Yoshizen's Blog

Archery Contest — Zen ? ? ?

There is an annual Archery Contest in a Japanese Buddhists Temple = Sanjyu-sangen-do, Kyoto. (If you are interested in its details, please google > Toshi-ya, Sanjyu-sangen-do ) (the Viz here is the Female Archer’s day’)

What I want to talk about here is not about its history or meaning, but the way how Japanese Archery / Kyu-do was done.

From the Viz here, you must be realised that the Japanese Kyu-do mount the Arrow outside of the Bow, and not aiming the Arrow while watching its direction from the back. Unlike a western archery, cross-bow, or a riful gun there is no “sight” to aim the target. The eyes, the head of archer is the other side. So, you might be wondering how the archer could aim the Arrow to the target ?

Training is to train the body function, its power and the coordination to higher level. —– In the case of Karate, (say, hit an opponent by a fist) the movement and the control is rather simple as it is the matter of the hand’s movement. Though, if it involve a weapon, the coordination has to become a bit more complicated as the movement became indirect. — still, like cutting a lemon, the body (hand) need to keep the knife steady and make its movement constant, while involving rather small number of the muscles, while having the straight feedback of the each movement through the eyes. (On this “cutting lemon” arrangement, even a direction of the knife blade could be changed while the blade is in the middle of lemon.)

Though, the Japanese Kyu-do’s control is incredibly indirect. Certainly the Archer is seeing the target and stand towards the target though, we can not see any further details of the control, how minute adjustment of the angle was transelated into the arm’s muscle or body position etc.

In this field, a book [ZEN in the ART of ARCHERY] by Eugen Herrigel has almost historical significance. (—– though, as the Kyu-do has no mechanical system of the “Control”, neither Zen use the verbal communication to explain how, the book wouldn’t give you any answer how the arrow could hit the tail of the first arrow. But only hinting something spiritual made the arrow to fly.)

In Zen term, it is the state of the Ichijo = Body and the Mind, the Bow and the Arrow, the target, and even the air all became one by abandoning all those. In Buddhists term, it was absorbed by Dharma. = By abandoning all the aim or thought to hit, obtaining the natural control of the Dharma = this paradox IS the core of the Zen Buddhism.

In This extent, the Book by Eugen Herrigel was a very rare and important guide book to learn the Zen. To learn the Zen, an innocent, naive man could not able to learn anything by sitting. Because there wouldn’t be any explanation of Zen let alone what the sitting for. Yet still, that book explain, how to negate the own Ego by exactry follow and copy the way to do the Kyu-do. And the way to abondan even the intention to hit = to become the Void oneself. (The book was written by the outsider = not by Zen monk, hence the trade secret has been exposed ! ) So, the reader could able to learn the mechanism of the Zen.

However, if it was looked at more demystified angle, the control of the Kyu-do might be somewhat similar to the Skiing. Control of the ski board couldn’t be done by just the legs but needs to have all the coordination of the whole body, on top of the snow condition and the topography, even the weather. Then the certain aim or a mind goes to the ski, yet still, we are not skiing while thinking how to ski. There may not be a kind of “The Mind of Ski” —– it could be empty. But, without having any thinking of control, if the aim was goes left, the ski goes left. There may not be any mythical control behind still, in the certain level of advanced skill, whole control of ski or Kyu-do could be done in the almost God’s hand level. —– This advancement could be achieved also under the Zen approach, still, make it thankful to the mythical Dharma or just a physical advancement would be a matter of one’s belief.

—– So, it was the same situation, when I was making aluminium sculpture “Buddha 2009” I needed to find the aluminium pipes for the material, then I found a lots of discarded pipes from a construction site = its always like this happen on me. (What I’m doing synchronise with Dharma —– or they help me) .

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