A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Post Reply
Posts: 1075
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am


Post by befriend » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:14 am

hi im trying to wrap my mind around the meaninglessness of language and how it is just a projected convention. if i never learned english and learned chinese, i would have no idea what anyone on the forum were saying. so its like if i replaced all my thinking with chinese i wouldnt have any problems it would just be nonsense.
so language is not reality just a convention, can anyone help me with this, shine a little more light on the topic? metta, befriend
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

User avatar
James the Giant
Posts: 792
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:41 am

Re: language

Post by James the Giant » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:25 am

Yes you're right. languages are artificial constructs with no inherent meaning. Useful tools though.
What was the problem?
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

Posts: 1075
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: language

Post by befriend » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:31 am

thanks i was just not grasping it.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

User avatar
Posts: 2591
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: language

Post by ground » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:31 am

Language are hearable sounds or visible forms that are learned from others in the context of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and feeling. Simultaneously to cultivating imputation of "meaning" (i.e. to associate a remembrance of one or more sense perceptions) to these sounds "inner language" (thinking) arises dependently. :sage:

Posts: 245
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:40 am

Re: language

Post by jackson » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:06 pm

Greetings Befriend,
I think you're on the right track here, but the way to truly understand this is not by coming to some conceptual conclusion, but to look at things in such a way that you can see that the world as you know it arises in the mind, in this way you can see through language and concepts in general. There are some good points to reflect on, just ask the right question and look for the answer through seeing, not through conceptual proliferation. One thing you could look at is how once you create a thing you also create a self in relation to that thing and then you could ask yourself what happens if the mind doesn't give rise to a subject/object dichotomy. The more clever you are at asking the right questions the deeper you can look at this issue, but the only way you'll ever truly grasp the profundity of this topic is by seeing for yourself. Anyway, I hope that helps and if not then feel free to disregard it.
Best wishes! :smile:
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

Posts: 8014
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: language

Post by SarathW » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:53 pm

Hi Befriend
I can relate to your question. I speak two languages and I have some understanding of other few languages.
People insult me calling “Black” in English, to me some times. So I get upset and annoyed. When a Chinese call me a “Black” in Chinese I don’t get upset because I do not understand it.
So I used to think that if I did not know English I would have been better off. But I acquired most of my knowledge in English for which I indebt to English language.

So not knowing a language is comes down to ignorance.

PS: My mother tounge is Sinhalease. I indebt to Sinhalease language. As it derived from Pali, I can undestand Buddha Dhamma in a more practical level or more meningful way. I have learned little bit of French,German,Spanish and Japaneese languages as well. They became very handy when I travel around.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Posts: 1720
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm

Re: language

Post by gavesako » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:09 am

"And what is the result (vipāka) of perception (saññā, cognition)? Perception has expression (vohāra, language) as its result, I tell you. However a person perceives (re-cognizes) something, that is how he expresses it: 'I have this sort of perception.' This is called the result of perception."

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, saññānaṃ vipāko? Vohāra-vepakkaṃ, bhikkhave, saññaṃ vadāmi. Yathā yathā naṃ sañjānāti tathā tathā voharati, evaṃ saññī ahosinti. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, saññānaṃ vipāko.

"And what is the cause by which perception comes into play? Contact is the cause by which perception comes into play." ... 6-063.html

Four distortions of perception (saññāvipallāsa): 1. one sees what is impermanent as permanent, 2. painful as pleasurable, 3. what is not-self
as self, 4. what is unattractive as beautiful.
Distorted perception -> speech and concepts which are unreliable.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts - Sutta translations

Post Reply