The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master (The Way of the Warrior Series)
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The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master (The Way of the Warrior Series)

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  998 ratings  ·  48 reviews
This work suggests that the philosophy and competitive strategy presented by the spiritual mentor to Musashi is as useful to modern corporate warriors as it was to 17th-century samurai.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published March 1st 1988 by Kodansha America, Inc (first published October 13th 1986)
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Universally applicable statements are not instructive. They do not inspire thought or care, but enable the continuation of ignorance. A man may comment 'this is the worst review ever' (and in my experience, probably will), and achieve nothing more with by it than biting his own tongue. It is not applicable to any statement or idea, it does not continue any discussion, it is devoid of thought. It could be cut and pasted onto any review without gaining any meaning, and without shedding a single st...more
Great book, but difficult reading from a Westerner's perspective. Have to read parts of it several times before I understand what was being said (at surface level). This is a book to come back to at a later date when I have more experience.

One has to take into consideration that it was written by a Zen master to a sword master, two learned individuals. I am way below the experience level of the target audience.

The book is nothing about sword fighting. It is about clearing your mind, and returnin...more
Zen Budizmi ve savas sanatlari arasindaki zaman zaman urkutucu iliskiy en iyi sekilde anlatan kitaplardan biri Engellenemeyen Zihin. Gunumuzde Zen bariscil bir new age antin kuntini gibi algilaniyor cogunlukla malum L.Cohen bile cikti ya manastira... Halbuki bu ve bunun gibi bir baska muazzam klasik, Yukio Mishima'nin Sun and Steel'i aslinda Zen Budizminin son derece fasizan bir altyapisi oldugunu ve bu yonde kolaylikla kullanilabileceginin bir ornegi. Tabi bu Zen'i fasist yapmiyor sadece praxis...more
A good translation of Takuan Soho's classic text on Buddhism. The book was written to bring understanding of "No Mind" to the samurai warrior. It's rather dense, and assumes familiarity with Zen Buddhism.

Chances are you're interested in this because you a) read about it in a Japanese history/culture book, or b) you heard this referenced in a Japanese work of fiction, whether anime, literature, or film. It assumes a high amount of understanding of the context and does little to lead you through...more
Haru Kiyoka
The Unfettered Mind is deceptively simple. It takes years of study to unravel it's true depth. This is because it's a collection of personal communications from one master to another, at the peak of their given practices. There is a lot the book doesn't explain because it didn't need to be explained in a dialog between these two men.

So it wasn't written as an introduction to Bushido or Zazen or as instruction for the layperson.

This book is more useful as practical mental instruction for someon...more
Jul 18, 2007 Finbar rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: budoka
I've been wanting to read this book for a while and I am glad I did. This selection of essays makes the tie between Zen meditation and the practice of the martial arts. It is a beautiful exploration of the spiritual side of budo and a must-read for anyone who practices its principles.
Dec 03, 2008 Doc rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I consider this to be essential reading. For everyone. The concepts can be a bit dense, but it's well worth the effort. Combined with A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and The Art of War by Sun Tzu, this is part of a set that I frequently give to people.
Jul 23, 2009 H added it
Shelves: martial
A frequent reread. Practical and spiritual advice from the most renowned Zen master of feudal Japan.
This book is a collection of three short works by a 17th century Abbot from northern Japan. Each of these works is different: the first is a discussion of the right mind required for both enlightenment and perfection of the craft of sword combat, the second is a discussion on the proper mindset for both political ruler and citizen (perhaps you could call it a Machiavellian essay for Easterners), and the final portion of the book is a discussion on some old poetry.

The first part I found incredib...more
The Unfettered Mind, a scant 100 page document written by a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman about the importance of right mindedness. Soho most likely couldn’t have envisioned his treatise would be poured over after some 400 years had past. Yet, it has been since first writing it. Westerners have devoured his work just as much as Easterners.

A quick search for the Unfettered Mind will net the potential reader many possibilities from different translations as well as many reviews. I do not have...more
Michael Roy
Being a (lapsed, due to injury) martial artist myself,I've always had a fascination for how the Japanese, in particular, apply many of the philosophies associated with Zen Buddhism to the martial arts - and in particular kenjutsu (swordsmanship).
This book is the classic of the genre, written by Buddhist monk Takuan Sōhō in the early 17th Century, friend and contemporary of Emperors, daimyos, shoguns, and the famous master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. It is essentially a treatise comprising three...more
Sep 10, 2007 Genocide rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Great book.. So beautiful

Buat temen2 yang pernah baca "Musashi" karangan Eiji Yoshikawa, pasti bisa tau siapa Takuan Soho. Kalo ada yang belum tau, gw kasih tau deh, he.. Beliau seorang pendeta Zen yang sangat terkenal pada masanya. Beliau seolah "angin" yang bebas bergerak dari setiap golongan di jepang. Karya-karyanya banyak mempengaruhi pola pikir dan penerapan ilmu pedang para samurai dan daimyo (tuan tanah) buku ini berisi filsafat zen, rada-rada ke agama Budha juga. Tapi mengajarkan meng...more
Aug 25, 2007 Nash rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Martial artists and those interested in mind training.
Shelves: already-read
This is a translation of a 400 year-old book by a very cultured Zen monk, Takuan Soho, who was the contemporary with the likes of Miyamoto Musashi and another great swordman Yagyu Munenori who was then the sword teacher of the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun. If you have been to a mindfulness meditation retreat before, you'll be surprised at some timeless discovery of the mind you share with the monk and other people who have walked the same path before you.
Rahmat Romadon
Buku ini berisi refleksi pemikiran yg hrs dimiliki bagi semua pebeladiri, khususnya ahli pedang. Untuk memiliki pemikiran yg tidak terbelenggu memang tdk semudah yg dibayangkan, hrs diiringi oleh latihan & pemahaman yg sgt mendalam. Tp saat membaca buku ini kita akan mendapat perspektif lain dlm menekuni seni beladiri yg kita tekuni. So bener kata J. Krishnamurti : " is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free."
Matt Kelland
Once, I would have found this book profound and inspiring. Now, I find it superficial. Statements such as "the right-thinking man will do right without thinking" don't really say much. The writer is a huge proponent of acting without thinking - instinct is all very well when you're in a sword fight, but it's not really a way to live the rest of your life. Consideration, reflection, and decision are all important.
Three challenging essays of quite different elements and perspectives, yet on related themes. Each worthy of deep meditation in its own right.

A curiously timely find for myself, as I had just written something which required more depth of understanding to convey fully. This helped as a text to quote, but also as an insight to build upon my humble foundational piece.
Amazing and beautiful collection of letters describing Zen practice to soldiers. The metaphors alone in this collection are worth reading the book. Takuan is very skilled with language and skillful means of bringing the ideas of Buddhism across in a persuasive way to the Samurai warrior he is writing to. Some suspect it is Musashi, but it's not known who the correspondent is.
Farah SA
Jujur, saya agak sulit memahami isi buku ini. Mungkin, karena saya tidak terlalu familiar dengan ajaran Zen.

"Jika kita mengamati fenomena dengan cermat, tidak bisa dikatakan bahwa segala sesuatu yang terletak di antara langit dan bumi adalah benar-benar berbeda. Jika kita melihat perbedaanya, hal itu dikarenakan sempitnya pandangan kita." (p.63)
Great book with a myriad of analogies that can carry you forth in your daily life as well as lessons for practitioners of martial arts.
The only thing is I found some of the analogies repetitive. But leave it to a Zen master to have 1000 sayings all to make a single point.
I'll definitely have this on hand for future reference.

Very interesting parallels/contrast between the two individuals in this piece - it was enlightening because it precipitated in my mind the tensions between a warrior's heart and monk's heart..given that I am drawn to more contemplative life and also have the heart of a loyal Kokondo-ka, I could relate very well to these conversations.
Be as quick as its reflection, be swift to reach out when the clouds yield, be calm as the water, perceive the first sword, the first touch of the foot on the water, see the waves and keep your sword quiescent. Feel everything and hold nothing, be empty but never passive, never falling back.

Be the scrolls.
Martyn Halm
I have many philosophical works on martial arts, but The Unfettered Mind is the book I re-read most often. As I'm profiscient in Japanese swordmanship, I found I could use these insights in a practical sense as well. This book should be in every serious martial artist's library.
Obi Okorougo
It is a great short read. Poetic. Perfect for martial artists or practitioners of Buddhism or even one interested in spiritual text. It's like reading the Tao Te Ching. You'll highlight, stop, think, and begin reading again. Recommend.
Barry Coker
One of Bruce Lee's favorite books on the philosophy of combat. It explains in great detail how to empty the mind of obstructions so that we are able to view our reality as it is and relate to it as it changes.
This is one of the absolute must-haves for martial artists and Zen practitioners. It has so many layers and points to absorb that you could spend a lifetime re-reading it and still have things to learn.
Jul 15, 2008 Graham added it
A bit spiritual: I couldn't get into this book. I preferred the philosophy of Hagakure and the practicality of the Book of 5 Rings. This is pretty spiritual and worth deeper analysis, but not by me.
Reuben Rail
Great analogies in this one as to how the mind can operate. If you are not familiar with Eastern styles of writing, it may come across a little weird, but it is definitely a good read.
Ismael Galvan
I read this book several years ago. I found it very enlightening. Though I cannot remember the book in any specific way, the memory of it is centered on peace and harmony.
This is a very insightful book that requires multiple reads to even begin to understand many of the complex philosophical points.
The Zen perspective on swordplay and proof that swordsmanship's inherent difficulties are timeless.
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