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Zen in the Art of Archery Paperback – 1 Feb 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375705090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375705090
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,309,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki was Japan's foremost authority on Zen Buddhism, and the author of over 100 works on the subject. He was trained as a Buddhist disciple in the great Zen monastery at Kamakura. From 1897 to 1908 he worked in the United States as an editor and translator, and later became a lecturer at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1950, at 80, he returned to the United States and spent most of the decade teaching, lecturing, and writing, particularly at Columbia and Harvard. Returning to Japan, he died in Tokyo in 1966 at the age of 95.
Christopher Reed has been teaching Buddhism and Buddhist meditation for 15 years. He received transmission as a Dharma teacher from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. He has been influenced by the tradition of socially/politically engaged Buddhism, and works toward the integration of traditional Buddhist teaching with the demands of everyday life. He is co-founder and director of the Ordinary Dharma Meditation Center in Los Angeles and the Manzanita Village Retreat Center in San Diego.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
The previous reviews sum it up pretty well - I have been interested in buddism for some time, however not read much about zen itself. This is a beautiful, inspiring book which makes the reader want to book their ticket to Japan right now, and find the Master. What a contrast to western ways of thinking this provides - a true insight into the eastern mindset, and into the nature of zen itself. I have been inspired to take out several books on zen from the library as a consequence.
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Format: Paperback
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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