Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: Zen in the Art of Archery

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.

1 comment:

stuart said...

Wow! I just read the greatest atheist manifesto ever written. Seriously. It's called the Real Messiah:

I was turned on to the book by Robert Price. It's written by a Jewish writer who found proof in a number of ancient sources that Jesus never claimed to be the messiah. It was all made up by later Christians in Rome to distract from the truth that threatened to overtake the whole Empire.

You see there was this Jewish king named Marcus Julius Agrippa. He was the St. Mark who wrote the gospel. He wrote the gospel secretly to have Jesus announce HIM as the messiah. Then the Roman authorities caught wind of what was going on and then cut Agrippa out of the gospel.

Don't you see!!! It's all a big lie - even the biggest lie in history. Jesus never claimed to be what all these people now say he was. They have been fooled by a second century editorial effort that still goes undetected.

How is Huller so sure of this conspiracy? He found an ancient throne in Venice which Italian sailors stole from the most ancient Church of St. Mark in Alexandria in the ninth century. The author proves that the throne goes back much further than that - i.e. all the way to the beginning of Christianity in Egypt.

In any event the throne has Hebrew letters and symbols which prove the real story of Christianity and how the modern Church is one big fake. The throne is real. Here are pictures of the throne:

You can look it up with Google. It's a real object. But now the game is up. Christianity is proved to be a big lie and the world will never be the same again. It's so great to be on the winning side at last! I've got to tell everyone.

All I got to say is that you got to read this book. This is the straw that breaks the back of the Church.