Zen in Archery
Zen can be defined as being at peace while living in the moment. It is not about reaching into the past or wondering about the future. It is about the present: The here and now. Zen, sometimes known as Dhyana Buddhism, is a school of Mahayana Buddhism and was developed during the 6th Century C.E. Zen encourages people to break the cycle of conventional thought by using meditation and experiencing life in the moment. In this book, Herrigel learned to achieve Zen through the means of viewing archery as a spiritual practice and letting go of his self in that area. The physical discipline and focus led him to understand the true meaning of Zen. Awareness, present-moment focus, detachment, and patience are a few of the Zen principles that have influenced the art of archery. One principle in Herrigel’s archery that appears to be encouraged by Zen is that of awareness. By being aware of oneself and preserving conscious awareness of what is in the present, one is on a path to understanding Zen. The following passage discusses that the archer must be aware of himself so much so, that he becomes the heart for the art of archery in that moment: “…It is necessary for the hitter to become, in spite of himself, an unmoved center” (Herrigel 5). It appears that once all parts of the present moment are made known to those who are a part of it, things that once were only known to have one meaning, but now have infinitely more. The idea of being completely centered in on the present moment is an important and obvious Zen principle. By being tuned into sights, sounds, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations, one can be aware of the present moment. This principle encompasses the last because it requires one to prioritize the awareness of the present moment. A great example from the book is when the master is showing the students the bows for the first time. He drew back the string of a specific bow. Herrigel writes, “This produces a sharp crack mingled with a...
Cited: Herrigel, Eugen, and R. F. C. Hull. Zen in the Art of Archery. New York, NY: Pantheon,
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