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Hara: The Vital Center of Man [Paperback]

Graf Von Durckheim Karlfried
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Nov 2004
When we speak of an individual's state, we are actually referring to something that transcends the duality of body and soul, something that reflects the entirety of a person's being. Because each of us is a unity of body and soul, there is no psychic structure or inner tension that is not reflected outwardly in the form and order of the body. When we find the physical center of the body we also find the psychological center of the soul. According to Zen masters, by correcting posture and breathing to balance this center, one can cultivate inner tranquillity and balance: the state called Hara. In Hara, Karlfried Graf Durckheim shows the Western world how to overcome the physical and spiritual decay of modern life by adopting the age-old techniques of Japanese Zen masters. By leaving behind the "chest out-belly in" posture and attitude of the West and adopting the belly-centered posture and attitude of Hara, individuals can live a calm, grounded, and more balanced life. Included in this classic text are vital life force practices and translations of the wisdom teachings of three Japanese Zen masters. This book also explores how the practice of Hara emphasizes empirical learning and the cultivation of self-knowledge through the perfection of arts such as painting and archery.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions Bear and Company; New edition edition (11 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594770247
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594770241
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""Hara" is essential reading for all who inquire into the spiritual principles and practices that are fundamental to all wisdom traditions and natural healing professions."

About the Author

Karlfried Graf Durckheim (1896-1988) spent eight years in Japan before World War II and was a professor at the University of Kiel until Hitler's rise to power in 1933. In Japan he discovered Zen Buddhism in its various expressions and subsequently became a Western authority on the subject.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT JUST FOR MARTIAL ARTISTS ! 27 Jun 2010
By Pete121
This is a profound book and not just for martial artists or those interested in Zen. The history (somewhat hidden) of Hara maybe has its origins in ancient Japan or the far east and can be connected to those arts of Archery, Calligraphy, and more recently Aikido etc. But this is a book and teaching for those looking for something that requires nothing more than awareness (critical awareness*...see The Way Of Transformation) and an understanding of our centre and how to adjust to this in our everday living.
It obviously requires a recognition of what Durkheim is pointing out in this book, but more importantly the actual putting it to proof is what this book is all about.
There are a few of his books most out of print, but there is another which goes into more detail, although it is a hard read in places maybe due to his background in Psychology, or that it is translated from his mother tongue of German, but if you connect with this book you will find this one equally important in living this life, with a much deeper connection......
The Way of Transformation: Daily Life as Spiritual Practice
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gobbledygook 27 Oct 2013
By Ryuto
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is totally incomprehensible!Terms are often left undefined, or their meaning skirted around leaving you guessing as to what they mean and what point is trying to be made. A this prevents you building on previous knowledge and it gets more and more meaningless. Reading this was like listening to Professor Stanley Unwin speaking. Books should be about communication and getting ideas across so when authors appear to be deliberately obscuring meaning I become suspicious of their actual understanding and of a case of the 'Emperor's new clothes'.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars new 31 May 2010
By books2
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a new concept for me so I have read it with an open mind. The feeling I got was that its old news and we have moved on and there is more evolved insight.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly explains the basis of Eastern "Ways" 2 July 2005
By J. Lovas - Published on Amazon.com
This is a fundamentally important book for anyone seriously interested in any of the Eastern "Ways": sitting meditation, martial arts (external or internal), yoga, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy etc. The clarity of the author's explanations is surprisingly crisp and practical.
This book was written in 1956, originally in German, so the grammar is a bit old-fashioned, and "man" is used exclusively for "person", but on the up-side, a refreshing air of unbridled enthusiasm prevails throughout.
I VERY highly recommend this gem of a book to serious spiritual seekers, martial artists, fine artists, all healers esp body workers, and those wishing to have deeper insight into Eastern philosophy.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely life changing book for all 1 Oct 2010
By R. Lowry - Published on Amazon.com
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to make themself healthier, calm their mind, relax their body, gain more energy and have more power. I would pay hundreds for a workshop to learn what this book put together for me. Buy this book!!!

I've been studying martial arts and Eastern Philosophy on various levels for 28 years. I now mostly study the internal arts of Qigong and Taiji, but anything that fleshes out my understanding of these arts I will read, anything from Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais method to studying Zen Buddhism and Taoism, standing meditation, or attending zazen meditation at the Zen Center, etc.

But this book just blew me away. It not only has all the selling points of why keeping our awareness in our center is vital, but most importantly it SHOWS us how to do that. Keeping our awareness there sounds simple enough, but we get yanked up and out of it all too easily. This book gives very practical, almost step by step instructions on how to solve the puzzle of softening the upper belly enough to breath there while maintaining a slight tension in the lower belly so we can support the pelvis and spine to build a firm foundation for upright standing and sitting. It tells us how to tuck the chin, relax the shoulders and bring a slight tension to the hara (the area below the navel and the low back across from it). We strengthen the hara on the LONG exhale, while the inhale can be just short and easy. This book really drives home HOW to strengthen the hara with the exhale. My review is purposely vague so as not to give away the best parts for free, so don't let my oversimplification ruin it. This is heads and shoulders better than 99% of what is out there.

The Appendix is worth its weight in gold, and the best part of the book, in my opinion. There are three Japanese masters each with a coresponding Appendix. In Appendix I, Master Okado has a long list of various quotes which is a great overview and checklist. In Appendix II, Sato Tsuji has an amazing Appendix on teaching the human body, I have read it a dozen times, no exaggeration it is that informative. Appendix III broadens out on the philosophical implications, my least favorite Appendix (because I got this book for somatic education reasons) but still solid work that I am sure I will expand on later.

Buy this book!!!

P.S. Another book that is in this ballpark is Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness

It goes into a lot more detail about whole body awareness, and I have to say that this book is also one of the few select most influential books for me along with the one I am reviewing. Absolutely life changing, practical, yet stunningly inspirational. Both books help anyone with any practice or with just living life and being present.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Endures 12 Jan 2009
By Ger Agrey-thatcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the very core of the Master's work, and essential to any spiritual practice im daily life. Written in the mid-fifties, its light is ever bright, and is a major contibution the the literature that includes Herrigel's Archery and The Book of Five Rings.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Focused 27 Feb 2010
By CrimsonFrost - Published on Amazon.com
I've read this book twice and experienced a deeper connection of the Hara each time. This is a most excellent book that deserves focused attention to read. A great exercise in grounding.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vital Book 7 April 2012
By S. Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading this book I backed up and began life again from my Hara. This is the clearest description and most passionate motivator I have read, to help you find, use and live from your Hara.
I wish I had found this treasure earlier in my life journey. I encourage all spiritual seekers to read and study this book as it will support any path you may have chosen.
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