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Zen in the Art of Archery

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,793 Ratings  ·  305 Reviews
This intriguing, influential work of literature—an outstanding way to experience Zen—is now available on cd
It is almost impossible to understand Zen by studying it as you would other intellectual pursuits. The best way to understand Zen is, simply, to Zen. This is what author Eugen Herrigel allows us to do by sharing his own fascinating journey toward a comprehension of th
Paperback, 81 pages
Published February 12th 1971 by Vintage (first published 1948)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Riku Sayuj
May 30, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rithu Soumyaj, Rohini Nair, Soumya Sayujya
Shelves: spiritual, r-r-rs
Are we all such helpless and inexperienced beginners with not the slightest clue on how to correct our aims or on to draw our bowstrings right?

This supposedly uplifting book has depressed me amidst its poetry and beauty into a realization that I will probably never 'correct my own stance' or 'let the arrow fall at the moment of highest tension', effortlessly hit any goal or even realize what the real goal is...

Why is there no art in life anymore? Isn't it all that should exist? Can we please ba
Mar 22, 2009 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
A painless book to read. I'm just not into the Zen thing. Reading this book made me realize that I never will be this type of person, I couldn't go through with the ssssssslllllllooooooooowwwwwwwww process of learning each step of something to perfection. I'm sure I'd be a better person if I could just be in this way, but I never will, just like I will never be an Astronaut or a Fireman, and that's okey dokey because the world needs anxiously high-strung neurotic people just as much as they need ...more
In the 1920s Eugene Herrigel, a university professor of philosophy, took up archery in Japan as a way to get closer to an understanding of Zen. Zen in the Art of Archery, published in 1948, is his entertaining account of the process of learning archery.

The relationship between archery and Zen that Herrigel presents can be criticised on at least three grounds: his archery teachers relationship to Zen, the problem of translation - Herrigel's Japanese was very limited, his translator struggled with
Erik Graff
Feb 03, 2014 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zen fans
Recommended to Erik by: many people
Shelves: religion
Many persons had recommended this little book over the years of high school and college, it being one of the canon of the counterculture like the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, the meditations of Alan Watts or the more scholarly essays of D.T. Suzuki. I resisted, partly because it was so popular, another herd-phenomenon, and partly because it was about archery of all things. But, seeing the thing and how short it was, I finally sat down and read the thing.

I'd read quite a bit about Zen Buddhism by thi
May 23, 2013 Juan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since my early college days the abstraction apparatus known as western culture seemed to me a useful but essentially flawed way of understanding our place in the world. Zen, when I first met it, seemed to validate Rimbauds "derrangement of the senses" and Blake's "path of excess" procedures. It gave a method, albeit a strange, incomprehensible one, to mysticism propounded by western artists. It would seem from Herrigel's book, that there is no one path to Zen and the absolute: archery will ...more
I was surprised that I enjoyed this book fairly well. My dad -- who believes that I am an incorrigible materialist, simply because he has wacky pseudo-scientific ideas about quantum mechanics that I am constantly forced to rebut -- sneaked this into my bag when I left after Christmas vacation. But I was having trouble finding something to read last night and I picked it up and was done before I knew it.

It's really not as much la-la and hand-waving as I anticipated. I did cringe every time Herri
Adrian Colesberry
Jul 08, 2009 Adrian Colesberry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book either immediately before or immediately after Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I liked this book very much. The concept of relaxed attention was interesting to me. I remember that for the whole semester after reading this, I would hold books and papers and bags with the minimal amount of force needed to keep them from falling out of my hands, just like the archer should hold the bowstring with the minimal amount of force, waiting for the moment of effortless release.
Jul 30, 2011 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SUM: Eugen Herrigel recounts his interesting experience training under a zen archery master in Japan. As a western man, Herrigel encounters problems with the process of archery, and his journey toward zen is framed in a perspective that a western audience can appreciate and understand.

REV: I absolutely love this book. I draw connections, of course, with my own pursuit of writing as an art-form. For anyone remotely creatively-inclined, this book is a must-read. Some of the things that Herrigel qu
Feb 09, 2011 Marshall rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Martial artists and Zen students
A short and simple book about how Zen masters practice archery, and a memoir of the author's archery training in Japan. Become one with the bow, let the arrow shoot itself, that sort of thing. It's interesting to read a book about Zen when it was still very new in the West. It reminded me of An Experiment in Mindfulness. This may sound cheesy, but it also reminded me of the jedi in Star Wars. Probably the most intriguing part in this book is when the archery teacher shoots a perfect bulls-eye in ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-nonfiction
I've read books like this before, most of them for a class I think. Most never range more than 100 pages but they never fail to send my brain round in circles trying to really comprehend what I just read. Some bits are more clear than others, I will say, but there are plenty of passages I end up reading more than once.

I won't even attempt to give a description of what Zen is. Like Zen itself, my understanding of it is both there and not there, I can't verbalize it or write it but it exists to m
Mandy Jo
This week’s headline? it happens automagically

Why this book? sold on Amazon

Which book format? from campus bookstore

Primary reading environment? quickly, before shipping

Any preconceived notions? struggling to breathe

Identify most with? someday, the author

Three little words? “experience can teach”

Goes well with? the tea ceremony

I’ve been selling off my personal library through Amazon.

At one point, I had over 500 books in my house – procured mostly through employee discounts at four different books
Jan 16, 2012 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction
This is a fascinating book and a quick read, so I can recommend it without hesitation. Some parts might be slightly difficult language because of the translation (from German I believe) but push past it, it's mostly very clearly and succinctly written.

The book follows the author's introduction to Zen, through the practice of the art of archery, but most importantly it presents Zen in a transition from Western to Eastern thinking. Initially the author does a great job of framing the Western point
Dec 18, 2013 Stu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
About halfway through Zen in the Art of Archery, I became confused. Herrigel's conception of Zen as a practice where one loses oneself and gains mastery of a specific art through surrender seemed at odds with the other Zen works I had studied, most of which emphasized mindfulness as opposed to the habituation that Herrigel endorsed. I did some addition investigation (which in the 2013 means consulting Wikipedia) and found a fine article by Yamada Shoji that contextualized Herrigel's experience i ...more
Mark Valentine
Mar 18, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though this short study of zen--[scratch that]--Even though this short study of archery--[scratch that too because it becomes difficult to name--]

Even though this short study of the relationship between thought and action, between subject and object, between exertion and idleness, between inhaling and exhaling focuses almost entirely upon archery as a metaphor of zen Buddhism, it can still be read as a testament to faith, knowledge, sanity, perception, effort, achievement, peace, discipline
Annette Abbott
Mar 10, 2011 Annette Abbott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Whenever I take on a new task or start studying something new, I find that this is my "go to" book. More than Zen, it is a book about how being slow and disciplined allows one to master technique. It was assigned to me first as a textbook for art class. The idea is not to just pick up paints/charcoal/pencil and draw, but to become the the art so that it grows out of one's Unconscious.

You dont have to be a student of kyudo to get this book. It's applications as many as there are things in one's
Ken Kavanagh
May 26, 2016 Ken Kavanagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long before (or long after?) Luke met Yoga, Herrigel met his zen master in Japan...a clean and simple book, much like its message.
Lachlan Jones
Dec 09, 2012 Lachlan Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A philosophy professor struggles to understand the tenets of Zen while undergoing traditional instruction on Kyudo (Japanese archery). Herrigel writes of his frustrations and slow progress with admirable honesty, wit and respect which eventually allows him to experience insights he did not expect.
The translation is in rather an old-fashioned English but this adds to its charm, and the sometimes puzzling advice of the Master will resonate with engaged readers long afterwards.
A short book which c
Rosie Nguyễn
Apr 17, 2014 Rosie Nguyễn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was difficult for me to read it at first, since the writing style is somehow not easy to follow. But I started to enjoy more and more coming to the later chapters, especially from chapter 8. Deep ideas, fundamentals of archery, flower arrangement, painting, swordsmanship, or any other art. It is consciousness, breathing and artless art. It is not to overcome opponent but to overcome ourselves. It is to practise mindfulness and attain peace of mind when doing art. It is to apply that art into ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Enri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo bel libretto del l'Adelphi me lo vedo girare tra i non letti da parecchi anni. E il segnalibro è sempre chissà perché infilato tra due delle prime pagine. Oggi l'ho attaccato. L'argomento trattato, lo Zen, mi affascina, come tutte le protoreligioni, dai Veda in poi. In queste lontanissime eredità, di cui lo zen e le pratiche ad esso connesse ne sono arcieri e bersagli al tempo stesso, si trovano, per chi le scopre, domande e risposte, movimento e quiete, un movimento o un'espressione dove ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Dymphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone intersted in the ideas behind Zen Archery
Recommended to Dymphy by: Everyone in the Zen Achery field
When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me about her literature list, which included a small book of less than a hundred pages about a small mouse. Everyone put that book on their list - and afterwards, most people regretted it because it's story dealt with a mouse in, according to their opinion, was a complex and a non-understandable way.

When I read this book (albeit, in Dutch), especially the introduction, I thought back on the story of the book with the mouse. I didn't expect it.
Craig Evans
I originally read this as part of a class assignment in college. I do not remember what course it was but am thinking "Group Dynamics" as a sociology/psychology elective.
Although I don't specifically remember what or if I "got anything out of it" the name of this short book has stayed with me for 30 years.
While it is a quick, easy read there are some aspects of what the author is saying that need to be re-read with slightly differing cadences and emphases to the structure of the statements in or
Anthony Buckley
This is a stupendous book. It is the original, and very best of the "Zen and the Art of - - - " books. An astonishing account of the relationship between a German would-be archer and his Japanese teacher. I cannot possibly explain it. Just go out and buy a copy. It's easy to read. Nevertheless, read it several times! It is an inspiration.

"Zen," said (I think) Basho, "is doing things properly". Here is a well-written book about "doing things properly".
Ame Mahoney
Feb 06, 2011 Ame Mahoney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People may complain that this isn't what Kyudo or Zen archery is like, but I don't care. I LOVE this book. I recently took up archery because I wanted a quiet, spiritual persuit. This book helps me focus on what I really want out of life - not just hitting a target. While I don't do Kyudo, I can still take many of the lessons from this book to apply to my regular practice, as well as many other aspects of my life. I will be re-reading this book again and again.
Nov 19, 2015 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took about three hours of slightly broken up reading to time to read. Slightly broken up reading because I'm not very good at reading. It's more of an extended essay than a book really.

Written in 1953, the Herrigel engages the subject matter refreshingly. Refreshing because it seems starkly obvious that quite a lot has happened since 1953. Like western re - appropriations in popular culture of very distant fields. You know, like self - help and all that kind of toshy bollocks.

If it's
Jul 05, 2008 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
A very quick read. As part of my preparation for kyudo study I grabbed this book. I can't vouch for its accuracy as I ought to listen to my sensei first and foremost, but Herrigel provides an interesting discussion of zen as it relates to kyudo. However, the interpretation of his six years of study may not be accurate, according to some scholars. I'll update my review once I read one particular critical article.
Jan 18, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, philosophy
While this is a fascinating account of studying kyudo (Way of the Bow) and Zen, it should be noted that some kyudoists are rather critical of the disproportionate influence that this book has had on kyudo philosophy. Apparently the intertwining of Zen and kyudo has no historical basis outside of Awa-sensei's (Herrigel's teacher) own teachings, who was considered an eccentric by his peers.
Jan 08, 2014 Aswin.P.J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Frijitof Capra says in his book The Tao of Physics, this may be one of the best books written about Zen because it does not speak about Zen at all. A wonderfully written book.
Mar 12, 2011 Guy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: multiple-reads
My most given away book! Whenever I find a copy in a used book store, I buy it and when the 'right' person comes round to receive a copy, I give it.
Finished re-reading again 2011.03.10, and find myself once again concentrating on breath and relaxed attentiveness.
Dec 07, 2013 Mag rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mag by: Cristina
A very interesting and enlightening little book on the essence of the spiritual experience in Zen Buddhism.
A German philosophy professor goes to Japan for six years and practises Zen through archery. The book is a summary of his experience.
Amy Edwards
One of my all-time favorite books! A beautiful description of teaching in a true mentor-style. Written by a German philosopher, it is one of the more accessible (understandable) books on Eastern Zen. Packed with jewels of wisdom!
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Can't wait 1 30 Dec 17, 2007 05:03PM  
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“Don't think of what you have to do, don't consider how to carry it out!" he exclaimed. "The shot will only go smoothly when it takes the archer himself by surprise.” 10 likes
“And what impels him to repeat this process at every single lesson, and, with the same remorseless insistence, to make his pupils copy it without the least alteration? He sticks to this traditional custom because he knows from experience that the preparations for working put him simultaneously in the right frame of mind for creating. The meditative repose in which he performs them gives him that vital loosening and equability of all his powers, that collectedness and presence of mind, without which no right work can be done.” 1 likes
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