Zen in the Art of Archery Essay

Zen in the Art of Archery Essay

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Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel describes the ritualistic arts of discipline and focus that the Zen religion focuses around. In this book, Herrigel describes many aspects of how archery is, in fact, not a sport, but an art form, and is very spiritual to those in the east. The process he describes shows how he overcame his initial inhibitions and began to look toward new ways of seeing and understanding. In the beginning of the book Herrigel tells us that he is writing about a ritual and religious practice, “whose aim consists in hitting a spiritual goal, so that fundamentally the marksman aims at himself and may even succeed in hitting himself.” (Herrigel p. 4) Through his studies, the author discovers that within the Zen ritual actions, archery in this case, there lies a deeper meaning. Herrigel explains throughout this book that it is not through the actual physical aspect of shooting arrows at targets that archery is Zen, but through the art and spirituality through which it is performed. It is not merely shooting an arrow to hit a target, but becoming the target yourself and then, in turn, hitting yourself spiritually. By meeting this spiritual goal, you will then meet the physical goal. The struggle then is, therefore not with the arrow or the target but within oneself.
Archery, in this book, was the way that the author found his way into Zen Buddhism. One of the most important lessons that Herrigel’s master taught him was, to correctly master the art of ar...

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