Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zen in the Art of Archery - Eugen Herrigel

Zen in the Art of Archery - Eugen Herrigel
So many books have been written about the meditation side of Zen and the everyday, chop wood/carry water side of Zen. But few books have approached Zen the way that most Japanese actually do--through ritualized arts of discipline and beauty--and perhaps that is why Eugen Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery is still popular so long after it first publication in 1953. Herrigel, a philosophy professor, spent six years studying archery and flower-arranging in Japan, practicing every day, and struggling with foreign notions such as "eyes that hear and ears that see." In a short, pithy narrative, he brings the heart of Zen to perfect clarity--intuition, imitation, practice, practice, practice, then, boom, wondrous spontaneity fusing self and art, mind, body, and spirit. Herrigel writes with an attention to subtle profundity and relates it with a simple artistry that itself carries the signature of Zen.
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1 comment:

  1. It would be wise to read Herrigel's book with a somewhat skeptical ear. An scholarly article in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies' by YAMADA Shõji brings to light much that might be missed if the book is read without considering Herrigel's linguistic and cultural context. I certainly knew nothing of these aspects when I read it with pretty uncritical naivete many years ago.

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