Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki on mastery of an art

"River Zen" (1999)

"River Zen" (1999).
Image credit: The World Zen Fellowship

One of the most significant features we notice in the practice of archery, and in fact of all the arts as they are studied in Japan and probably also in other Far Eastern countries, is that they are not intended for utilitarian purposes only or for purely aesthetic enjoyments, but are meant to train the mind; indeed, to bring it into contact with the ultimate reality. Archery is, therefore, not practised solely for hitting the target; the swordsman does not wield the sword just for the sake of outdoing his opponent; the dancer does not dance just to perform certain rhythmical movements of the body. The mind has first to be attuned to the Unconscious.

If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an ‘artless art’ growing out of the Unconscious.

In the case of archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but are one reality. The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull’s-eye which confronts him. This state of unconsciousness is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art.
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (also transliterated as Daisetz; often abbreviated D. T.) in his introduction (Ipswich, Massachusetts: May 1953) to Eugen Herrigel‘s Zen in the Art of Archery, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), p. 5. First published as Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschie├čens, (Konstanz Weller, 1948). First English translation from the German by R.F.C. Hull (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953).

Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki Posted on behalf of on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 under Quotations.

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