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) .


Being Natural or Be Artful Perfection — Which is Zen ?

Mug cup-A09A1703

—— Left Mug is the one I’m using now.  Right is the one I brought from Japan 33 years ago

and served me till 1992 and since it got hole on the bottom, it became a pen stand  🙂

Once, my tea drinking was a kind of Art = as I’ve been drinking 1.5 ~ 2 liters

(3 ~ 4 pints) of tea everyday, to make it, was not just a daily routine, it was

a refined flow of the action.

To begin with, the way to put a water into a kettle ~ ~ ~ to pour the tea into a cup then

drop one or two slices of the lemon etc etc.

As all the actions has been repeated everyday (I don’t know how many thousands times

I did ) naturally each action has been rationalized to the most efficient smooth manner.

So that, once a person who observed this process summed up, “It’s formalized to the

almost tea ceremony like process isn’t it”. Of cause, it was not intended to be a ceremony

but just doing it in quickest and smoothest way. As it is always the same action, it has

no dither or need any thinking, let alone any emotion.

May be this is the way what Master Dogen (道元 / Founder of the Soto-Zen)

has taught = to become perfect to be “who I am and what I’m doing”.

(= Nobody else.  Nothing else = this is what Mindfulness meant !)


Sound so far so good isn’t it ?   But wait a moment —– ?

To be “WHO I am” = the very one who has been born under own Karma, hence grown-up

according to the occurrences given next by next.

The result is the only one, “me” = To be my own is nothing but to be Natural

(but not necessary perfect), still, “to be perfect” mean the person has to be

refined to be pure = eliminate all the imperfection and the foreign substance

(imported idea or pretense).

This is quite an artful existence isn’t it ? ? ?


Making and drinking my tea, I’ve refined its process to the art level though, one-day in

the last Summer, I couldn’t bother to make a tea as I was too thirsty, instead

I just filled my cup with a tap-water and a slice of lemon. ————

Since then, I stop to make a tea but just drink a tap-water. (I don’t buy any bottled drink).

—- Am I lost an art and the mindfulness, while becoming lazy ?

OR, was that an Enlightenment ? —– Good, good question 🙂

To drink a water instead of tea —– It is obvious, which is simpler and natural.


Tea-making started in the Rinzai Zen temple as Master Yousai (栄西) brought it from China.

Hence, Tea-making is a part of Zen teachings. In comparison, Soto Zen tend to remain much

humble and simple. ( = So that, I’m a simple poor man 😀 )

Therefore, isn’t it to drink water instead of Tea, is more Soto Zen ?

Not lazy isn’t it ?


My answer is = I don’t care. As long as something to sip in the cup, it’s enough.

(with its consequence to drink 2 litres of water and going to a toilet every 2 hours =

flushing out any toxins in the body = no need to have doctor or any medicine

—– it may be true :-))

As I don’t need to bother buying tea any more, this is even more peaceful Life and the Mind.

(and cost less 😀 ) —– After all, I don’t think I was born for tea making.

This is my Zen as I’m nobody else of simple yoshizen 😀


In fact, here lies very interesting question.

The ideal early Buddhists were the one who forsaken all the ordinary life to

pursuit Enlightenment, namely Bhikku and Arakhan though, the Buddhism

took the direction to more inclusive Mahayana = while living in the ordinary

life, still maintaining the Mind-set to be a Buddhist = more Natural life style.

My position is, the matter is not a superficial life style but the Mind-set since

the  Mind-set such as Mushin, Ichijo, Mindfulness , Selflessness are naturally

in our subconsciousness, in other words Natural Life-style is not a hindrance

to achieve its refinement, ultimately to reach Enlightenment.

(By the way, me doing something utterly useless, is for fun = Do something on

the hand and creating something new with good laugh is better than just

being passive, such as watching TV or Inter-netting.  😀 )



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