Here is an outstanding work for which two eminent scholars of Chinese Buddhism separated by 2000 miles of ocean collaborated for complete ten years, during which 'the manuscript crossed the Atlantic four times'. The authors' aim has been to provide a key for the student with which to unlock a closed door and which does serve to reveal the riches of the great Buddhist thesaurus in China.
In the absence of a dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, it was small wonder that the translation of Chinese texts has made little progress, important though these are to understanding of Mahayana Buddhism, especially in its Far Eastern development. Two main difficulties present themselves: first of all, the special and peculiar use of numerous ordinary Chinese terms, and secondly, the large number of transliterated phrases. To explain, the Buddhist cannon in Chinese being basically translation or analogous to translation, a large number of terms existing are employed approximately to connote imported ideas, as the various Chinese translators understood those ideas. Various translators invented different terms; and even when the same term was finally adopted its connotation varied, sometimes widely, from the Chinese term or phrase as normally used by the Chinese. A difficulty equally serious is the transliteration of Sanskrit, a difficulty rendered far greater by the varied versions of many translators.
In order to overcome these difficulties a work like the present one was really needed, though the authors in all humility confess: 'It is not as perfect or complete as it might be. Nevertheless, it seems better to encourage the study of Chinese Buddhism as early as possible by the provision of a working dictionary rather than delay the publication perhaps for years, until our ideas are satisfied - a condition which might never be attained.
After the dictionary went to press Prof. Soothill died. The work on the dictionary however was completed. For ten years we worked together he at Oxford and I at Harford and the manuscript crossed the Atlantic four times. During his semester in New York as visiting Prof. in Columbia University and on my brief visit to Oxford we had opportunity to consult together on some outstanding problems. The work of organizing the material and harmonizing the differences was done by Prof. Soothill. He was will equipped to undertake the task of producing a Buddhist Dictionary is still in use. He knew Chinese culture and religion. He possessed a keen sense for the significant and a rare ability to translate abstruse terms into terse English. But even more valuable was his profound insight into and deep sympathy with the religious life and thought of another people.
The text and the indexes were again finally revised during his last long illness by Lady Hosie under his supervision. He was able to appreciate the kind collaboration of Dr. Lionel giles on the earlier proof-sheets. But his death meant a vastly increased amount of work for Dr. Giles who on the other side of the Atlantic from myself has had to assume a responsibility quite unexpected by himself and by us. For two to three years with unfailing courtesy and patience he has considered and corrected the very trying pages of the proofs while the dictionary was being printed. He gave chivalrously of his long knowledge both of Buddhism and of the Chinese literary characters. He adds yet another laurel to the cause of Chinese learning and research. And in the same way Prof. F.W. Thomas bore the brunt of the Sanskrit proof reading. We have indeed been fortunate to have had our work checked in extensor by such exacting scholars.
To sir E. Denison who kindly looked over the proofs added certain welcome corrections out thanks are due. Also we would wish to acknowledge the help of Mr. L.M. Chefdeville who putting his experience of various oriental languages at our disposal made many helpful suggestions especially as regards the indexes. Nor do we forget the fidelity and careful work of the printers Messrs. Stephen Austin and sons who collaborated with us in every way in out desire to produce a volume a little worthy of its notable subject.
Our object is well expressed by my late colleague. The difficulties in the production of the book were not small. Buddhism has a long history. Its concepts were impregnated by different cultures and expressed in different languages. For about a thousand years Buddhism dominated the thought of China and her first rate minds were occupied with Buddhist philosophy. For a period it lagged but to-day is in a different position from what it was a generation ago. Buddhism is no longer a decadent religion and in certain countries it is making considerable progress. It is therefore to be hoped that this dictionary will help to interpret Chinese culture both through the ages and to-day.
As compilers of the first Dictionary of Chinese Mahayana Terms, we are far from considering our attempt as final. Our desire has been to provide a key for the student with which to unlock a closed door. If it serves to reveal the riches of the great Buddhist thesaurus in China, we will gladly leave to others the correction and perfecting of our instrument. It was Dr. E. J. Eitel, of the London Missionary Society, who over sixty years ago, in. 1870, provided the first means in English of studying Chinese Buddhist texts by his Handbook for the Student of Chinese Buddhism. It has been of great service; but it did not deal with Chinese Buddhist terminology in general. In form it was Sanskrit-Chinese-English, and the second edition unhappily omitted the Chinese-Sanskrit Index which was essential for the student reading the Chinese Sutras.
Lacking a dictionary of Chinese Buddhist terms, it was small wonder that the translation of Chinese texts has made little progress, important though these are to the understanding of Mahayana Buddhism, especially in its Far Eastern development. Two main difficulties present themselves first of all, the special and peculiar use of numerous ordinary Chinese terms; and, secondly, the large number of transliterated phrases.
In regard to the first difficulty, those who have endeavored to read Chinese texts apart from the apprehension of a Sanskrit background have generally made a fallacious interpretation, for the l3uddhist canon is basically translation, or analogous to translation. In consequence, a large number of term existing are employed approximately to connote imported ideas, as the various Chinese translators understood those ideas. Various translators invented different terms; and, even when the same term was finally adopted, its connotation varied, sometimes widely, from the Chinese term or phrase as normally used by the Chinese. For instance, klesa undoubtedly has a meaning in Sanskrit similar to that of $, i.e. affliction, distress, trouble. In Buddhism affliction (or, as it may be understood from Chinese, the afflicters, distress, troubles) means the passions and illusions; and consequently fan-nao in Buddhist phraseology has acquired this technical connotation of the passions and illusions. Many terms of a similar character will be noted in the body of this work. Consequent partly on this use of ordinary terms, even a -well-educated Chinese without a knowledge of the technical equivalents finds himself unable to understand their implications.
A difficulty equally serious is the transliteration of Sanskrit, a difficulty rendered far greater by the varied versions of many translators. Take, for instance, the word Buddha “and its transliteration as and so on. The pages of the Chinese canon arc peppered with such transliterations as these from the Sanskrit, in regrettable variety. The position resembles that of Chinese terminology in Modern Science, which was often transliteration twenty or thirty years ago, when I drew the attention of the T3oard of Education in Peking to the need of a regulated terminology for Science. Similarly, in pages devoid of capitals, quotation-marks, or punctuation, transliterated Sanskrit into-Chinese may well seem to the uninitiated, whether Chinese or foreign, to be ordinary phrases out of which no meaning can be drawn.
Convinced, therefore, that until an adequate dictionary was in existence, the study of Far Eastern Buddhist texts could make little progress amongst foreign students in China, I began the formation of such a work. In 1921 I discovered in Bodley’s Library, Oxford, an excellent version. of the Fan I Ming I Chi, i.e. Translation of Terms and Meanings, composed by Fa-yun, circa the tenth century A.D. At the head of each entry in the volume I examined, some one, I know not whom, had written the Sanskrit equivalent in Sanskrit letters. These terms were at once added to my own card index. Unhappily the writer had desisted from his charitable work at the end of the third volume, and the remaining seven volumes I had laboriously to decipher with the aid of Stanislas Julien’s Methode pour dechiffrer et transcrire less noms sanscrits qui se rencontrent dans les livres chiniois 1861 and various dictionaries notably that of Monier Williams. Not then possessed of the first edition of Eitel’s Handbook I also perforce made an index of the whole of his book. Later there came to my knowledge the admirable work of the Japanese Oda Tokuno in his and also the Chinese version based upon it of Ting Fu-pao called the in sixteen volumes also the one volume. Apart from these it would have been difficult for Dr. Hodous and myself to have collaborated in the production of this work, other dictionaries and vocabularies have since appeared not least the first three fascicules of the Hobogirin the Japanese Sanskrit French Dictionary of Buddhism.
When my work had made considerable progress, Dr. Y. Y. Tsu called upon me and in the course of conversation mentioned that Dr. Hodous, of Hartford Theological Seminary, Connecticut, U.S.A., who had spent many years in South China and studied its religions, was also engaged on a Buddhist Dictionary. After some delay and correspondence, an arrangement was made by which the work was divided between us, the final editing and publishing being allotted to me. Lack of time and funds has prevented our studying the Canon, especially historically, or engaging a staff of competent Chinese Buddhist scholars to study it for the purpose. We are consequently all too well aware that the Dictionary is not as perfect or complete as it might be. Nevertheless it seems better to encourage the study of Chinese Buddhism as early as possible by the provision of a working dictionary rather than delay the publication perhaps for years until out ideals are satisfied a condition which might never be attained.
We therefore issue this compendium for it is in reality more than a dictionary in the hope that many will be stimulated to devote time to a subject which presents so fascinating a study in the development of religion.
My colleague and collaborator Dr. Hodous took an invaluable share in the draft of this work and since its completion has carefully read over the whole of the typed pages. It may therefore be considered as the common work of both of us for which we accept a common responsibility. It seemed scarcely possible for two men living outside China separated by 2,000 miles of ocean and with different mentalities and forms of expression to work together to a successful conclusion. The risky experiment was hesitatingly undertaken on both sides but we have been altogether happy in out mutual relations.
To Dr. F.W. Thomas Boden Prof. of Sanskrit Oxford University I am deeply indebted for his great kindness in cheeking the Sanskrit terminology. He is in no way responsible for the translation from the Chinese but his comments have led to certain corrections and his help in the revision of the proper spelling of the Sanskrit words has been of very great importance. In the midst of a busy life he has spared time at much sacrifice to consider the Sanskrit phrases throughout the entire work except certain additional words that have since some to my notice. As an outstanding authority not only on the Sanskrit language but on Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Language his aid has been doubly welcome. Similarly Dr. Hodous wishes specially to thank his colleague at Trinity college Hartford Conn. Dr. Leroy Carr barret for the generous assistance he rendered in revising the Sanskrit terms in his section of our joint work and for his well considered and acceptable comments and suggestions.
Dr. Lionel Giles Keeper of the Department of Oriental Printed Books and MSS British Museum illustrious son of an illustrious parent has also out special appreciation for he magnanimously undertook to read the proofs. He brings his own ripe scholarship and experienced judgement to this long labor and the value and precision of the Dictionary will undoubted be enhanced through his accurate and friendly supervision.
Next we would most gratefully acknowledge the gift of Mrs. Paul de witt Twinem of Trenton New Jersey USA. She has subscribed a sum of money which has made the publication of our work possible. To this must be added further aid in a very welcome subvention from the prize publication fund of the Royal Asiatic society. Such a practical expression of encouragement by fellow orient lists is a matter of particular gratification.
Our thanks are due to Mr. Zu-liang Yih who with accuracy zeal and faithfulness has written the large number of Chinese characters needed. To the Hon. Mrs. Wood I ma grateful for help in the exacting task of transcribing. As to my daughter lade Hosie I have no words to express my personal indebtedness to her. Without her loving and unflagging aid as amanuensis I should have been unable to finish my part in this work which so the authors hope will once again demonstrate the implicit and universal need of the human spirit for religion and its aspirations towards the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
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