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) .


Pok’s ZEN

Ten days ago I received an invitation to a private view of an art exhibition from a man whom I don’t know at all.

I was quite puzzled, how come ? ? ?    (since my Email address is not public)

Exhibition was a contemporary art in context of dairy practice in Zen Buddhist’s culture —- What ?

Before go down to the puzzle of Zen art, I guessed that somebody my friend who knows of my Zen blog

might have suggested him to send an Email to me.

Any how, it’s best to see a man and ask.


So, I took a journey to the exhibition and met a young artist, Chong-Boon Pok.

Obviously he is a Chinese but turned out to be from Malaysia and living in here about 10 years.

And he is a kind of [native] Zen Buddhist, who doesn’t need to know what the Zen is or its

history etc,  but as he was grown up in its environment he is naturally doing it.

(even unaware of why —– it’s in his subconscious)

—– As he was saying in his Press release;

“ My studio practice operates within subjects, time and space using the everyday and engages

aspects of mindfulness,self, memories, social, cultural and symbolic form. My cultural upbringing and

life experiences are often revisited, examined and evidenced in my work.

The work embraces ideas of as-it-is-ness, nothingness, the impermanent nature of things, and the

interconnectedness of objects and people, all of which are relevant to Zen Buddhist discourses of everyday.”


And what he is showing are — in his words;

“ Devoting attentiveness to and contemplating the everyday is central to my art practice.

The everyday that I refer to is the trivial, ordinary and inconsequential objects and activities that

people tend to take for granted such as the cutlery we use for eating, something we are so familiar

with that we are less likely to give a second thought when we encountered them. Besides

assembling everyday objects into sculptural forms and installations, part of my work involves

using food and cooking to perform and interact with people visiting my exhibition.”


Like a round piece in the photo above ( can be enlarged with click on the photo) it was made out of

drink-can’s pull-ring —– thousand of them. So as the other pieces, they are made out of really

ordinary objects —– but with the thousands of repeated works.

Some may think, it might have done by dreadful swet-shop like endless work or even it might have done by

the hired worker —– wrong.   It was all done by the artist himself.

And some may think, it is a kind of play devoting to the God —– wrong again.

Except the first few line of the work where the artist needed to find the best adjustment, following work

all through up to the finishing line, it was done almost automatic = just the repeating movement of the fingers.

There was nothing else in his mind = so-called Mindfulness, though, in fact, there was nothing.

Hence Mind of No-Mind = the true reflection of the Nothingness of the existence.

—– in deed, those repeating work is the Buddhist’s practice = by which the one can reach to

the state of Mushin (Mind of No-Mind ).


But we shouldn’t forget, that the Practice is just the practice to get the state of the mind, Mushin.

Mushin itself is not a goal. It is just a state of the mind.   What is the goal ? —– Life, that’s all.

But the Life without unnecessary worries or useless delusions hence without pitfall.

What else anyone needs to have ?

More than handful of gold ? Or surrounded by 100 of virgins ? —— ? ? ? What to do with those virgins ?

Do you want to be a rapist or dirty old man ? —– in fact, all those dirty idea negates the goodness or virtue of

the Mushine, since it against the Rules of the Dharma.

One’s life is to make other life happier.   This is what all about the meaning of the Life.

( Running big company employing thousands of staffs and selling the products all over the world

—– in effects, supporting those who working for him, and appreciated by the people who bought the products,

in the same time, making money and able to supports his own family —– this is the Life.

(well, billions of variations there)


So, unmistakably,  the artist,  Pok succeeded in this task —– by his work in Mushin, made

the people smile and made their eyes open “ A, Ha ~ ~ ~”  and making people feel Happy.

He should be rewarded by the Dharma.


His exhibition [ Contemplating the Everyday ] continues until 8th July, 11am~5pm

@ Central House Building / Metropolitan University —– Near Oldgate East Station , London

(it is opposite of the Whitechapel Gallery / Habib Bank on the corner / entrance is over the Bank office)

—– < www.thegroundweshare.co.uk.blogspot.com >

It’s worthwhile to pay a visit  🙂


%d bloggers like this: