Empty Cloud Photographs (1974) & (1988) Editions
Author's Note: Around 2010, I worked as a 'Consultant' for the Bulgarian-language Edition of 'Empty Cloud'. Although I refused any payment for this work - I did agree to receiving a photocopy of the very rare '1974' Edition of 'Empty Cloud' produced by the Zen Buddhist expert in America - Roshi Philip Kapleau (1912-2004) - some pages of which I share here, Charles Luk said that Roshi Philip Kapleau was shocked and appalled when he learned of how many post-WWI Japanese Zen teachers were 'invited' to teach Zen in America by the US government had committed or encouraged 'War Crimes' and 'Crimes Against Humanity' in China between 1931-1945! Furthermore, his Japanese Zen teacher - Master Yasutani - was also annoyed to find that Philip Kapleau had been communicating with Charles Luk and was saying (and writing) positive things about Master Xu Yun and Chinese Ch'an Buddhism! ACW (17.12.2021)
DEDICATED TO ROSHI PHILIP KAPLEAU (1912-2004)
In 1974, Roshi Philip Kapleau of the Rochester Zen Center, New York, USA, arranged with an elderly Charles Luk (1898-1978) to publish his full translated text entitled 'Empty Cloud: The Autobiography of Chinese Zen Master Hsu Yun'. - Translated by Lu Kuan Yu (Charles Luk) . Roshi Philip Kapleau established the 'Empty Cloud Press' to handle the commercial side of this project. The photographs that can be seen above are the only two examples of Xu Yun that appear in this edition and is indicative of the time which saw China 'excluded' entirely from the West on one-hand, and on the other practicing a type of 'self-isolation' for purification purposes. China's military had inflicted shocking defeats on the Western forces during the War of US Aggression in Korea (1950-1953) and would not be permitted re-join the the international community until 1979 (when the US established full diplomatic relations). This transition in policy saw China 'open up' and begin the process of sharing its culture with the world. Although Westerners travelled to China and even trained a Buddhist monks during the 1980s, by the time Richard Hunn (1949-2006) came to 'revise' Empty Cloud', he still did not have direct contact with Mainland Chinese academia or the Chinese Buddhist Association (ironically re-established by Master Xu Yun in 1952). Instead, he relied upon Irene Luk - the daughter of Charles Luk - who lived in Hong Kong in the 1980s and who put Richard Hunn in-touch with the 'Buddhist Library of China' which operated in the region. Two false assumptions about China were peddled at the time by the Cold War US which involved the myth that Chinese Buddhism had either died-out (or been destroyed in China) - or that when it did exist it was 'corrupted'! These racially motivated lies were compounded by the further falsehood that only 'Japan' preserved 'authentic' Buddhism when in fact its spiritual traditions had been infiltrated and compromised by the fascist ideology decades previously! In 1988, when not navigating the bureaucracy of the 'Buddhist Library of China' (which had no direct links with Mainland China), Richard Hunn had to rely on other prominent Buddhist friends in the UK who shared photographs of Xu Yun with him - which were rare then but which are common-place today, as they are easy to locate and download from the internet. The two pictures (above) which are the only photographs featured in the 1974 Edition also appeared in the 1988 Edition (which contains a total of fifteen  different photographs).
What follow are the rest of the photographs that Richard Hunn chose to include in the 1988 Edition. Irene Luk (the daughter of Charles Luk) collaborated with Richard Hunn to bring the 1988 Edition to fruition - but when Richard asked my assistance in locating Irene in Hong Kong (through my Chinese family connections) around 2000 - despite our best efforts, we could not locate Irene anywhere in the region. Irene put Richard in contact with the 'Buddhist Library of China' operating in Hong Kong. I know nothing about this entity then or now, and suspect it was transformed, transitioned or dissolved following the 1997 return of Hong Kong to the Motherland. As a consequence of Richard's efforts, perhaps elevon of the fifteen photographs included in the 1988 Edition originate from the 'Buddhist Library of China'. One photograph is attributed to Dharma-Master 'Hin-Lik' - a British 'ordained' Buddhist monk described as living in the Buddhist community on Lantau Island at the tine. Another photograph is attributed to 'James Tsai' of the 'Buddhist Association of Taiwan'. There are two photographs not ascribed to any provider and I am inclined to think that these may have been provided by 'Stephen Bachelor' - the British practitioner of Korean Buddhism - and to whom Richard Hunn offers 'thanks' for his photographic contributions in his Acknowledgements. The photograph facing page 13 is incorrectly described as featuring Master Xu Yun and his first Buddhist teacher - Master Miao Lian (1824-1907) - when in fact it features Master Xu Yun and 'Lin Sen' (1868-1943) - the then 'Nationalist' President of the Republic of China (who met Master Xu Yun in that capacity in 1931, such was the high regard that Xu Yun was held). The photograph facing page 34 encompasses two errors. The first is that it is NOT the 'Liurong' (六榕) or 'Six Banyans' Temple situated in the Guangzhou area of Guangdong province - but rather depicts the 'Yunqi' (云栖) or 'Cloud Abode' Temple in Kunming (Yunnan province) - better known by its older name of 'Huating' (華亭), or 'Magnificent Pavilion' Temple (which Xu Yun was visiting in 1926). The second error is that Charles Luk appears to be translating the second Chinese ideogram found in '云栖' as 'xi' rather than the more correct 'qi' throughout his rendering but I can find no other such translation of this character in Chinese-language sources. To be clear. '栖' can be pronounced 'qi' or more rarely 'xi', but the name as used for this temple, at least as far as I can see, is always pronounced 'qi' when translated into the English language. This may well be due to Charles Luk being unfamiliar with the developing Mainland Chinese system of Pinyin, although checking his text as used in the earlier 1974 Edition - Charles Luk utilises the old (Western) Wade-Giles system and renders '云栖' as 'Yun Hsi'. Staying faithful to his teacher's opinion - Richard Hunn simply transitioned the Wade-Giles 'Hsi' to the Pinyin 'Xi'. Upon reflection, this difference may be due to Charles Luk operating through his native Cantonese (Guangdonghua) dialect which pronounces names slightly differently to those found in the Beijing-based (and now 'standardised') Putonghua language of modern China. Regardless of the reason, my job in this affair is to expose the limitations of the past, do away with them, and breath new life into the autobiography of Master Xu Yun! In other words, I am doing exactly what Richard Hunn entrusted me to do. Richard Hunn had accessed the Chinese-language version of Xu Yun's autobiography and had seen how many pictures are usually included in its openly chapters - as some of those are included in 'Empty Cloud'!