If I am an illitrate of all (this worldly languages) and I am aware of all the unanswered doubts, then how come i'll explain you 'what I have asked or answered ? There are so many bars in putting questions or placing answers people. Ahh.. Nt easy admin.

5 Answers 5


Language or the word, is a barrier in a sense that it can not present the totality of an experience. Language is linear and fixed.Experiences are fluid. It is not like taking a photograph or making a duplicate.When one uses language or words to describe an experience what happens is the experience itself is transformed. Language is a way to solidify the vague feelings and sensations and thoughts as a means to organise reality ( or our impressions of reality).Though language, like thinking has its uses, it is also a way for the ego to solidify experiences which are impermanent.First we think then we churn our thoughts using words then before we know it we've built a solid wall of concepts around us imprisoning ourselves from the world of sensing or experiencing or just being.This is why its said that Language shows and hides their meaning at the same time.So like everything else in life language should be used skillfully and not as a substitute for reality.


I think I remember a story told of the Dalai Lama walking through a crowd, and meeting someone in the crowd who had some mentally illness. According to the story, the Dalai Lama took that man's hand in his own and held it for a while, and the man (who had been unhappy) relaxed.

The story was told as an example of His Holiness's compassion (and communication).

I suppose there are several different types of language barrier:

  • Doesn't understand written language ("illiterate")
  • Doesn't understand spoken language ("deaf")
  • Understands one natural language but not another (e.g. understands english but not chinese)
  • Doesn't understand technical vocabuary (for example Pali words such as dukkha)
  • Sensory barriers (e.g. different people are in different rooms)
  • Learning disability (e.g. someone didn't learn to communicate when they are an infant child, etc.)
  • Mental barriers (e.g. someone is drunk, drugged, mentally ill, etc.)

Language is a "system of communication". It might be like "a bridge over a river" or "two people holding hands". There might be a limit to what or how much can be communicated, but language can be as much "bridge" as it is "barrier".

On the other hand, the part of one's mind which communicates using language can (I guess) be mistaken as the 'self' or 'ego'. Language is a sensory (conditioned) phenomenon. Some meditative practices (e.g. "guarding senses" etc.) may be intended to reduce one's dependence on communication.


As for literacy in general-- you have to remember that the Buddha didn't write anything down. I'm not sure that he was literate. There weren't books, instead people did incredible feats of memorization.

Or did you mean you personally? So far this community is full of people who really want to help you people with their question. If you just keep throwing words at people, some will stick. Usually if it is an interesting question, people will edit your question to clean up the English.

In the old Pali texts, the speaker often uses many words with similar meanings in a row, as if they are trying to make sure that if you don't understand one word, you'll understand one of the next near synonyms.

If you keep throwing words at us, we will eventually get the point and in turn, we will keep throwing words at you until we reach an answer.

(This isn't true on all StackExchange sites, on some sites, like StackOverflow, questions get closed if they aren't coherent and reasonable.)


Language is a means of communication. When it comes to the Dhamma the role of language is the elaborate the techniques and provide guidance. The realisation should be at the experiential level.


I was looking through the answers for the most famous Buddhist story about an illiterate person... the 6th patriarch, Huineng. He was illiterate yet (he could not read or write) but due to great past merit and cultivation, when he heard a Buddhist sermon he Awakened. Afterwards he just worked in the monastery and the head, the 5th patriarch, did not know of his Awakening for a long time until he did a poetry contest to find the most Awakened student.

Huineng was born into the Lu family in 638 A.D. in Xinzhou (present-day Xinxing County) in Guangdong province. His father died when he was young and his family was poor. As a consequence, Huineng had no opportunity to learn to read or write and is said to have remained illiterate his entire life. from Wikipedia

I reccommend reading the full story from The Diamond Sutra Explained by Master Huai-Chin Nan.

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