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Zen Notes

50 years of Zen Notes: Press Release

The current (Fall, 2005) issue celebrates 50 years, more or less, of Zen Notes, the flagship publication of the First Zen Institute of America.

For a half century, Zen Notes has been offering its subscribers Sokei-an Sasaki's translations and teachings, along with materials on the history of Rinzai Zen in China, Japan, and America.

Sokei-an, heir to the Ryomokyo-kai traditions as taught by Soyen Shaku and his disciple Sokatsu Shaku, was the first Zen master to settle permanently in the United States. His name is linked to the emerging interest in Buddhism in the early part of the Twentieth Century.

Though Sokei-an died in 1945, shortly after his release from an internment camp established for Japanese during World War II, Zen Notes has kept his insights and perspectives alive.

For most of its first four decades, Zen Notes was hammered out by Mary Farkas, who presided over the institute during those years. She labored at it first on an impressive-looking antique with obscure functionality, and later, on a manual typewriter.

In addition to publishing transcripts of Sokei-an's lectures, Mary also wrote about visiting Japanese Zen masters and, through excerpts from Ruth Fuller's Letter from Kyoto, she kept readers informed about Zen practice in Japan and the growth of Zen in America.

Lamp, the present editor has upgraded the equipment and software. The publication is written, designed and printed in the Zen Institute's 30th Street quarters. Under Lamp's stewardship, the entire Zen Notes series has been collected and bound and is sold for $300. Some back issues are also available online at http://www.firstzen.org/archives.html

In addition to Zen Notes, the First Zen Institute has published many of Sokei-an's teachings and perspectives in several books, including Zen Eye, Zen Pivots, and Holding the Lotus to the Rock. Sokei-an's commentary on the Sixth Patriarch's Platform Sutra is being prepared for publication.

Zen Notes is $10.00 a year. Make check payable to First Zen Institute of America, Inc. 113 East 30 St. NY, NY 10016

Contact Peeter Lamp, Editor

The First Zen Institute is in the process of making the entire collection available online here.