Eugen Herrigel, a German professor of Philosophy in Tokyo, took up the study of archery as a step toward an understanding of Zen Buddhism. This book is the account of the six years he spent as a student of one of Japan’s great kyudo (archery) masters, and of how he gradually overcame his initial inhibitions and began to feel his way toward new truths and ways of seeing.
I have played the piano for thirty-five years and taught it for over twenty. I have written a book on teaching piano that is in the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts. The ideas and examples in this book, along with my mentor, helped me achieve breakthroughs in music when many other methods failed. In a way, I owe much of my teaching success to this book.
To those who already practice Zen Buddhism, this book will seem awkward. To those nonpractitioners who would like to understand how to practice Zen Buddhism, this book will be a delightful enlightenment -- especially valuable to those who live outside of Asia. Eugen Herrigel takes on the almost impossible task of describing in writing something that has to be experienced to be understood, and is remarkably effective.
If one desires to pursue the path of enlightenment under Zen, one must select as a vehicle one of the Zen arts - archery, swordsmanship, brush-and-ink, the tea ceremony or flower arranging. Eugen (pronounced OI-gen) chronicles his struggle to overcome his "much too willful will" and master the bow. This interesting story is very moving, educational and inspiring, while never becoming heavy as it easily could have under less skillful authorship.