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ZEN NOTES, 1962

January, 1962

January, 1962

  • Cover: Tiger, by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Buddhist Students. There are two kinds of Buddhist students, and both have merits: Those who pursue wisdom directly, and those who follow the commandments. It is not easy to find a complete Buddhist -- a person who can attain both. Sokei-an discusses the Buddha's analogy comparing students to horses -- the best horse will run at just the shadow of a whip. Edited by Brian Heald.

February, 1962

February, 1962

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: The Messenger of Hell. Sokei-an, as a small boy, saw images of Hell on a Buddhist temple. Hell includes both demons and spirits being tormented. Brahmacharis with five mysterious powers can supposedly escape from hell, but Sokei-an has yet to meet one. Edited by Brian Heald.
  • Letter from Kyoto: Ruth Sasaki has spent twelve conecutive New Years in Kyoto. This letter contains descriptions of the activities of the Japanese New Year's celebration. Preparations are extensive, and people are typically exhausted when it comes to the actual holiday. On New Year's day they trek off the the shrine to secure good luck for the coming year -- health, wealth and general good fortune. By the fifth day of the New Year's celebration, the house and kitchen are a mess, and men head on back to work -- it takes a couple of days for them to resume a normal schedule.

March, 1962

March, 1962

  • Cover: Bird drawing, by Vanessa Coward.
  • Sokei-an Says: The Three Bodies. The Trikaya, or Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, and Nirmanakaya are the three bodies of Buddha. Dharmakaya means body or truth or body of law, Sambhogakaya is our own consciousness, and Nirmanakaya means transformation body. Reconstructed by Mary Farkas

April, 1962

April, 1962

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: The Four Foundations. This is a lecture about the renunciation of desire as a key to opening the door to Buddhist wisdom and freedom. A sleeping elder is contrasted with a young novice in samadhi. The four foundations are (1) desire; (2) concentration and samadhi; (3) tranquility and (4) observation. Edited by Brian Heald.
  • Letter from Kyoto, by Ruth Sasaki. This letter discusses Ruth's trip to visit Izumo, her favorite Shinto shrine, and the oldest major shrine in Japan. Avenues leading to the shrine are lined with tents and booths selling souvenirs. Shinto shrines are unbeliveably rich, with the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo bringing in 2,000,000 visitors during the first three days of the New Year. The following day she visits Yaegaki Shrine and the modest Castle of the city of Matsue.

May, 1962

May, 1962

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Nirodha: This is a talk about Nirodha, or Annihilation, which is contrasted with Nirvana, a similar term having an entirely different meaning. This talk includes a discussion of Nirodha in relation to the Five Skandhas: Rupa, Vedana, Samjna, Samskara and Vijnana. Also the Five Skandhas are discussed with respect to their use in the Prajnaparamita Sutra. Edited by Brian Heald.
  • Vanessa Coward's Ink-Paintings will be on Exhibition May 17- June 8 at the New Art Center Gallery.
  • The Chinese Character Five: This is a discussion of the origins of the classical Chinese character for the number "5".

June, 1962

June, 1962

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: The Shape of Mind. Shakyamuni Buddha and Maudgalyayana discuss a monster which they have seen. Sokei-an attempts to discuss the metaphorical significance of monsters from the point of view of Mind. The Alaya Consciousness is the base of the mind, and this talk is mainly about the Alaya Consciousness.

July, 1962

July, 1962

  • Sokei-an Says: Real Existence. To understand Buddhism, you must enter it through the front gate, not one of the side entrances commonly taken by European scholars. Shingon -- Mantrayana Buddhism -- divides existence into six elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether and jnana, where jnana means "consciousness" or the "power to know". This lecture includes references to Plato, Aristotle, the Hosso sect, and Dharmalakshana, or "Appearances of Dharma". Buddhists attempt to adapt themselves to reality, instead of trying to mold reality to match their own conceptions -- like a woman wearing a corset and padding to conform to a mental notion of beauty.

August, 1962

August, 1962

  • Sokei-an Says: The Universe is Another Name for Infinite Consciousness. The Buddhist does not think that the Universe was created, rather that it is eternal existence. It is not possible to separate matter from consciousness. The outside is one side of Emptiness, and the inside is the other side. There is a famous Koan: "Is the stone existing within us, or is it existing outside in the garden? Sokei-an also discusses his understanding of color and his life as an art student.
  • Of Vanessa Coward The Critics Say:. NY HERALD TRIBUNE: "'Fruit in an empty bowl' sounds unappetizing but isn't." NY TIMES: "That Mrs. Coward is an adept at Oriental calligraphy and stylistic devices adds to the authentic air of her work."

September, 1962

September, 1962

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: The Seven Abiding Places of Consciousness, I. The Seven Abiding Places of Consciousness are among the Buddha's oldest teachings. This is a teaching unlike anything found in the West. The seven places are: (1) Kamadhatu -- world of desire; (2) First Dhyana, first Zen stage or Sanskrit vijnana, wisdom consciousness; (3) Second Dhyana -- bliss and relaxation; (4) Third Dhyana -- only relaxation; (5) Arupadhatu -- the abode of consciousness; (6) Consciousness only; (7) Latent consciousness. You can experience two or three or four of them at once.
  • Letter from Kyoto, by Ruth Sasaki: A hot dry summer day, 86 degrees by mid-morning. August is a busy time in the library, since scholars are on vacation from their respective universities, and have more time to spend at Ryosen-an. The end of work on Zen Dust is in sight -- three or four more weeks. There are 10 regular sitters at Ryosen-an, a cosmopolitan international group, and spirited dicsussion on the use of electric fans during zazen periods. References to Yasutani Roshi, Harada Sogaku Roshi, Robert Aitken and the Diamond Sangha of Hawaii.

October, 1962

October, 1962

  • Obituary: William Lindsay Gresham. 53-year old author of "Nightmare Alley" and other books on carnival life. He was a tall dignified man known to members of the Wendesday night group, and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Sokei-an Says: The Seven Abiding Places of Consciousness, II. The final approach to Buddhism is to understand what Nirvana is. Kamadhatu is desire, Rupadhatu is sense without desire, Arupadhatu is no-thinking-mind. Sentient beings living in Arupadhatu are living in all three at once. According to Shariputra, one of the Buddha's great disciples, the first abiding place is the mind of the sentient being. In the first stage of meditation we think philosophically; in the second, we perceive but do not pursue; in the third, we experience a bliss that embraces the whole world. The fourth stage of meditation is relaxation -- "Now I have come back home."
  • Tea Talk: That Way -- Danger A combination of drugs and psychotherapy has come to be called "neo-zen".

  • The Sixth Patriarch Says: Wrong View is the cause of the Three Venomous Minds. "If you allow the three venomous minds of Wrong View to grow in your mind, the demon will come and dwell in your house." The three poisons are: greed, anger and ignorance, or raga, dvesa and moha in Sanskrit.

  • Letter from Kyoto, by Ruth Sasaki. November 21 marks annual ceremonies in honor of the three "founders" of Daitoku-ji: Kido Chigo, Daio Kokushi and Daito Kokushi, and this letter contains biographical sketches of all three. Kido Chigu (1187-1269) was a Chinese Zen Master, and teacher of Nampo Jomyo (Daio Kokushi). Nampo Jomyo (1235-1309) was a Japanese Zen master who trained under Kido Chigu, and later abbot of Kotoku-ji and later Sofuku-ji. Shuho Myocho (Daito Kokushi) was a Japaneze Zen master who trained under Daio Kokushi and was famous for spending 20 years living with the beggars under Gojo Bridge in Kyoto.
  • I Go to Visit a Semi-God. Poem by Li-Po Translated by Sasaki and Maxwell Bodenheim

November, 1962

November, 1962

  • Cover: George Fowler
  • From Admont to Zen: The World of Historian George B. Fowler George Fowler is a tall white-haired professor with an aristocratic bearing and a passion for medieval history; the period from 400 to 1400 A.D. He is a demanding professor with a wide-ranging intellect. A Fullbright Scholar and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Dr. Fowler became a student of Oriental Religions and Zen Buddhism in particular since first contact. He has served as president of the First Zen Institute since 1944. This article is reprinted from PITT, a periodical published for the alumni and friends of the University of Pittsburgh.
  • History was Made in Chicago in 1893. This is a discussion of the part played by Soyen Shaku in the World Parliament of Religions.
  • Arbitration Instead of War. A talk given by Soyen Shaku at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893.
  • Letter From Kyoto, by Ruth Sasaki. Ruth reminisces about the time thirty years ago (in the early 1930s) when she first took tea with Nanshinken Roshi, who agreed to accept her as a student. She describes this encounter as "my first lesson with a Zen Master". Later, the monks invite her to the meditation hall, where she is offered a chair aside "rows of monks sitting like statues." This was the start of her Zen training.
  • A Communication From the Maha Bodhi Society of India. They request that Zen Notes give some publicity to the birth centenary of Mr. H. Dharmapala of Ceylon, one of the delegates to the World Parliament of Religions in 1893.
  • During the Course of A Recent Visit. The 70th anniversary of the coming of Buddhism to the West -- is it really 70 or just 69 years?

December, 1962

December, 1962

  • Cover: The Broom, by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: The Five Principles of Sweeping. Sweeping is a metaphor for cleaning up the dust in your mind. The "five principles of sweeping" are discussed. Mind stuff makes trouble for us, and by meditating we can sweep away the dust in our minds.
  • Paintings of Han-shan and Shih-te, by an unknown painter; from the collection of William C. Segal of New York.
  • The Three Awakenings, by Sokei-an Sasaki. In the Agamas, the Buddha speaks about awakening. Kanzan (Ch. Han-Shan) was a Zen poet who lived in awakened consciousness, a hermit who spent his days meditating among the mountain peaks. A man who has lived in awakened consciousness cannot go back to the so-called "stage of sleeping." In the Shingon school, the priest will tell you to concentrate on the word "A," but in Zen, you don't even rely on this. Reconstructed by Brian Heald.

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