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Zen in the Art of Archery [Paperback]

Eugen Herrigel , Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 1999
An illuminating account of how to understand Zen through archery.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375705090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375705090
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 0.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 529,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
At first sight it must seem intolerably degrading for Zen-however the reader may understand this word-to be associated with anything so mundane as archery. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Zen 30 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Whether you are interested in exploring Zen as a discipline or driven by curiosity, this short book is definitely worth a read. Eugen Herrigel's journey through the apprenticeship of archery in Japan - years of hard - and often frustrating - practice, learning to "let go" and achieving absolute focus on the task by eliminating all "distracting" self-centered concerns - are at the same time inspiring by the huge potential it suggests we all bear in ourselves and demystifying thanks to Herrigel's sober account of his experience. The prior reviewer says it right: quite appropriately given its theme, the beauty of this book lies in is simplicity. This is very welcome for what is an often misused and mis-understood topic.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen In The Art Of Archery. 9 Nov 2010
Eugene Herrigel (1884-1955), studied Japanese archery (Kyujutsu-kyodo), in Japan during his time as a professor between 1924-1929. His teacher was named Awa Kenzo (1880-1939), himself a master of Heki-ryu Sekka-ha kyujutsu. This book started life as an essay written in 1936 by Herrigel, (in German), entitled 'The Chivalrous Art of Archery'. The essay was elaborated and extended in 1948, then becoming the classic book entitled 'Zen in the Art of Archery'. This is one of those rare books that has been written in the West, for a predominantly Western audience, that has been translated into Japanese and published in Japan as 'Yumi To Zen', or 'The Bow of Zen'.

The book has a Forward by DT Suzuki - the famous Zen commentator, and was translated into English by RFC Hull. The book is separated into eleven, short chapters. The content of the book is comprised of Herrigel's experience as a foreigner in pre-second world war Japan. Oddly, Herrigel makes no reference to the dramatic militarisation and modernisation of 1920's Japan, or indeed any reference to the Nazification of Germany. Instead, the book is written in an historical void. Considering the devastation of the times Herrigal lived through, this omission might well be deliberate and designed to focus the reader's attention firmly upon the subject at hand.

Herrigal, a professor in Philosophy, was well aware of Zen Buddhism, a Japanese interpretation of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism. This school originated in India and was known a Dhyana - both Ch'an and Zen are transliterations of this term, which may be defined as to 'meditate', and refer to the enlightened Mind, as well as the insight and wisdom such meditation can produce.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
To those who already practice Zen Buddhism, this book will seem awkward. To those nonpractitioners who would like to understand how to practice Zen Buddhism, this book will be a delightful enlightenment -- especially valuable to those who live outside of Asia. Eugen Herrigel takes on the almost impossible task of describing in writing something that has to be experienced to be understood, and is remarkably effective.
The author spent six years in Japan just after World War II, and decided that he wanted to understand Zen Buddhism. He was correctly advised that Zen needed to be experienced as the path to achieving that understanding. Several possible areas were suggested, from sword fighting to flower arrangement to archery. Because he had experience with rifle target shooting, the author chose archery. He was fortunate to be taken on by a Zen master who normally refused to teach Westerners, because they are so difficult to teach.
As a typical high-achieving Westerner, Mr. Herrigel wanted to make rapid progress and to achieve conscious competence in archery. His instructor wanted him to achieve unconscious competence based on experience and build from there into spiritual awareness. This conflict in perceptions created quite a tension for both of them. This tension was ironic, because the purpose of Zen practice is to achieve the ability to be strong like the flexible water. Tension is the enemy of that state of being.
Mr. Herrigel also learned from attending flower arranging classes from his wife, who was studying Zen in this way. He also benefited from finding some wonderful commentaries on sword fighting as a path to Zen that are included in this book. These are more eloquent than Mr. Herrigel, and he chose wisely in saving them for the end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic 1 Dec 2009
First published in 1953 this classic still is fresh and full of profound insights today. Earnestly wishing to understand Zen Herrigel with great difficulty manages to get accepted by an archery master in Japan and enters on a troublesome journey to acquire the art of archery. Exasperation and despair follow for two years and yet his determination not to give in to the humiliation of defeat pushes him on to continue unable at this stage to see that it is his very fear of failure that is standing in his way. A further three years of study and Herrigel succeeds in penetrating the essence of Zen.

This is a masterful book giving as it does an almost allegorical description, through his real life struggles with a martial art, of the true purpose that underlines the struggles that the acolyte goes through. The more the struggle to do well is present the less accomplishment comes and it is not until that egoic desire to achieve is relinquished that the perfection of the art is accomplished.

This short and easy read says more than some tomes on the subject of the relinquishment of the conditioned mind in favour of potential enlightenment which is the fundamental teaching of Zen Buddhism. Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement: An Introduction to the Spirit of the Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very satisfied with this book .prompt led livery and excellently item.
Published 7 hours ago by MRS K R Harvey
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 22 days ago by Nicholas Poole
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good product , arrived promptly
Published 1 month ago by Kanishka Samarasinghe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very interesting read , although a bit hard going in a few places
Published 2 months ago by Ian Chappell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read but too wordy
After an interlude, I decided to return to target sports and am looking to return to something like my previous standards. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Malcolm
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Felt the words and the meaning were lost in the dated text. I will put myself forward to re-live and re-write the guys trip to Japan. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Fat Surveyor
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with zen or archery
or well, only about these topics superficially.

It's a story about training, learning, the process, the growth.

Which happens to occur via learning archery. Read more
Published 7 months ago by L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Train your mind and body
Buy this book if you want to get into the zone.
It is particularly useful for anyone who is studying or practicing art!
Published 8 months ago by Trevor Dalton
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read.
Not your normal book, but if you are into Zen, meditation or similar self development processes then you may find this of interest. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ron Rosenfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, But in depth
I have been doing some serious studying around Archery and all aspects of the sport, as i was completing a level 1 archey coaching course,
This book will not teach you... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Chirron
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