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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen as it is in doing, 21 April 2007
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This review is from: Zen in the Art of Archery: Training the Mind and Body to Become One (Arkana) (Paperback)
The task Professor Herrigel set himself was to experience true Zen, he did this without realising that abandonment of self was a primary objective. In other words the practice or the decision to undertake anything very much is a step into the unknown even when the person involved never considers the possibility of his very self undergoing radical change, somehow one believes "I" will always remain afterwards. Little by little Herrigel underwent powerful changes in his Zen experience which literally must be undertaken in an authentic way i.e. by the sort of practice having no limits or bounds, a wholehearted approach somewhat alien to most westerners. The book is an honest and clear account of his experience in Japan and is somewhat akin to that of Jan Whilhelm van de Wetering in "The Empty Mirror", humourous experiences such as when the master wishes to find out more about what he does and in this way try to understand why the practice of archery is so difficult for him : exclaiming after he reads a philosophy book that "no wonder you have so much difficulty", adds to the humanity of the story. Although a small book it is rich in personal experience and a treasure which can be read again and again to revitalise one's own practice. It is also far more readable than his other books which are full of difficult philosophical concepts and lack the depth of humanity shown in this one. The book stresses what must be said again and again, Zen is about doing rather than knowing (in the conventional sense) and Herrigel realises that only in the practice of Zen, rather than just reading about it, can it be truly "known". He also demonstrates the great challenges to be faced in this practice especially as regards the conflicts which arise between the "artless art", Zen, which is free of thought and that of his profession which is never free of the constricting domain of thought. A superb book which never fails to inspire.
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Location: Manchester, Lancashire, UK

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