Email: Charles Luk Reprints and ‘Copyright’ (26.10.2020)

Charles Luk (1898-1978)

Dear B

Thank you for your interesting email(s). 

Richard Hunn (1949-2006) moved in much more appropriate circles for this task, and possessed the effective connections (which is everything within UK culture), to ‘influence’ Publishers in the activity of reprinting the books of Charles Luk as hard-copies circulating within the real world.  As a consequence, Richard Hunn was not that interested in using the internet for this task, and left this interesting possibility to myself and my friends and colleagues. Oddly, living in (Kyoto) Japan from 1991-2006 seems to have firmly centred his mind upon the wonderful and magnificent temple architecture in the area (that was spared from US bombing during WWII). On occasion, I would receive a postcard or letter (with photographs) detailing his latest expedition and experiences in an ancient temple whilst interviewing an old master! He discovered that the older Japanese spiritual and martial traditions (unsullied by the influence of Japanese fascism prior to WWII), were a) often from China, and b) retained their Chinese character. Many of these old masters (and their teachers) were left to pursue their respective spiritual paths in the 1930s and 1940s – and were completely bypassed by WWII.  

As for the practicality of ‘reprints’ – all I have managed to do is authorise and guide the (2011) Bulgarian-language reprint of ‘Empty Cloud’ (Xu Yun’s Biography) published in paperback. I believe someone translated the text into Spanish and published the text online with my initial approval. A number of US publishers have contacted me over the years with the idea of reprinting the texts purely for their own commercial enrichment. They are seeking some kind of ‘approval’ from someone they think has ‘authority’ – and then they ‘exclude’ the approval-giver from the rest of the project, etc. This is similar to publishers wanting to print or reprint our work whilst substantially ‘changing’ it, or not changing what needs to be changed. As matters stand, occasionally, a US Publishing House (such as Samuel Weiser) reprints the odd Charles Luk title (such as ‘The Secrets of Chinese Meditation’ and ‘Ch’an and Zen Teaching – Series Two’, etc). In India, the Publishing Houses ‘Munshiram Manoharlal’ (New Dehli) and ‘Motilal Banarsidass’  (email: often reprint the odd title. Richard Hunn used to keep a continuous dialogue with people he knew – who worked in these businesses – and in return they tried to influence their bosses to reprint, etc. Occasionally, I would receive a postcard informing me of a ‘success’ in this area, or even a ‘new’ copy of the ‘Surangama Sutra’! As I do not possess the same social connections in this area, I have not been as effective as Richard Hunn.  

This is why I have focused my efforts upon direct (forensic) translations published straight to the internet for immediate dissemination and ‘ingestion’ by the general public. My function involves a direct connection (and effective interacting) with Chinese Buddhist and Daoist masters, academic colleagues, friends and acquaintances living and working within Mainland China – and/or elsewhere in the world (I.e. the ‘Chinese Diaspora’). On occasion, we our honoured (and humbled) to have important Chinese people take the time to visit us (in our flat) in South London, etc, whilst visiting the UK. One small success in this area has involved one or two of my English-language articles about our Ch’an lineage in the West being picked-up by the Chinese-language media – translated into the Chinese-language- and published throughout the Chinese-language print media and across the Chinese-language internet.  

Of course, Daoist Master Zhao Ming Wang (and his colleagues) has always supported my work without question or limit. As regards ‘Copyright’ – Richard Hunn directly contacted Irene Luk around 1987 for permission for the 1988 reprint of ‘Empty Cloud’. As Charles Luk’s daughter – she owned the control of her father’s ‘Copyright’ and Intellectual Rights to his work. Irene Luk, I believe, was elderly herself at the time, (we think about 60-yers-old), and she gave Richard Hunn (and his authorised academic staff) – ‘Permission’ to reprint this text with the caveat that the ‘Copyright’ remains the property of Charles Luk. Therefore, Irene Luk stated the Copyright notice should read: ‘The Executors of the late Charles Luk 1988’. Remember, this was a time before the development of the internet, and all the changes and possibilities of reproducing ‘Copyrighted’ texts without violating that ‘Copyright’, etc. When Richard Hunn requested that we use our family connections in the Hong Kong area to locate Irene Luk in 2002, despite our best efforts, we could not find any mention or knowledge of her!  

Peace in the Dharma 


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