A few years ago, a friend recommended Zen in the Art of Archery to me. I bought it quite awhile ago, but until this past spring, it was sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. This spring I read it, and apparently it then sat in the back of my mind without review collecting proverbial dust.
An inspiring review right there, to be sure.
While the book was interesting enough to read, it was not especially captivating in any manner beyond a cute personal narrative.
The book's primary purpose is to tell the story of the author's journey to become a Zen master through the art of archery. In doing so, it seeks to explain the philosophy of Zen, namely that through mastery of an art to such a degree that it can be done without conscious thought (thus becoming "artless") one transcends the material world and frees one's mind to reach higher states of consciousness.
Most of the book is the author making mistakes and being too conscious of his own actions and his master rebuking him with cute riddles and analogies. These are thought provoking, certainly, but in no way convincing of the "truth" of the religion.
The most impressive feat along these lines is an example of the master hitting a target dead center in a darkened practice room. Certainly inspiring, but this would seem more an impressive example of muscle memory and familiarity with one's own practice area than any transcendental physicality.
Rather, that (and the rest of the book) would only seem compelling to those already lacking an inherent skepticism or any critical thought. Indeed, the author at one point goes so far as to mention that it's only convincing if you already believe. Echoes of the Christian motto that you have to open your heart. It was a fun read and a good introduction to the religion, but fails to be anything more.