Originally posted by twhitehead
Same here. I often get the impression that they don't understand it themselves, but I can't be sure.
Do you “get the impression” that a Russian speaker understands what s/he’s saying, even if you don’t? Less trivially, do you tend to get the impression that people who use technical terms in any system understand them, even if you don’t? If you were to walk into, let’s say, an intermediate to advanced lecture on musicology (or poetry, or some other subject that you have no prior exposure to), and didn’t understand the “jargon”, will you leave with the impression that, because you didn’t understand what was being said, they don’t either?
If you have any interest, you’ll make an effort; if you don’t, you won’t. No fault there—really
; there are subjects that I too am not interested enough in to pursue even a basic line of questioning. But I’m suggesting that your “impression” is generally wrong. At least with regard to the Buddhists that I read and converse with—and with regard to myself, of course. 😉
Sometimes “jargon” (technical language) is more efficient, because translation—and this is true of almost any language, translating from Hebrew to English, for instance—often requires more words to capture the range and depth of meaning of the original, as well as extended explanatory commentary. Sometimes, a certain jargon may capture my aesthetic sense, but not someone else’s (why should I expect that should?)—and so I pursue that line of inquiry, and they don’t.
Zen itself is extremely straightforward; but Wittgenstein, for example, might appeal to someone else. But if you want a detailed, thoroughgoing study about
Zen, cast in Western scientific language, I might suggest Zen and the Brain
by research neurologist James H. Austin, M.D.. (I picked that one because of your scientific bent.) If not, not—again, no fault.
I have spent a lot of time on here over the years translating Zen Buddhism (and its inherited jargon) into English. Nevertheless, my failures at translation/explanation are just that: my failures, due to my shortcomings and lack of skill when it comes to that attempt
But I really don’t want to spend the time anymore. Sometimes somebody raises something that piques my interest, and it’s sometimes helpful as an aid to my own thinking to try to respond. But, mostly, I don’t have the interest in doing that to sustain the effort anymore. So this’ll likely be my last post on this particular subject. That doesn’t mean that I won’t from time to time converse on here with blackbeetle and Bosse and others who already have the jargon that allows for shortcutting (or maybe injecting a little koan
or Zennish bit of doggerel, without extended commentary).
My lack of interest doesn’t imply fault on my part either. No fault, all around.
EDIT: My Buddhist philosophy is mostly Zen; but my practice has become more Jodo Shin (I find that "translation" pretty effortless).