Eric Arnow

Eric   Eric

Cuke Podcast with Eric 🔊

Interview with Eric about Suzuki and his SFZC history

a snippet in Brief Memories of Shunryu Suzuki

Eric Arnow has his own web site now, the Bumble Buddhist

which contains all his old emails from Asia

posted through the years here in the Comments section of cuke.

8-07-15 - Eric comments on his trip to Russia

on his Bumble Buddhist blog - July 15 and May 9 2015 entries

6-16-14 - Why I Stay in Monasteries - written a while back by Eric, sent to his Uncle

4-07-14 - Information Clearinghouse - Eric Arnow's favorite news site

3-22-14 -  Eric 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.

3-21-14 - Meeting Ming Hai  - abbot of Bai Lin Si, the temple of Zen Master Joshu by Eric Arnow on Bumble Buddhist. - sent from Chiang Mai, Thailand

12-02-13 - 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 enlarge



1-29-12 - Language Imperialism, Concepts and Civilization: China versus The West - By Dr. Thorsten Pattberg

See negative reviews below

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.)

Eric Arnow

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 sources, either.

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.