions not particularly
different from such expressions in other cultures.