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The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman [Paperback]

Takuan Soho
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 17.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 Sep 2012
This classic samurai-era text fused Japanese swordsmanship with Zen and influenced the direction that the art has taken ever since. Written by the seventeenth-century Zen master Takuan Soho (1573–1645), The Unfettered Mind is a book of advice on swordsmanship and the cultivation of right mind and intention. It was written as a guide for the samurai Yagyu Munenori, who was a great swordsman and rival to the legendary Miyamoto Musashi.

Takuan was a giant in the history of Zen; he was also a gardener, calligrapher, poet, author, adviser to samurai and shoguns, and a pivotal figure in Zen painting. He was known for his brilliance and acerbic wit. In these succinct and pointed essays, Takuan is concerned primarily with understanding and refining the mind—both generally and when faced with conflict. The Unfettered Mind was a major influence on the classic manifestos on swordsmanship that came after it, including Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings and Yagyu Munenori's Life-Giving Sword.

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Frequently Bought Together

The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman + The Book of Five Rings: A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword (incl. "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War") + The Art of Peace (Shambhala Pocket Classics)
Price For All Three: 29.90

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; Reprint edition (17 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590309863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590309865
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review


"All of the essays aim at helping the individual know himself and in helping him to embrace the art of life." -The Japan Times


"Takuan's writing is light on sword-handling and heavy on the spiritual side." -Asahi Evening News


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author


TAKUAN SOHO (1573-1645) was a prelate of the Rinzai Sect of Zen, well remembered for his strength of character and acerbic wit; and he was also gardener, poet, tea master, prolific author and a pivotal figure in Zen painting and calligraphy. His religious training began at the age of ten. He entered the Rinzai sect at the age of fourteen and was appointed abbot of the Daitokuji, a major Zen temple in Kyoto, at the age of thirty-five. After a disagreement on ecclesiastical appointments with the second Tokugawa shogun, he was banished in 1629 to a far northern province. Coming under a general amnesty on the death of the shogun, he returned to society three years later to be, among other things, a confidant of the third Tokugawa shogun.
WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON, the translator, was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan.
After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan.
Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include TheBook of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog.
Wilson currently lives in Miami, Florida.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The term ignorance means the absence of enlightenment. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different angle 10 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback
I have read allot of these types of books, I find them very hard going at times. What I get out of them is a view into a different world, sometimes they barely seem human but in-between they give a philosophical output that borders the superhuman.
I feel allot gets lost in translation and there is a vast cultural gap that is way out of time. If you put in the effort you will find lots to muse over and compare. The theory of "no mind" is the central aspect of this way of thinking that shows a very natural height that can be recognized and more actively sought after. Something about the writing makes the essence timeless.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By ShiDaDao Ph.D TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The translater - William Scott Wilson - is an American scholar widely recognised as the foremost expert on Japanese samurai literature, the Bushido Code and the Edo Period of imperial Japan. His translations are reliable, retain original meaning and are easily accessible to the general reader. This book is about the application of Zen Buddhist meditation to the activity of the use of the Japanese sword. The writings contained within this book date to 16th and 17th century Japan, and are spiritually motivated on all the many levels of nuance. The original Japanese work was written by Rinzai Zen monk Takuan Soho (1573-1645).

The paperback (1987) edition contains 101 numbered pages and consists of a Foreword, an Introduction, a Notes section and a Bibliography. This book is comprised of three essays written by Takuan Soho:

Foreword.
Introduction.
The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom - (Letter to master Yagyu Munenori).
The Clear Sound of Jewels - (Advice on knowing 'right' from 'selfishness').
Annals of the Sword Taia - (Letter to either Munenori or Ono Tadaaki).
Notes.
Bibliography.

Wilson provides the English translation for the Japanese text known as Nihon no Zen Goroku Zenshu, Vol 13, which gathered its information from the Takuan Osho Zenshu. These two letters and one instructional text offer advice about sword technique, mind development, self-transcendence, duty, psychology of combat and spiritual growth, the avoidance of selfishness, the cultivation of wisdom, correct dying for a warrior, and compassion. The sword is inbued with divine power within Japanese traditional culture. Takuan was a very well thought of Zen monk in Japan, who became an abbot of a temple in Kyoto at just 35 years old!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Translation 7 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
This book contains a collection of three letters/essays from Takuan Soho to masters of the sword arts. They contain some incredible gems. This book should not just be read; but reflected upon.As another reviwer said, "The ideas of the interval between striking flint and steel to the production of the spark, or the visual and mental image of the glint of light on the blade of a sword become captivating and even revelatory." I could not have said it any better myself. This is a must read book.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Takuan Soho's insight into the mechanics of the mind and its effects on performance, is much more than a manual for the martial artist. To sum up the first essay simply as saying "practice makes perfect" shows the ignorance Soho addresses in the first line of the first essay.
The three essays requires contemplation and an appreciation of its context. It is a useful companion to anyone who sees the usefulness of constant striving to improve one's Self, "We are that which we habitually do...", and a reminder to all faiths that humanity requires a moral code.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very deep book 13 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This books offers an insight into the unique mindset of the Japanese Samurai during an era when one was not simply expected to master the sword but to also master his own self.
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