Dharma World

October-December 2014, Volume 41

October-December 2014, Volume 41(PDF)

Buddhism and Language

Religion in general has a close affinity with language, and both are vital components of any culture. Language is used to express and teach the religious truths that people of faith believe have been inspired by divine beings. Believers use language to explain and share spiritual insights.

Buddhism, especially Zen, however, values the kind of direct spiritual awakening that comes when the mind transcends language. This does not mean, however, that language is not vital to Buddhism. To record and share the Buddha’s teachings, numerous sutras and commentaries have been written and have been translated into many languages in the course of Buddhism’s transmission from one country to another.

Now that Buddhism is no longer a mainly Asian religion, but is embraced beyond Asia by millions of people in the West and other areas where Judeo-Christianity has prevailed, language has become more important than ever as a tool for people of different cultural backgrounds to share its teachings.

To gain an overview of what role language plays in Buddhism, we would like to approach the theme from the following angles: (1) the power of sutras; (2) the role of mantras and dharani in Buddhism in India, Tibet, and East Asia; (3) the significance of parables and similes; (4) the significance of language in revealed religion and the religion of awakening; (5) the pros and cons of using language as a means of spiritual liberation; (6) the difficulty of translating Buddhist sutras and commentaries into Western languages; (7) recent progress in worldwide spread of the teachings and the influence of linguistic and cultural differences on the teachings.

Dharma World

  1. Spring 2021, Volume 48

    What Is Prayer?

  2. Autumn 2020, Volume 47

    Religion’s Role in Building an Inclusive Society

  3. Spring 2020, Volume 47

    Violence in Buddhism

  4. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  5. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  6. July-December 2018, Volume 45

    The Buddhahood of Plants and Trees: The Environment and Buddha-Nature

  7. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  8. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  9. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  10. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  11. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  12. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  13. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  14. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  15. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  16. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  17. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  18. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  19. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  20. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  21. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  22. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  23. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  24. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  25. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  26. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  27. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  28. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  29. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  30. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  31. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  32. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  33. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  34. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  35. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  36. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  37. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  38. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  39. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  40. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  41. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  42. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  43. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  44. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  45. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  46. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  47. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  48. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  49. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  50. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  51. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  52. April-June 2006, Volume 33

    Creating the World of the One Vehicle: The Centennial of the Birth of Rev. Nikkyo Niwano

  53. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  54. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  55. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  56. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  57. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  58. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  59. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  60. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  61. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  62. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  63. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  64. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  65. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  66. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  67. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  68. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  69. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  70. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  71. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  72. November-December 2002, Volume 29

    Roundtable Disscussion at the World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom

  73. September-October 2002, Volume 29

    Sixth Assembly of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  74. July-August 2002, Volume 29

    The Most Reverend Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Recipient of the 19th Niwano Peace Prize

  75. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  76. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  77. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium

PAGE TOP