On Contemplation and the Public Domain

I was reading On Haiku, by Hiroaki Sato this past January (highly recommended!), and in it Sato mentioned an article published in 1923, On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation translated by Kakuso Okakura, which was the first complete instructions for zazen translated into English.

At the time, it was January 2019, which was different from the previous 20 or so years in an important way—public domain had advanced one year, which meant that works published in 1923 were now public domain.

Well! I went looking for it on a whim and found a scanned copy online and began the process of typing it up…

(then 2019 happened. sigh)

AND then, in December, I pulled it back out and finished typing it up. It’s about 12,000 words, featuring the translation by Kakuso Okakura, and a forward from William Sturgis Bigelow.

So, here it is, in ebook form, the pamphlet. On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation by Chi Ki, translated by Kakuso Okakura.


ebook Cover for On The Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation

On the Method of Practicing Concentration and Contemplation

Chi Ki (Chik I)

A Monk of Shuzenji (Hsiutanszu) Monastery of Tendai (Tient’ai) Moutain

Translated by Kakuso Okakura

with a Prefatory Note by William Sturgis Bigelow

note: For the third-person singular pronoun, the translator used he/him, which would have been the proper style at the time. This has been changed the pronouns to they/them to reflect modern style guides. The preface remains unchanged.

eBook Oath

Would you pay $15 for a mass market paperback simply because it was released at the same time as the hardback?

I would not.

Like a hardcover, paperback, or trade paper edition, an ebook should have a fixed price range, based on the fact that it is an ebook, NOT on when it came out. The value of an ebook is not the value of a paper book.

No, “convenience” does not add value, it is a marketing word.

There are a lot of features a paper book will always have over an ebook. I can lend out my paper book. I can use it to prop up a table. I can sell my paper book. I can buy a paper book used.

No amount of convenience will make an ebook worth more than a paper book. Having it stored on a cloud service is not enough to make an electronic file with the text of Dune worth $15.

So here is my ebook oath, from me, a reader, a consumer, to you, the writer out there:

I promise to not pirate your work. Period.

I promise that if you are selling a DRMed text file for $10 or more, I will not buy it.

I promise to support you if your books are reasonably priced.

I promise to tell my friends about your reasonably priced books.

I promise to tell them to avoid your over priced books.

I promise to strip off any DRM on any books I buy. I will not be subject to Amazon or Barnes and Noble on whether I can read something I have paid for.

I promise that there is more to read in this life that I could ever hope to read, but I am going to try.