Zen in the Art of Archery
|Zen in the Art of Archery|
|Cover artist||Joseph del Gaudio|
|1948 (Germany), 1953 (United States), 1955 (Japan)|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|Pages||90 pp (1953 edition, paperback)|
Herrigel (1884–1955) was a German professor of philosophy, with a special interest in mysticism. From 1924 to 1929 he taught philosophy in Japan, and studied Kyūdō (the art of the Japanese bow) under a master named Awa Kenzô. Awa taught kyūdō in a way that was regarded by some as a mystical religion, called Daishadokyo. Daishadokyo was an approach to kyūdō that placed great emphasis on the spiritual aspect and differed from much of the mainstream practice at the time. In 1936, Herrigel wrote a 20-page essay about his experiences, and then in 1948 expanded the essay into a short book. The book was translated into English in 1953 and Japanese in 1955.
The book sets forth theories about motor learning and control that provide lessons for learning any sport or physical activity. For example, a central idea in the book is that through years of practice, a physical activity becomes effortless both mentally and physically, as if the body executes complex and difficult movements without conscious control from the mind.
Herrigel describes Zen in archery as follows:
- "(...) The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull's-eye which confronts him. This state of unconscious is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art (...)"
The title "Zen in the Art of Archery" may have inspired a series of similar, but fundamentally different titles. Indeed, more than 200 books now have similar titles, including Robert Pirsig's 1974 widely popular book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing, as well as "Zen and the Art of Poker,", "Zen and the Art of Knitting", and Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating, and so on. J.D. Salinger's fictional character "Seymour Glass" applied one aspect of Zen archery—aiming by deliberately not taking aim—to playing the children's game of marbles. The wider theme is usually that doing an ordinary task, such as fixing a motorcycle, can have a spiritual dimension.
- "The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 2001, 28/1-2. Retrieved October 2013.
- Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery ISBN 0-679-72297-1.
- O'Brein, Liam. "Zen in the Art of Archery - A practitioner's View", full-text PDF
- Stevens, John, Zen Bow, Zen Arrow: The Life and Teachings of Awa Kenzo, The Archery Master From Zen in the Art of Archery. Shambhala 2007.
- Zen in the Art of Archery - Book Review at the Open Critic