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Re: [Pali] Learning Chinese [was rRe: Kogen Mizuno]

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  • Stephen Hodge
    Dear Sukhi, ... urgency and ... in research ... Glad to hear that you are interested in learning Buddhist Chinese. Perhaps I can give you some advice. First,
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 4, 2004
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      Dear Sukhi,

      You wrote:
      > After meeting Ajahn Sujato (assistant to Ajahn Brahmavamso) I realise the
      urgency and
      > value of learning Classical Chinese. Ajahn Sujato is specially interested
      in research
      > in Yogacara meditation method (esp Satipatthana/Smrtyupasthana) esp the
      > Sravakabhumi.
      Glad to hear that you are interested in learning Buddhist Chinese. Perhaps
      I can give you some advice.
      First, the style of Chinese used in Buddhist texts varies enormously -- the
      translation period covers over 1000 years of continuous effort. Chinese
      translations of Buddhist texts reflect the skill and understanding of the
      translators involved -- though normally, as in Tibet, the work was done as a
      team effort involving at least an Indian / Central Asia scholar-monk and a
      Chinese scholar-monk, although possibly with an interpreter. Consequently,
      some translations are very poor and very difficult to understand, while
      others are very clear and instructive. The translators traditionally
      considered to have produced high-standard work were Kumarajiva, Xuan-zang
      and Amoghavajra. There were others, of course, mainly in the Sui-Tang era,
      who produced good work.

      As for Yogacara, I have spent many years working with Yogacara materials,
      though I would still hesitate to call myself an expert. You mentioned
      Yogacara meditation methods. What Asanga presents in the Sravakabhumi
      portion of the Yogacara-bhumi-sastra is not specifically Yogacara meditation
      at all -- rather, it is basically the standard mainstream Indian Buddhist
      method current at that time and is not even specifically Mahayana. In fact,
      the affiliation of Asanga is not certain. He is thought to have observed
      the Mahishasaka vinaya, thought to have been a mainland school closely
      linked to Theravada, but in other respects, Asanga seems to have followed
      the Mula-sarvastivadin school (aka Sautrantika) for his non-Mahayana
      doctrines etc. Nevertheless, the Sravakabhumi (also available in Sanskrit
      as well as an excellent Tibetan translation) is an exceedingly important
      text and I hope that a translation will appear soon -- a comparison of the
      contents with Buddhaghosa's Visuddhi-magga would be especially illuminating
      as it is recognized by some scholars that Budhaghosa incorporates "Yogacara"
      concepts into his own, a fact that is carefully ignored in some quarters.

      > I almost took up a course in Classical Chinese while in Berkeley, but I
      had too many
      > irons in the fire then. Anyway if anyone knows of online course or books
      for
      > self-study on Classical Chinese (Buddhist) through English, it would be
      great. Please
      > let me know.
      I have been planning a "Buddhism Trough Reading Chinese" introduction, as an
      companion to my Introduction to Classical Tibetan, but the publishers I was
      working with seem to think people like me can survive on thin air -- they
      don't pay and expect to pocket all the profits ! So it has gone onto hold
      while I do writing / translating that pays something. The reason why an
      introduction specifically for Buddhist Chinese is required is because
      standard Classical Chinese is not very helpful for Buddhist stuff -- the
      grammar, vocabulary, style etc etc is fairly different. Of course, a quick
      look through one of the two or three intros to Classical Chinese available
      in English will be some use to orientate onself to the way pre-modern
      Chinese works but then what ?? Ideally, if you could read Japanese, you
      could use one of the several excellent books devised specifically for
      reading Buddhist texts. Alternatively, if you are interested in the earlt
      suttas / agamas, you could look at short texts, using the Pali / English on
      the one hand and comparing it with the Chinese, as these are quite easy to
      understand. I have been looking out at the recent AN translations in this
      list but none so far have any Chinese equivalents. Just as Ven Yuttadhammo
      finds it helps his learning process for Pali, you might find the same for
      Buddhist Chinese. If there was sufficient interest, I might even be
      persuaded to start an introductory on-line course like the Pali courses
      here.

      OK -- I've written quite a lot here so I'll sign off now, but I can give you
      more advice or even help if you want at a later stage.

      Best wishes,
      Stephen Hodge
    • Ong Yong Peng
      Dear Piya and friends, in Singapore, you may like to consider some of the classes you can attend, such as the one on Selected Readings in Classical and Modern
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 4, 2004
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        Dear Piya and friends,

        in Singapore, you may like to consider some of the classes you can
        attend, such as the one on Selected Readings in Classical and Modern
        Chinese Literature offered by NUS Extensions:
        http://www.nus.edu.sg/nex/pdf/lifelong.pdf

        If you can already read Chinese, you can buy books on classical
        Chinese literature. There are also books on Chinese Buddhist sutras
        and literature.

        I think being able to read Chinese come first before reading the
        classics.


        metta,
        Yong Peng
      • Dan
        ... i would be very inteested in this. i am studying tibetan at the moment and would love to learn some chinese :) dan
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 5, 2004
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          >If there was sufficient interest, I might even be
          >persuaded to start an introductory on-line course like the Pali courses
          >here.

          i would be very inteested in this. i am studying tibetan at the moment and would love to learn some chinese :)

          dan

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        • Stephen Hodge
          Dear Dan, ... would love to learn ... I ll need to give it some thought -- initially, the main problem seems to be font display as some groups / list are not
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 6, 2004
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            Dear Dan,

            > i would be very inteested in this. i am studying tibetan at the moment and
            would love to learn
            > some chinese :)
            I'll need to give it some thought -- initially, the main problem seems to be
            font display as some groups / list are not unicode compliant. Anybody
            interested would also need to get a unicode font containing a traditional
            character set, possibly supplemented by the Mojikyo font for rare
            characters. Still, it would be an interesting challenge.

            Best wishes,
            Stephen Hodge

            PS: If you have seen it, have you found my Classical Tibetan Intro to be of
            use ?
          • Dan
            Hi Stephen, ... yes i have seen it and am actually hoping to buy a copy this weekend. it looks like a great book. i am currently at the level where i have
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 6, 2004
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              Hi Stephen,

              >PS: If you have seen it, have you found my Classical Tibetan Intro to be of
              >use ?

              yes i have seen it and am actually hoping to buy a copy this weekend. it looks like a great book. i am currently at the level where i have character recognition, but still need my notes at hand to check things. my vocabulary is growing slowly and i feel i am ready for some grammar now. i will be studying classical tibetan combined with comparative religion at SOAS in london for 4 years (one spent in tibet) and hope by the end to be reasonably proficient. in the very long term i hope to learn chinese as well, as i have read there are a great deal of untranslated texts in both of these languages.

              i look forward to reading your book !

              how cool to have 'met' you,

              metta,

              dan :)

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            • Terry
              Dear Group I have started a new group to announce recent academic works concerning Buddhism. Since I was spending some time every few months searching table of
              Message 6 of 6 , Aug 6, 2004
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                Dear Group

                I have started a new group to announce recent academic works concerning
                Buddhism.

                Since I was spending some time every few months searching table of contents
                of various journals looking for interesting articles to read, I thought that
                I might as well let others know about these too. My main interests are early
                Buddhism and modern Theravada, so this will be the main emphasis of the
                group. It should be low volume and will be moderated to keep out
                advertisements and spam etc.

                Hopefully it will be of some interest to members of this groop. Those
                interested my subscribe by sending a message to
                Buddhist_alerts-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or via the home page at:
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Buddhist_alerts

                regards

                Terryw

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