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ZEN NOTES, 1971

January, 1971

January, 1971

  • Cover: The Year of the Boar 1971
  • Sokei-an Says: Real Teacher. Sokei-an, citing master Rinzai, distinguishes real teachers from merely philosophical and metaphysical ones. Buddha himself is also cited to demonstrate the true meaning that a real teacher can and must convey to the student. As Buddha's story demonstrates, true understanding comes from within and only subsequently from without.
  • Obituary: Lawrence B. Chrow. A beneficent and generous guest of the Institute, Lawrence B. Chrow helped document many of its events and historic artifacts. He proffered sound and practical advice and held correspondence with some of the great thinkers of his time. He was an ally to organizations that aimed to benefit humanity.
  • Running Water. Buddha taught the significance of having a mind eye. This mind eye is described as the center of all our thoughts. The idea of the "body of mind" is discussed and illustrated through example. Reconstructed by Frances Reiter


February, 1971

February, 1971

  • Sokei-an Says: The Buddha's Death. Sokei-an discusses Buddha's death and his entrance in Nirvana. The student must realize that true religious speech and canonized speech are different. Upon entrance into Nirvana, the Universe offers itself to the Buddha.
  • Sokei-an Says: Suchness: Sokei-an discusses suchness or "isness". In studying sentient beings observe the sum of the elements of consciousness. The Buddha felt that the one standing before him was his own life. Reconstructed by Frances Reiter.
  • Sokei-an Says: Attain True Understanding: The stages of meditation and understanding begin with losing desire. Next, we proceed to the nameless stage where we realize the real body of the universe. We can then step back once more into form, color, and so forth, only now it is universal love that takes you out not desire.


March, 1971

March, 1971

  • Cover: Tulips, By Vanessa Coward.
  • Sokei-an Says: Attainment. The three principles of kamadhatu, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu are discussed. Sokei-an says you cannot come to understanding by devouring books. Attention must be turned away from thought and to the one who does the seeking.
  • The Final Instructions of Daito Kokushi: Daito Kokushi, in this yuikai (final instruction), tells the monks in attendance to always direct themselves, twenty hours a day, to the place beyond knowing.
  • On Chanting: Joshu Sasaki Roshi discusses chanting and how one must approach the chant. He says not to worry about the meaning and rather put your entire self into the sutra.
  • Sokei-an Says: The Foundation of Buudhist Practice. Sokei-an begins to discuss the three basic Buddhist principles of shila, samadhi, and prajna. He stresses the practice of regulation as paramount for the novice. In real salvation you attain the no-leaking mind and he goes on to explain this idea. Reconstructed by Frances Reiter.


April, 1971

April, 1971

  • Cover: Rabbit, by Vanessa Coward.
  • Joshu Sasaki Roshi: Talk. Joshu Sasaki Roshi recounts his first awakening or enlightenment and shares the story of becoming a monk at a very young age. He speaks of his first koan and how he came to realize its answer.
  • Sokei-an Says: Dharma.Rinzai cuts off all the branches and shows us the main trunk of the tree of Buddhism. Real understanding takes you back to your own ground of soul. Sokei-an defines Dharma as the law of the soul or cosmic law.
  • Sokei-an Says: Three Gates.Mind, thoughts, and body are discussed as three distinct gates to Buddhism. These three gates are described as leading into Zen. Along the mix of these gates, five ways of observing attainment are presented.


May, 1971

May, 1971

  • Cover: Bird Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Soul: From the soul everything is produced. Man's real work is to destroy preconceived ideas and old habits and to listen at every moment to directions written within. The one soul embodies everything. WE must understand nature's way and only then can we use it.
  • The Zen Sect of Buddhism: Buddhism is to teach you "What is this?" instead of "What to do." You must find something that is not ephemeral to base your life. This we often call emptiness and from it the entire Universe springs out. Reconstructed by Wm. H. McPheters.
  • Sokei-an Says: Tathagata-Garbha: Sokei-an discusses Shunyata (nothingness). Everything comes out of this nothingness. Finding this bottomless emptiness within you is key. Reconstructed by Mary Farkas.


June, 1971

June, 1971

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: No Name. Names are discussed as symbols of conception. Thus, reality cannot be seen clearly with philosophies. Manjushri and Samantabhadra are explained as symbols of the fundamental wisdom before conception.
  • Joshu Sasaki Roshi Says: Hands. Joshu Sasaki Roshi discusses posture in zazen, particularly the proper posture of the hands in forming the mudra.
  • Sokei-an Says: Terms of the Dharma. Sokei-an begins his translation of a very short and important sutra which presents a whole collection of Buddhist terms. The Three Vehicles of Mahayana, Pratyekabuddhayana, and Shravakayana are discussed in relation to one another. Reconstructed by Wm. H. McPheters.


July, 1971

July, 1971

  • Cover: Bird Stands Still Rock Moves, Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Seats Himself. Sokei-an explains the three stages of enlightenment. Rinzai doe not stay in tree root, trunk, or branches, but penetrates all of them. For human struggle wisdom in the body of thoughts creates a higher understanding.
  • Joshu Sasaki Roshi Says: Zen Practice. Joshu Sasaki Roshi discusses conceptions of God and religion. God is a unified oneness, Shunyata. It is a mistake to try to understand God in contrast to the self. We cannot get the true understanding without actual experience. Trans. M. Tsuchiya.
  • Books: Lotus Sutra. The Saddharma-Pundarika Sutra, often referred to as the Lotus Sutra, is the most famous and popular of all Mahayana scriptures. This English translation of the Lotus Sutra by Dr. Schiffer and Dr. Tamura adds further revision to the first translation by Dr. H. Kern.


August, 1971

August, 1971

  • Cover: Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Purposelessness. Sokei-an says that the whole faith of Buddhism is in purposelessness. When we think that we, our individual self, is doing something we are neglecting the law of the Universe that all we do is not our own work. The connection needs to be searched for inside.
  • Sokei-an Says: What are the Ten Paramitas? Sokei-an starts with a brief history of the paramitas and defines the term as a means "to reach the other shore of nirvana." He then goes through each of the paramitas and gives some stories to illustrate them more clearly. Reconstructed from 1936 series by VC.
  • Joshu Sasaki Roshi Says: Zen Practice. Joshu says that Zen practice is realization of yourself. Practice allows you to realize that the subject and object world we are used to is actually oneness. A story from the Mumonkan is told to illustrate nothingness, where subject and object are transcended and yet included.
  • Book Review: On Aggression. A scientific look into the obstacles of self-knowledge. Konrad enumerates three obstacles as our inhibition against awareness of our evolutionary roots; reluctance to accept the laws of causation; and our heritage of idealistic philosophy.


September, 1971

September, 1971

  • Cover: I Never Said I was the Dog of the Year, Drawing by Vanessa Coward
  • Sokei-an Says: Consciousness. Sokei-an uses consciousness to express the "one." The true standpoint is that all form, color, and sound are operated by this one consciousness. This consciousness does not belong to anything, but is one being, which we sometime call the Universe.
  • Sokei-an Says: The Eighteen Shunyatas. Shunyata is the base of Buddhism. Sokei-an explains six of these Shunyatas. Inside is empty, outside is empty, inside and outside are empty, emptiness is empty, the great elements are empty, and reality is empty.
  • Joshu Saski Roshi Says: Mu. Joshu continues his lecture on Joshu's Mu. He says that Zen students should manifest themselves sometimes as karma and sometimes as Buddha.
  • Norway. Mary takes a beautiful and inspiring trip to Norway, detailing some of her experiences with the unique landscape and friendly people.


October, 1971

October, 1971

  • Cover: Ruth Sasaki with Cat
  • Sokei-an Says: True Dharma. Sokei-an discusses true practice and understanding parallel to a passage written by Rinzai. Great information is revealed for those in the beginning stages of practice. There are great points on recognizing a great teacher and avoiding the trap of escaping from the physical world in your practice.
  • Book Review: On Reading Zen Diary by Paul Weinpahl. Zen Diary presents professor Weinpahl's struggle with understanding Zen under Goto Roshi. As a professor of philosophy Weinpahl's "reasoning" mind was his major impediment and challenge to awakening. Western intellectuals working with Japanese Roshi's also present unique language difficulties when discussing koans. As noted in the article, with some extra work these difficulties can be overcome.


November, 1971

November, 1971

  • Cover: Horse, by Vanessa Coward.
  • Sokei-an Says: Renouncer. Shakyamuni Buddha renounced his home an life and became a recluse, but it is important to understand renouncing the world as finding our original nature. The one who understands, though in the world, is a true recluse. In exterminating mindstuff you exterminate home and first mind returns to you.
  • Sokei-an Says: The Eighteen Shunyatas. This is a continuation of Sokei-an's multipart discussion on the eighteen Shunyatas, or emptinesses. In this part, Sokei-an discusses Shunyatas seven through nine, namely, creative purpose is empty, purposelessness is empty, and the conclusion is empty. Reconstructed by Wm. H. McPheters, Jr.
  • Book Review: Christian Zen by William Johnston. Mary Farkas provides a brief review of Christian Zen by William Johnston. An Irish Catholic priest in Japan who insists upon reading Christian scriptures as a Zen student would a koan.
  • Joshu Sasaki Roshi Says: Atop a Hundred Foot Pole. Joshu tells his students why he does not stay and live in the top of the mountains, choosing instead to return to the world and teach what he had learned. He likens this to the story of Sekiso in the Mumonkan. The religious man climbs the 100 foot pole with purpose, but once achieved becomes purposeless and returns to teach and help others.


December, 1971

December, 1971

  • Cover: Photograph Portrait of Sokatsu Shaku
  • Sokatsu Shaku. In this short biography commemorating Sokatsu Shaku, we learn of his early days, the events that moved him toward Zen, and his accomplishments as a Zen teacher and president of Ryomo-kai (Zen Institute in Japan). He was an extraordinary man with discipline and single-minded effort to present his entirety into everything he did and for this he was a great example for his students. Sokatsu's travels to the US with his disciples, beginning in 1906, transpired with among other things, the establishment of the First Zen Institute of America by one Sokei-an Sasaki. (Also "Rules for the Ryomo Zen Society's Members", "Doctrine of the Ryomo Zen Society", poetry by Sokatsu, and photographs and calligraphy throughout.)

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