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Zen in the art of archery by Eugen Herrigel

Zen in the art of archery (original 1948; edition 1953)

by Eugen Herrigel, R. F. C. Hull

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2,038235,504 (3.73)11
This intriguing, influential work of literature--an outstanding way to experience Zen--is now available on cdIt is almost impossible to understand Zen by studying it as you would other intellectual pursuits. The best way to understand Zen is, simply, to Zen. This is what author Eugen Herrigel allows us to do by sharing his own fascinating journey toward a comprehension of this illuminating philosophy. In Japan, an art such as archery is not practiced solely for utilitarian purposes such as learning to hit targets. Archery is also meant to train the mind and bring it into contact with the ultimate reality. If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an "artless art" growing out of the Unconsciousness. In this way, as the author simply, clearly demonstrates, archery becomes a path to greater understanding and enlightenment.… (more)
Title:Zen in the art of archery
Authors:Eugen Herrigel
Other authors:R. F. C. Hull
Info:New York, N.Y. : Pantheon Books, c1953.
Collections:Your library

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Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel (1948)



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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
this is one of my favorite books of all time (thanks Mischa). for anyone who has ever toiled or practiced to get good at a sport or music or art, this book really helps you understand and appreciate what all the hard work is for.

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  aabtzu | May 18, 2020 |
The path to achieving Zen (a balance between the body and the mind) is brilliantly explained by Professor Eugen Herrigel in this timeless account.

This book is the result of the author’s six year quest to learn archery in the hands of Japanese Zen masters. It is an honest account of one man’s journey to complete abandonment of ‘the self’ and the Western principles that we use to define ourselves. Professor Herrigel imparts knowledge from his experiences and guides the reader through physical and spiritual lessons in a clear and insightful way.

Mastering archery is not the key to achieving Zen, and this is not a practical guide to archery. It is more a guide to Zen principles and learning and perfect for practitioners and non-practitioners alike.
  PSZC | Mar 12, 2019 |
I read this book a long time ago and I have returned to it.

Zen and the Art of Archery is still, for its time, an excellent description of an occidental immersing himself into the cultural and philosophical depths of Asia. When Herrigel visited Japan, he was unique, for there were not too many occidentals who ventured to Japan,nor were there too many who had the open mind or courage to enter into Asian art forms with guileless curiosity.

As a result, his account of his lessons with the master and his experience is about as pure as possible. But, he did still carry the Occidental ideas on learning, and training in an martial art. He was a skilled pistol shooter by his account so some of what his personal accounts were colored by that part of his makeup. His account though is relatively free of overt western arrogance and preconceived notions.

In the time that has elapsed between my first reading of this book and now, I have been changed by my own readings and prejudices. What Herrigel was trying to convey in this book, the modern writers call "flow", a term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. A state of being that conforms somewhat to what people used to call being in the zone, or the unconscious state of being completely comfortable with ones surroundings and being at such a heightened state of enhanced performance that performance is simple and unencumbered by the burden of thought. Indeed, the mind is completely unmoored from one's being, some have compared this to be a state of unconscious consciousness.

Ed Slingerland wrote about this in his book Trying Not To Try, a personal favorite. His concept of "flow" comes from Chinese philosophy, and it is called "wu-wei". There is indeed some differences between Slingerland's Chinese philosophy of Confucianism and Daoism versus Herrigel's Zen Buddhism. The Chinese school is much more formalized and more structured, while the Japanese is more mystical and less structured. Regardless of the formalism in their philosophy, the ideas are almost identical, different sides of the same coin.

The drawback for me is that Herrigel's account is showing its age, the accounts are somewhat naive and full of wonder at the vastly different turns of the mind that the master and other practitioners of archery practice versus his own Occidental mind.

I suppose I may be termed jaded after my own readings but Herrigel's account still carries a certain level of wonder as I read through it for the second time. It is indeed an excellent account of an Occidental's foray into the, for its time, mystery and mythical state of the Asian mind. It is still very worthwhile to read this short book and it is still very worthy of its place in the references on learning. ( )
  pw0327 | Jun 10, 2016 |
  Jway | Apr 18, 2016 |
There is only one thing the Zen Master has taught me, and it is that mud is better than words ("...boy"). So I feel kind of underwhelmed by Herrigel's attempt to Teutonize kyūdo into submission. Like, as long as he's trying to isolate its unique conceptual essence in the grand tradition of the idealist philosophers, you're all "yeah right man, I seen the Matrix or the Karate Kid, this never gonna work," and it doesn't, and then he learns to embrace irrationalism and wins the approval of his sensei (and who knows what that means really, since evidently it's not about whether the arrows hit their target exactly, but still kind of is, and I am every kind of a lover of things Japanese but there is a cultic aspect to this stuff that raises the spectre of the spurious for me) but he still hasn't emptied out entirely and you can see that unreason for him is not its own end still a kind of wild man way to break open and plumb this tradition and something doesn't sit right and then you look him up and sure enough, he was a committed Nazi right to the end and beyond. Presumably of the mystical variety, but still, ugh. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Mar 24, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eugen Herrigelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hull, Richard Francis CarringtonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suzuki, Daisetz T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Um dos aspectos mais significativos na prática do tiro com arco – e em qualquer outra arte praticada no Japão e provavelmente também noutros países do Extremo Oriente – é o facto de não ter quaisquer propósitos utilitários, nem se destinar à pura fruição estética. Na verdade, representa um exercício da consciência, com o objectivo de a pôr em contacto com a realidade última. Assim, não se pratica o tiro com arco no mero intuito de acertar no alvo, nem se maneja a espada com o fim de vencer o adversário, o bailarino não dança apenas para executar um movimento rítmico: acima de tudo pretende-se harmonizar o consciente com o inconsciente.
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