Toxic Zen Story #19, part 2 of 2: Nuremberg Zen: D.T. Suzuki, Nazi Eugen Herrigel and Zen in the Art of Arch-Fakery: "It" Misses.
part 2 of 2, continued from part 1 of 2:
____ Background for Toxic Zen Stories _____________
Yamada discusses Herrigel's claims:
| 'Herrigel explained how his interest in Zen
| prompted his decision to travel to Japan as
| follows in Zen in the Art of Archery: '
| 'For some considerable time it has been no
| secret, even to us Europeans, that the
| Japanese arts go back for their inner form to
| a common root, namely Buddhism.... I do not
| mean Buddhism in the ordinary sense, nor am I
| concerned with the decidedly speculative form
| of Buddhism, which, because of its allegedly
| accessible literature, is the only one we know
| in Europe and even claim to understand. I mean
| Dhyana Buddhism, which is known in Japan as
| (HERRIGEL 1953, p. 21; 1956, pp. 44--45)'
| 'Today, I am sure that most people would
| object to the assertion that "all Japanese arts
| can be traced back to Zen." Herrigel acknowledged
| that his views on this matter resulted from the
| influence of D. T. Suzuki (1870--1966):'
Actually, I make this very case, myself (2 sections before this one), that the academics of Japan have a hard time discerning where influences in their culture come from, since those influences where mixed together long ago.
Does not a Japanese tea ceremony:
1. Have a still emptiness, like Zen?
2. Have a hypnotic ritualism, like Shingon (True Word)?
3. Have an ascetic discipline, like Ritsu (Precepts)?
4. Transform the room into a Pure Land where you cannot abide, with a perfect immortal who will become mortal, like Jodo (Pure Land Nembutsu)?
5. Epitomize the centralized control of formalism in Japanese culture, like (State) Shinto?
Yamada traces D.T. Suzuki's influence upon Herrigel's life:
| 'In his Essays in Zen Buddhism, D. T.
| Suzuki has succeeded in showing that Japanese
| culture and Zen are intimately connected and
| that Japanese art, the spiritual attitude of
| the samurai, the Japanese way of life, the
| moral, aesthetic and to a certain extent even
| the intellectual life of the Japanese owe
| their peculiarities to this background of Zen
| and cannot be properly understood by anybody
| not acquainted with it.
| (HERRIGEL 1953, pp. 22--23;
| 1982, pp. 16--17) (See footnote below.)'
| '[Footnote: Translator's Note: Yamada cites
| the Japanese translation of "Die ritterliche Kunst
| des Bogenschiessens" (The chivalrous art of
| archery, 1936; Japanese translation 1941, revised
| 1982). Since that work is not available in
| English, I have quoted the English-language
| translation of Zen in the Art of Archery, which
| contains an identical passage. Subsequent cases of
| this practice are not noted, but should be obvious
| from the publication dates of the works cited.
| Regarding D. T. Suzuki's influence on Herrigel, a
| footnote in the English-language translation of
| Zen in the Art of Archery (p. 22) gives the
| following publication dates for Suzuki's Essays in
| Zen Buddhism: First Series 1927, Second Series
| 1950, Third Series 1953. Actually, all three sets
| of essays were published in time for Herrigel to
| read them before writing his first account of
| Japanese archery. The dates of first publication
| were 1927, 1933, 1934.]'
Actually, Yamada worries too much here about dates in ascribing influence from D.T. Suzuki upon Herrigel.
D.T. Suzuki and Paul Carus were publishing essays, treatises and book on Buddhism and Zen from Open Court Publishing of LaSalle, Illinois, as early as 1894 and throughout the early 1900's. Paul Carus was German, so they came out in both German and English.
Without a single doubt, Herrigel got the influence to pursue his mysticism through Zen from none other than the Paul Carus-D.T. Suzuki heavily Westernized wing of the Shaku Soyen Rinzai Zen School, courtesy of Open Court Publishing at the Hegeler-Carus Mansion in LaSalle-Peru, Illinois.
Yamada sets the stage for Herrigel's mystical experiences with Awa:
| 'We can divine from the above passages that
| Herrigel, influenced by D. T. Suzuki and driven by
| his own "preoccupation with mysticism," tried as
| hard as he could to detect Zen elements within
| Japanese culture. Herrigel writes in more detail
| concerning his purpose in visiting Japan:'
| 'Why I set out to learn kyûjutsu and not
| something else requires some explanation.
| Already from the time I was a student I had
| assiduously researched mystical doctrine, that
| of Germany in particular. However, in doing
| so, I realized that I lacked something that
| would allow me to fully understand it. This
| was something of an ultimate nature, which
| seemed as though it would never come to appear
| to me and which I felt I would never be able
| to resolve. I felt as though I was standing
| before the final gate and yet had no key with
| which to open it. Thus, when I was asked
| whether I wanted to work for a space of
| several years at Tõhoku Imperial University, I
| accepted with joy the opportunity to know
| Japan and its admirable people. By so doing I
| had the hope of making contact with living
| Buddhism, and just the thought that by such
| contact I might perhaps come to understand in
| somewhat more detail the nature of that
| "detachment," which Meister Eckhart had so
| praised but yet had not shown the way to
| reach, made me very happy.
| (HERRIGEL 1982, pp. 23--24)'
| 'Here I would like to cite one episode that
| led Herrigel to passionately seek out Zen after he
| arrived in Japan. Early during his stay in Japan,
| while he was meeting with a Japanese colleague at
| a hotel, an earthquake occurred and many guests
| stampeded to the stairs and the elevators:'
| 'An earthquake---and a terrible earthquake
| a few years before was still fresh in
| everyone's memory. I too had jumped up in
| order to get out in the open. I wanted to tell
| the colleague with whom I had been talking to
| hurry up, when I noticed to my astonishment
| that he was sitting there unmoved, hands
| folded, eyes nearly closed, as though none of
| it concerned him. Not like someone who hangs
| back irresolutely, or who has not made up his
| mind, but like someone who, without fuss, was
| doing something ---or not-doing something---
| perfectly naturally....'
| 'A few days later I learned that this
| colleague was a Zen Buddhist, and I gathered
| that he must have put himself into a state of
| extreme concentration and thus become
| "unassailable." Although I had read about Zen
| before, and heard a few things about it, I had
| only the vaguest idea of the subject. The hope
| of penetrating into Zen---which had made my
| decision to go to Japan very much easier---
| changed, as a result of this dramatic
| experience, into the intention to start
| without further delay.
| (HERRIGEL 1960, pp. 1--3;
| quoted in ENOKI 1991, pp. 200--201)'
This reminds me of Alan Watts' first viewing of D.T. Suzuki, playing with a kitten. He also ascribes mystical qualities to Suzuki "... experiencing the Buddha nature of the kitten."
Sometimes playing with a kitten is just idle amusement.
And sometimes sitting quietly in an earthquake is just the fatalism of embracing the void: Emptiness encourages accepting the onrushing train.
Sycophantism is rife in the Buddhist world. That's why priests don't have to work for a living.
Yamada talks about Herrigel's naive selection of archery as a Zen pursuit:
| 'Herrigel discussed his desire to study Zen
| with a Japanese colleague. That colleague advised
| Herrigel, a foreigner without any Japanese
| language ability, that he should "first choose an
| artistic endeavor (geidõ) that has been
| particularly strongly influenced by Zen and, while
| you are practicing that, approach Zen at your
| leisure in a roundabout way" (ENOKI 1991, p. 202;
| cf. HERRIGEL 1953, pp. 31--32). Following that
| advice, Herrigel decided to learn kyûjutsu. To
| study kyûjutsu Herrigel sought instruction from
| Awa, who taught archery at Tõhoku Imperial
| University where Herrigel was employed. Herrigel
| chose kyûjutsu because he previously had practiced
| target shooting with firearms and he assumed that
| target shooting with a bow would prove to be
| similar. While there is no evidence that Herrigel
| ever actually practiced Zen during his stay in
| Japan, there exists a posthumous collection of
| Herrigel's essays entitled Der Zen-Weg (1958;
| translated into English as The Method of Zen,
| 1960). From these essays it is clear that Herrigel
| read extensively about Zen.'
One can presume that Herrigel selected archery, because he wouldn't have to be too physically challenged. Not an athlete.
Yamada relates Herrigel's selection of Awa as teacher:
| 'Herrigel relayed his request to be accepted
| as Awa's student through Komachiya Sõzõ (1893--
| 1979), a colleague (and eventually a professor of
| international law) at Tõhoku Imperial University.
| When Komachiya had studied at the Number Two
| College (which prepared students for Tõhoku
| Imperial University) he was enrolled in Awa's
| first kyûjutsu class. In 1924 both Herrigel and
| Komachiya became instructors in the Faculty of Law
| and Literature that had been established only the
| previous year. Sakurai states that "Komachiya
| simply met Awa again for the first time in twelve
| years. At that moment there was no way that he
| could have been aware of the development and
| changes in Awa's state of mind since their last
| meeting" (SAKURAI 1981, 285). Simply as a favor to
| his new colleague Komachiya acted as the go-
| between for Herrigel to become Awa's student.
| Looking back on the situation that prevailed at
| that time, in 1940 Komachiya wrote:'
| 'I think it was the spring of 1926.
| Herrigel came to me and said, "I want to study
| the bow (yumi). Please introduce me to
| instructor Awa." The bow is difficult to
| approach, even for Japanese. I wondered what
| had caused him to want to try his hand at it.
| When I asked him the reason, he replied: "It
| has been three years since I came to Japan. I
| have finally realized that there are many
| things in Japanese culture that should be
| studied. In particular, it appears to me that
| Buddhism, Zen most especially, has exerted a
| very strong influence on Japanese thought. I
| think that the most expedient way for me to
| get to know Zen is to study archery (kyudo)."
| (KOMACHIYA 1982, pp. 69--70)'
This has all the appearances of circular and self-fulfilling logic, since he knows nothing about the subject (except that to him, it looks like what he thinks Zen is). He knows what he will find already, because it is in his mind and will be uncovered there.
Yamada discusses the final joining of the two mystics:
. 'Awa, however, refused Herrigel's initial
. request. He said that he previously had a
. foreigner as a student and there had been some
| sort of problem. Komachiya subsequently prevailed
| upon Awa, who agreed to teach Herrigel on the
| condition that Komachiya take upon himself the
| responsibility of interpreting. Thus, Herrigel
| began taking lessons in archery from Awa once a
| week. While Herrigel struggled to understand
| kyûjutsu rationally, Awa responded to him with
| words that transcended logic. Taken by itself,
| this conversation between Western culture and
| Japanese culture is extremely interesting and is a
| major reason why Herrigel's book was such a great
| success from a literary point of view. At the same
| time, however, it is probably more appropriate to
| see Herrigel not so much as a logician but as a
| mystic who idolized Meister Eckhart.'
| 'Consider the characteristics of these two
| protagonists. There was Awa who was trying to make
| archery into a new religion and Herrigel who had
| no way of knowing about Awa's idiosyncratic
| nature. There was Herrigel who ceaselessly
| searched for Zen and Awa who by no means affirmed
| Zen. What were the conversations between these two
| men actually like? Without analyzing this issue it
| is impossible to properly evaluate Herrigel's
| account of his experiences. For the purposes of
| this analysis I will reexamine two of the most
| dramatic and inspiring mystical episodes redacted
| by Herrigel. I will cite the translations of both
| his first essay on Japanese archery, "Die
| ritterliche Kunst des Bogenschiessens" (The
| chivalrous art of archery, 1936), and of his
| later, expanded version that appeared as Zen in
| der Kunst des Bogenschiessens (Zen in the art of
| archery, 1948). First, I will reexamine Herrigel's
| account of "the target in darkness." (See footnote
| below.) Then, I will analyze Awa's doctrine of "It
| shoots," which Herrigel saw as the central pillar
| of Awa's doctrine.'
| '[Footnote: Translator's Note: "The target in
| darkness" (anchû no mato K_uí) is the title of the
| eighth chapter (pp. 96--110) of the Japanese-
| language edition (1956) of Zen in the Art of
| Archery. In the English-language translation
| (1953), which is divided into a different number
| of untitled chapters, it corresponds to pages 79--
So, the preconditions for the interaction of Herrigel and Awa are all set: Herrigel is a mystic in search of Zen in everything he sees ... he is a romantic in search of the "love of his life". Awa has a mystical experience to transmit mind-to-mind, and is in search of a temple to practice temple archery in, as a religion.
Yamada analyzes the story of the "target in darkness":
| 'The first incident, "the target in darkness,"
| concerns the following event. In his 1936 account
| Herrigel explained how he spent the first three
| years of his training under Awa shooting at a
| cylinder of tightly wrapped straw (makiwara) from
| a distance of about two meters. Then, after three
| years when he was permitted to shoot at a target
| on the archery range (which is twenty-eight meters
| long), his arrows did not reach the target no
| matter how many times he shot. Finally, Herrigel
| asked what he needed to do to hit the target. Awa
| told him, "Thinking about hitting the target is
| heresy. Do not aim at it." Herrigel could not
| accept this answer. He insisted that "If I do not
| aim at the target, I cannot hit it." At that
| point, Awa ordered Herrigel to come to the
| practice hall that evening. Herrigel explained
| what happened that night, as follows:'
| 'We entered the spacious practice hall
| adjacent to the master's house. The master lit
| a stick of incense, which was as long and thin
| as a knitting needle, and placed it in the
| sand in front of the target, which was
| approximately in the center of the target
| bank. We then went to the shooting area. Since
| the master was standing directly in the light,
| he was dazzlingly illuminated. The target,
| however, was in complete darkness. The single,
| faintly glowing point of the incense was so
| small it was practically impossible to make
| out the light it shed. The master had said not
| a word for some time. Silently he took up his
| bow and two arrows. He shot the first arrow.
| From the sound I knew it hit the target. The
| second arrow also made a sound as it hit the
| target. The master motioned to me to verify
| the condition of the two arrows that had been
| shot. The first arrow was cleanly lodged in
| the center of the target. The second arrow had
| struck the nock of the first one and split it
| in two. I brought the arrows back to the
| shooting area. The master looked at the arrows
| as if in deep thought and after a short while
| said the following...
| (HERRIGEL 1982, pp. 46--47;
| cf. HERRIGEL 1953, pp. 84--85)'
| 'At a practice hall in the dark of night, a
| master archer demonstrates before a solitary
| disciple. Facing a target that is practically
| invisible, the master shoots an arrow and hits the
| mark. Then, the master's second arrow strikes the
| nock of the arrow that is in the center of the
| target and splits it. Anyone would be moved by
| this story.'
It is important to remember that Awa was an extremely proficient bowman, high accurate with a honed and very repeatable style. In both cases he lines up in the same way with only the tiny point of light to focus on. This removes a lot of variation and error. But still the shot is an unfortunately perfect one .... which leads Herrigel down the evil path which he is seeking ....
Yamada makes the counter-argument:
| 'Nonetheless, so as not to be carried away by
| emotion and lose sight of the true nature of the
| matter, I attempted to verify the "rarity" of this
| occurrence by quantifiable means. It is unclear
| what Awa's rate of accuracy was at that time, but
| assuming that it was close to 100 percent, his
| hitting percentage would be a regular distribution
| of 99.7 percent, equal to what is called 3 sigma
| in statistical terms. I posited that the arrow was
| 8 millimeters in diameter and that it was shot
| into a standard target, which is 38 centimeters in
| diameter. Then, I used 100,000 computer
| simulations to find the probability of an archer
| with a 99.7 percent hitting average being able to
| hit the nock of the first arrow with his second
| arrow. These computer simulations yielded a 0.3
| percent probability of the second arrow hitting
| the nock of the first one. Even viewed from a
| statistical perspective, it can be said that the
| "target in darkness" incident was truly an
| unlikely occurrence.'
| 'One must also note that practitioners of
| kyûjutsu in Japan share the common understanding
| that shattering the nock of one's own arrow is a
| failure of which one should be ashamed, since the
| archer thereby damages his own equipment. The
| "target in darkness" event was by no means an
| achievement of which a kyûjutsu practitioner would
| boast. Herrigel wrote, "The master looked at the
| arrows as if in deep thought." Perhaps Awa was
| secretly thinking, "Blast! I have ruined one of my
| favorite arrows!" In fact, Awa did not speak of
| this episode to anyone except one of his most
| senior disciples. Is it possible that Awa did not
| want to divulge that he had shattered the nock of
| his arrow because he regarded it as something of
| which he should be ashamed?'
This might seem like purely opinion: an analysis on the part of Yamada.
Yamada goes further, to back that analysis up with good reporting, from Awa himself, through Anzawa:
| 'Regarding the "target in darkness" episode,
| in 1940 Komachiya gave the following testimony:
| "After reading Herrigel's  essay I asked Awa
| about this incident one day. Awa laughed and said,
| 'You know, sometimes really strange things happen.
| That was an a coincidence.'" (KOMACHIYA 1982, 99).
| Also, Anzawa Heijirõ (1888--1970), Awa's most
| senior disciple and the only person to whom Awa
| revealed this incident, said that Awa told him the
| following account of what happened:'
| 'On that occasion I performed a ceremonial
| shot (reisha). The first arrow hit the target,
| and the second arrow made a "crack" sound as
| though it had struck something. Herrigel went
| to retrieve the arrows, but after a long time
| he did not return. I called out, "Eugen! Oh,
| Eugen!" Then I said, "What is it? How come you
| do not answer?"'
| Then, well, there was Herrigel sitting
| down directly in front of the target. I went
| up to him like this. [Awa imitated someone
| walking nonchalantly.] I said, "What is the
| matter?" Herrigel was speechless, sitting
| rooted to the spot. Then, without removing the
| arrows from the target, he brought them
| Awa said, "No, that was just a
| coincidence! I had no special intention to
| demonstrate such a thing."
| (quoted in KOMACHIYA 1965)'
| 'These are the words that Awa used when
| speaking of this incident to Anzawa. They are
| extremely simple and easy to understand. In short,
| it was a coincidence. There is not even the
| minutest whiff of mysticism.'
At least not in Awa's intent. Herrigel's mind is fiercely seeking evil, and he finds it, influencing the outcome. His mysticism pulls the mystical out of Awa. At a deep level they are on the same wavelength.
Yamada relates Herrigel's differing account of the same occurrence:
| 'The words that Herrigel attributes to Awa,
| however, have a completely different ambience. In
| Herrigel's account, Awa supposedly said,'
| 'You probably think that since I have been
| practicing in this training hall for thirty
| years I must know where the target is even in
| the dark, so hitting the target in the center
| with the first shot was not a particularly
| great feat. If that was all, then perhaps what
| you think would be entirely true. But what do
| you make of the second shot? Since it did not
| come from me, it was not me who made the hit.
| Here, you must carefully consider: Is it
| possible to even aim in such darkness? Can you
| still maintain that you cannot hit the target
| without aiming? Well, let us stand in front of
| the target with the same attitude as when we
| bow before the Buddha.
| (HERRIGEL 1982, pp. 47--48; emphasis in the original)'
| 'These are extremely mysterious words, very
| difficult to understand. What, exactly, accounts
| for the discrepancy between the words that Awa
| used when speaking of this incident to Anzawa and
| the words that Awa used in Herrigel's quotation?
| This question hinges around the issue of
| translation and interpretation. Ordinarily, Awa's
| instructions to Herrigel were mediated through the
| interpreting provided by Komachiya. During the
| night of the "target in darkness" incident,
| however, Awa and Herrigel were alone. In 1940
| Komachiya testified as follows: '
| 'Herrigel's  essay describes an
| incident when, in pitch darkness, Awa lit a
| stick of incense, put it in front of the
| target, and shot two arrows, hitting the nock
| of the first arrow with the second. It also
| recounts what Awa said at the time. Since I
| was not there to act as a translator that
| evening, I think that Herrigel, relying on his
| own ability to interpret the Japanese
| language, understood all of that by means of
| "mind-to-mind transmission" (ishin denshin),
| as truly amazing as that is.
| (KOMACHIYA 1982, p. 98)'
Truth be told, what are transferred by ishin denshin are mostly the devilish function, confusion and distorted views.
We are faced with a decision on which to believe: the story of the teacher through the senior student of the same culture, or the story of the junior foreign student mixed with an extremely powerful tendency to romantic mysticism. Just on the face of it, Herrigel's account would strongly appear to be a total fabrication of the thoughts and words of his teacher. Once again, after leaving Japan and working at University in Erlangen, it would appear that distance would insulate the writer from fact-checking, at least during his lifetime. There appears, between this incident and the false Tokyo University claims of employment, to be an emerging pattern of faking the details to enhance the image and the message.
Yamada discusses the remarkable nature of the event:
| 'Today, we cannot know what sort of
| conversation, in what language, took place between
| Awa and Herrigel on that night. Nonetheless, it is
| easy to imagine that Awa, speaking a language that
| Herrigel did not understand, experienced great
| difficulty in explaining this coincidental
| occurrence. The coincidence of the second arrow
| hitting the nock of the first arrow produced a
| phenomenal space, an emptiness that needed to be
| given some kind of meaning. At that moment the
| lack of an interpreter was crucial. Since an
| extremely rare incident occurred, perhaps it was
| only natural for Herrigel to imbue it with some
| kind of mystical significance. His introducing the
| Buddha into this story, however, merely amplified
| its mysterious quality to no purpose.'
The causal view of this incident implies a purpose to it. The flow of events fed into Herrigel's view that something astounding was occurring. Which it was. This in no way implies that the astounding occurrence will lead to something good. Indeed, it leads to a great evil, perpetrated based on a hoax.
There are occult powers functioning when great evil is at work, and astonishing events can empower the person at the spear tip of evil's progress, deluding him into self-righteousness:
. "There Is Something Magical Happening Here,
. How Can It Be Bad?"
Blindly following occultism invariably leads to tragedy.
Yamada discusses Herrigel's language difficulties:
| 'Since my analysis of the doctrine of "It
| shoots" also involves issues with Herrigel's
| understanding of Awa's language, before going
| further I wish to discuss Komachiya's interpreting
| in more detail. As noted above, Komachiya always
| mediated between Herrigel and Awa in his role as
| interpreter. After Awa experienced his "great
| explosion," he fell into the habit of using many
| words that were difficult to understand. Komachiya
| offers the following reminiscence:'
| 'At every lesson Awa would explain that
| archery (kyudo) is not a matter of technique
| (jutsu) but is a means of religious training
| (shugyõ) and a method of attaining awakening
| (godõ). Indeed, like an improvisational poet,
| he would freely employ Zen-like adages at
| every turn. When he grew impatient, in an
| effort to get Herrigel to understand what he
| was saying, he would immediately draw various
| diagrams on the chalkboard that was hanging on
| the wall of the practice hall. One day, for
| instance, he drew a figure of a person
| standing on top of a circle in the act of
| drawing a bow and drew a line connecting the
| lower abdomen of the figure to the center of
| the circle. He explained that this figure,
| which represented Herrigel, must put his
| strength into his field of cinnabar (tanden;
| i.e., lower abdomen), enter the realm of no-
| self (muga), and become one (ittai) with the
| (KOMACHIYA 1982, pp. 86--87)'
| 'Regarding his own personal difficulties in
| understanding Awa's use of language, Sakurai
| wrote: "At first I struggled to understand due to
| the abstruse nature of Awa's instructions. I was
| able to grasp an outline of Awa's teachings and
| persevere at practice only because I relied on
| senior students to interpret his meaning for me."
| In reference to Awa's writings, Sakurai concluded
| that "Their logic is not rigorous, and long
| sentences, in particular, exhibit a lack of
| coherence" (SAKURAI 1981, pp. 6--7).'
So, how could Herrigel possibly understand Awa's intent, when his senior students, who were native to his language and culture, found him impenetrable? He couldn't and of course, didn't. What he came to understand, was a reflection of precisely what he came to find there, his own distorted view of Zen in the Art of Japanese Archery.
Yamada discusses Komachiya's admitted difficulties in translating for Herrigel, drawing the example of "the unmoved center":
| 'Apart from the difficulty inherent in Awa's
| manner of lecturing, there is at least one passage
| in Herrigel's account that suggests that
| Komachiya's translations were not always entirely
| appropriate. Herrigel wrote:'
| 'Thus, the foundation that actually
| supports Japanese archery is so infinitely
| deep that it could be called bottomless. To
| use an expression that is well understood
| among Japanese masters, when shooting a bow
| everything depends on the archer becoming "an
| unmoved center."
| (HERRIGEL 1982, p. 13; 1953, p. 20)'
| 'Contrary to what Herrigel asserts, teachers
| of Japanese archery do not understand what meaning
| he intended to convey by the words "an unmoved
| center" (unbewegte Mitte; Japanese, fudõ no
| chûshin. They do not use that expression to
| describe any specific moment in the sequence of
| shooting. (See footnote below.)'
| '[Footnote: I suspect that Komachiya selected
| the words "an unmoved center" to convey the
| concept normally represented in archery by the
| technical term kai (literally, "meeting"; see
| SHIBATA 1982a, 102). Kai refers to the state of
| being in full draw and applying continuous effort
| to the right and left to bring the opportunity for
| the release (hassha) to fruition.]'
Yamada cites Komachiya as being clearly overwhelmed by the task to translating from Awa to Herrigel:
| 'Komachiya explicitly acknowledged that his
| interpreting frequently distorted the meaning of
| Awa's abstruse language. Komachiya wrote:'
| 'For that matter, in those days, there
| were many occasions when Awa would say
| something that seemed to contradict what he
| had taught previously. At such times, I did
| not interpret for Herrigel but remained
| silent. When I did that, Herrigel would think
| it strange. He would insistently ask me about
| what Awa had just said, which left me feeling
| completely flummoxed. Even though I felt bad
| for doing so, I would say, "Oh, Awa is just
| extremely intent on his explanation, and he is
| repeating what he always says about putting an
| entire lifetime of exertion into each shot
| (issha zetsumei) and that all shots are holy
| (hyappatsu seisha), " and put a brave front on
| the situation. Essentially, as Awa expounded
| on the spirit (seishin) of archery, he would
| become spontaneously excited, and, wanting
| desperately to express his feelings, he would
| use various Zen terms. Without realizing it he
| would say mutually contradictory things. Even
| today I think that both Awa and Herrigel
| knowingly let me get away with my translation
| strategy of "sitting on and smothering"
| [difficult sentences].
| (KOMACHIYA 1982, pp. 87--88)'
| 'Komachiya, his offense in part motivated by
| conviction, covered up Awa's contradictory words
| and attempted to translate Awa's meaning instead.'
This is when an experienced translator backs away from an impossible situation, so as not to misconstrue the entire meaning of the dialogue. Komachiya cannot do this, for some reason, probably out of loyalty to Awa.
Yamada, having pointed out Komachiya's impossible task, proceeds to let him off the hook, out of a sense of misguided justice:
| 'It would be unjust, however, to unilaterally
| criticize Komachiya alone for any
| misunderstandings. Herrigel quotes one of Awa's
| lectures as follows:'
| 'If the target and I become one, this
| means that I and the Buddha become one. Then,
| if I and the Buddha become one, this means
| that the arrow is in the center of an unmoved
| center, which is both existent and
| nonexistent, and thus in the center of the
| target. The arrow is in the center. If we
| interpret this with our awakened
| consciousness, then we see that the arrow
| issues from the center and enters the center.
| For this reason, you must not aim at the
| target but aim at yourself. If you do this,
| you will hit you yourself, the Buddha, and the
| target all at once.
| (HERRIGEL 1982, p. 43)'
| 'Awa frequently expressed himself with cryptic
| words like these. If we put ourselves in the shoes
| of the interpreter who had to translate them, we
| can see that his free translation resulted from no
| malicious intent. '
| 'Komachiya was a man of sufficient ability to
| become a professor of international law at Tõhoku
| University. He interpreted as he did because of
| his inherent diplomatic sensibility and
Perhaps had Komachiya known his limitations better and expressed them, although this might have initially caused some dismay, the ultimate result would have been better.
Yamada discusses the development of Herrigel's main thesis: "It Shoots":
| 'Now, we can analyze the doctrine of "It
| shoots." In Herrigel's account this doctrine is
| introduced during a period when Herrigel had been
| unable to loose (i.e., release) the arrow
| skillfully no matter how many times he tried. He
| asked Awa for help, and the following dialogue
| 'One day I asked the Master, "How can the
| shot be loosed if 'I' do not do it?"
| " 'It' shoots," he replied....
| "And who or what is this 'It'?"
| "Once you have understood that you will
| have no further need of me. And if I tried to
| give you a clue at the cost of your own
| experience, I would be the worst of teachers
| and deserve to be sacked! So let's stop
| talking about it and go on practicing."
| (HERRIGEL 1953, p. 76; 1956, pp. 126--27)'
| 'Although troubled by this instruction,
| Herrigel continued his archery lessons. Then, one
| day when Herrigel loosed an arrow, Awa bowed
| courteously and broke off the practice. As
| Herrigel stared at Awa in bewilderment, Awa
| exclaimed, "Just then 'It' shot!" Herrigel was
| thrilled. He wrote, "And when I at last understood
| what he meant I couldn't suppress a sudden whoop
| of delight" (HERRIGEL 1953, p. 77; 1956, pp. 128--
Seems suspicious, considering the problems in communication between these two.
Yamada now describes his fundamental reservations regarding Herrigel's work:
| 'This dramatic event constitutes the central
| episode of Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery.
| Therefore, it should be evaluated very carefully.
| What, exactly, is meant by "It shoots"?'
| 'I have two reservations regarding this
| doctrine. First, there is no indication that Awa
| ever taught "It shoots" to any of his disciples
| other than Herrigel. Second, the phrase "It
| shoots" is nowhere to be found in Herrigel's 1936
| essay on Japanese archery, which served as the
| preliminary draft for the expanded account in his
| 1948 book, Zen in the Art of Archery.'
This second reservation turns out to be more murky than that. Yamada is depending upon a translation of Herrigel's work from the German back into Japanese (reversing Herrigel's original mistakes !!!). Yamada notes this in a footnote in an updated version of this paper:
| 'I can no longer assert that the notion "It
| shoots" is entirely absent from Herrigel's
| original 1936 essay. ... This notion abruptly
| appears in two passages without any attempt to
| explain its meaning or to attribute special
| significance to it. In 1936 Herrigel was aware of
| "It," but beyond two short clauses where he
| mentioned it in passing he did not discuss it.'
So Herrigel wrote down his errors in translation in 1936, and after a war and a dozen years had past, and the opportunity to gain fame after the war arose, Et Voila! ... he understood the meaning of "It". (Fame, renown, cash !!!)
Nevertheless, such processes can only be impugned by impugning motives and that would be, however suspicious the circumstances, fallacious logic: we cannot read minds. So we discard his second reservation and are left with the first one.
Yamada discusses the anomaly that there is no indication that Awa ever taught "It shoots" to any of his disciples other than Herrigel, the most junior and foreign disciple.
| 'The first reservation is based on a thorough
| reading of Sakurai's 1981 treatise, which with its
| extensive research constitutes the definitive
| account of Awa's life and teachings. In this work,
| the doctrine of "It shoots" appears only in
| relation to Herrigel. Concerning my second
| reservation, notice how Herrigel's two accounts of
| the "target in darkness" incident differ between
| his 1936 essay and his 1948 book. As noted
| previously, in his 1936 essay Herrigel quoted Awa
| as having said:'
| 'But what do you make of the second shot?
| Since it did not come from me, it was not me
| who made the hit. Here, you must carefully
| consider: Is it possible to even aim in such
| darkness? Can you still maintain that you
| cannot hit the target without aiming? Well,
| let us stand in front of the target with the
| same attitude as when we bow before the
| (HERRIGEL 1982, pp. 47--48; emphasis in the original) '
| 'In Herrigel's 1948 account in Zen in the Art
| of Archery, this quotation was changed to the
| 'But the second arrow which hit the first-
| --what do you make of that? I at any rate know
| that it is not "I" who must be given credit
| for this shot. "It" shot and "It" made the
| hit. Let us bow down to the goal as before the
| (HERRIGEL 1953, p. 85; 1956, pp. 141--42)'
Clearly Herrigel is rewriting history at this point, to enhance his case (and the book royalties). This is a smoking gun.
Yamada makes the case against Herrigel:
| 'In response to these two reservations, the
| following hypotheses can be suggested:
| '1. Herrigel fabricated the doctrine of
| "It shoots" when he wrote Zen in the Art of
| 2. Miscommunication occurred between Awa
| and Herrigel concerning "It shoots."'
| 'Let us examine the first hypothesis. If
| Herrigel created "It shoots," then he must have
| conceived of it during the twelve-year interval
| that separated his 1936 essay and his 1948 book.
| The first hypothesis can be countered by saying
| that the essay format did not allow Herrigel to
| discuss archery in any great depth and detail, or
| that Herrigel himself was unable to completely
| solidify his understanding of "It" at that time.
| Moreover, Herrigel declared in his foreword to Zen
| in the Art of Archery that "The narration in this
| book contains not a single word that was not said
| directly by my teacher. I have not used any
| metaphors or comparisons that he did not use"
| (HERRIGEL 1956, p. 37). (See footnote below.)
| Assuming that this declaration can be believed, I
| think that we can discard the first hypothesis. As
| I have already stated, however, Komachiya mediated
| between Awa and Herrigel in his role as
| interpreter, and I have doubts concerning the
| accuracy of his interpreting. These considerations
| lead me to conclude that the words Herrigel
| remembers are not the words that Awa actually
| spoke. That was not Herrigel's responsibility,
| '[Footnote: Translator's Note: Herrigel's
| foreword was not included in the 1953 English-
| language translation of Zen in the Art of
What's interesting here is the footnote that was in the 1948 version and was discarded in 1953 is the case for not being a charlatan. Removing that claim of honesty implies that it was too difficult to defend. This reeks of tabloid-pop writing.
Yamada outlines hypothesis 2:
| 'Now let us consider the second hypothesis.
| Concerning "It shoots" ('Es' geschossen; Japanese
| sore ga iru), NISHIO Kanji (1982, p. 32) points
| out that "We do not really know whether Awa
| actually said the Japanese word 'it' (sore) or
| whether Herrigel merely inserted the German-
| language third person pronoun for some Japanese
| words that were spoken to him. The German-language
| third person pronoun 'es,' which corresponds to
| 'it' (sore), is an impersonal pronoun that
| expresses something which transcends the self."
| Concerning this point, Feliks F. HOFF (1994), past
| President of the German Kyudo Federation, offers
| the hypothesis that 'Es' geschossen might have
| been used to translate the Japanese words sore
| deshita (that's it). In Japanese, when a student
| performs well, it is perfectly natural for the
| teacher to say, "that's it." It simply means "What
| you did just now was fine." Perhaps these Japanese
| words of approval were translated to Herrigel as
| Es geschossen. Feliks Hoff suggests that this
| allowed Herrigel to misinterpret the meaning of
| the original Japanese words along the lines of
| "something called 'it,' which transcends the self,
| 'While I support the thesis advanced by Feliks
| Hoff, I also believe that Herrigel must have
| anguished over the interpretation of "It." This
| anguish is suggested by the fact that it took
| twelve long years, even granting that a war
| intervened, before Herrigel was able to rewrite
| his initial 1936 essay on Japanese archery ... and
| publish it as Zen in the Art of Archery, which has
| "It" as its centerpiece.
What's really dubious about this, is when something of little significance in one version becomes the center of the universe in another.
Yamada clinches his point with an observation of Herrigel trapping himself:
This point is corroborated by the following statement, found in Herrigel's foreword to Zen in the Art of Archery:'
| 'Over the past ten years---which for me
| were ten years of unremitting training---I
| made greater inner progress and even more
| improvement than before. From this condition
| of greater completeness, I acquired the
| conviction that I was now capable of
| explaining the "mystical" central issues of
| kyudo, and thereupon resolved to present this
| new composition to the public.
| (HERRIGEL 1956, p. 36)'
| 'If the words that Awa cried out when Herrigel
| made a good shot were "that's it" (sore deshita)
| then they must have indicated a subjective
| "quality" that only a person accomplished in that
| art can understand. Judging from the context, the
| first time Awa praised Herrigel by saying "It
| shot" was when Herrigel was still practicing
| before the cylinder of straw (makiwara) and had
| not yet been allowed to shoot at a standard
| target. In other words, he had not yet advanced to
| the level of competency required for target
| shooting. It is utterly inconceivable that "It,"
| which indicates a spiritual condition sufficiently
| advanced to involve something that transcends the
| self, could have made its appearance at a time
| when Herrigel had not yet progressed beyond being
| a beginner. It is far more natural to conclude
| that Awa simply praised Herrigel by saying, "That
| was good."'
There we go. A beginner is dealing with beginner issues, not advanced issues. He is exposed in his own act of rewriting history badly, loss of continuity of storyline. He embellished the early straw-shooting storyline by adding the advanced "It" revelation from the latter part of the story. This is the purist kind of fantasy, with the unfortunate property of leading Zen believers down the garden path into hell.
This is the kind of thing that fetches one a perjury charge in front of a smart prosecutor.
Yamada describes Herrigel's initial misapprehension:
| 'Herrigel, however, came to the following
| conclusion regarding the nature of "It":'
| '...and just as we say in archery that
| "It" takes aim and hits, so here [speaking of
| Japanese swordsmanship] "It" takes the place
| of ego, availing itself of a facility and a
| dexterity which the ego only acquires by
| conscious effort. And here too "It" is only a
| name for something which can neither be
| understood nor laid hold of, and which only
| reveals itself to those who have experienced
| (HERRIGEL 1953, p. 104; 1956, p. 165)'
| 'Apparently "that's it" was mistakenly
| translated as "it shoots." Compounding this error,
| Herrigel understood "it" to indicate something
| that transcends the self. If that is what
| happened, then the doctrine of "It shoots" was
| born from the momentary slippage of meaning caused
| by the (mis-)translation of Japanese into German,
| which created an empty space that needed to be
| imbued with some kind of meaning.'
I think he is way too kind with Herrigel, who is clearly making up the story for effect, and that calls the entire account into question.
Yamada assesses Herrigel:
| 'In spite of the fact that Herrigel lived in
| Japan for six years, he remained to the end a
| credulous enthusiast who glorified Japanese
| culture. For instance, his writings include
| exaggerations, such as "Japanese people, every one
| of them, have at least one art that they practice
| all of their lives" (HERRIGEL 1982, p. 61), and
| misinformation, such as "Japanese archers have the
| advantage of being able to rely on an old and
| venerable tradition that has not once been
| interrupted regarding the use of the bow and
| arrow" (HERRIGEL 1982, p. 9; cf. HERRIGEL 1953, p.
| 95). (See footnote below.) ... '
| '[Footnote: As we have already seen, the use
| of the bow and arrow in Japanese archery differs
| depending on the objective, whether it is foot
| archery, equestrian archery, or temple archery;
| and the practice of equestrian archery died out
| for a period during the Muromachi period while the
| practice of temple archery has disappeared in
| modern times.'
It would appear from Herrigel's writing, that the farther he gets from the real experience in Japan, the more sweeping his generalizations appear to be.
Yamada makes his conclusions:
| 'The two mystical episodes that lie at the
| core of Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery
| constitute empty signs that emerged in the empty
| spaces created by a coincidental occurrence in
| "the target in darkness" episode and by the
| slippage of meaning in translating "It shoots."
| Roland Barthes (1915--1980) explained that this
| emptiness is the well-spring for the mythic
| function. The intentionality of individuals and
| the ideology of societies breathe meaning into
| these empty spaces, and through this process we
| generate our myths. In Zen in the Art of Archery,
| the individual intentions of Herrigel, who
| searched for Zen-like elements in Japanese archery,
| gave birth to a modern myth...'
| 'Soon after it appeared Zen in the Art of
| Archery, boosted by the widespread popularity of
| D. T. Suzuki at that time, became an international
| bestseller. Thus, the myth of Zen in the Art of
| Archery began its march around the world.
| Eventually, it reached back to its original source
| of inspiration. In 1953 D. T. Suzuki, who was then
| in his eighty-third year and who was impressed by
| Zen in the Art of Archery, traveled from New York
| to Germany to visit Herrigel, who was then in his
| sixty-ninth year. Herrigel related to Inatomi
| Eijirõ, one of the people who translated Zen in
| the Art of Archery into Japanese, that "Just the
| other day Professor Suzuki came to visit and we
| spent the entire day deep in conversation. It was
| most enjoyable" (quoted in INATOMI 1956, p. 15).'
This is one charlatan (Zen warrior Suzuki, who sidestepped responsibility after the war) having a chat with another charlatan (Nazi Herrigel, who did essentially the same thing). Yamada finishes:
| 'Zen in the Art of Archery continues to be a
| bestseller. The Japanese language version, Yumi to
| Zen (1956), which represents the culmination of a
| circular translation process that rendered Awa's
| original Japanese words into German and, then,
| from German back into Japanese, has altered Awa's
| words to such an extent that it is impossible to
| ascertain his original expressions. Yet, in spite
| of this fact, many Japanese rely on it to acquire
| a certain fixed interpretation of Japanese
| archery. Faced with this situation, I have
| attempted to present a new reading of Herrigel and
| associated documents from a different perspective
| so as to clarify the mythic function that creates
| our conception of what constitutes "Japanese-
| ness." At the same time, I have attempted to
| counter the tendency that has prevailed up until
| now to read Zen in the Art of Archery with little
| or no critical awareness.'
| 'This paper represents only a preliminary
| analysis of Zen in the Art of Archery. The next
| step must compare and contrast Herrigel's account
| with descriptions of Japanese archery written by
| other foreigners during the same period in order
| to bring to light the idiosyncratic nature of Zen
| in the Art of Archery and the peculiar way in
| which it has shaped foreign understanding of Japan
| and foreign interpretations of Japanese archery in
| particular. Moreover, it is necessary to
| reposition Herrigel's first essay on Japanese
| archery within the milieu of the Berlin of 1936
| when the storm of Nazism was raging. (See footnote
| below.) Finally, it will be necessary to trace the
| process by which the ideas in Zen in the Art of
| Archery, the revised version of Herrigel's 1936
| essay, were imported back into Japan and widely
| accepted, creating the illusion that the archery
| of Awa and Herrigel represented traditional
| Japanese archery. I hope to address these issues
| in the future.'
| '[Footnote: New Note for the English
| Translation: Previous scholars have pointed out
| that Herrigel was a Nazi sympathizer and
| participated in Nazi party activities on his
| return from Japan, but they have never discussed
| the Herrigel-Nazi relationship in detail. I
| recently discovered post-war documents concerning
| Herrigel's Nazi affiliation, the reasons for his
| inauguration as the rector of the University of
| Erlangen, and his general behavior at the end of
| World War II. I hope to publish an analysis and an
| English translation of these documents in the near
I am actively searching for the text of the 1935 inaugural speech of Herrigel at Erlangen University.
____ Epilog _______________________________________
The Buddha's highest teachings were the purpose of the Buddha's advent on this earth.
The Buddha did not appear on this earth to drain people's compassion with discussions of the emptiness and meaninglessness of life which is just a void.
The Buddha did not appear on this earth to teach people to live in such a narrow and momentary way, that there would be no context for self-examination and conscience.
The Buddha did not appear on this earth to possess people's minds with such illogic as to befuddle their ability to choose correctly between what is good and what is evil.
The Buddha did not appear on this earth to teach people how to commit atrocities and genocide, in the exploration of their "infinite possibilities", or "new states of being".
The Buddha did not appear on this earth to teach people how to maim and kill with their hands efficiently, quietly, loudly, with increased terror inflicted, or to maximize their subjugation to control the public sentiments for political ends.
These are all profoundly evil distortions of the Buddha's true teachings, which introduce infinities in the variables holding good and evil, removing all shades of gray in the propositional calculus of value.
Simply stated, the Buddha made his advent on this earth with the purpose of teaching the compassionate way of the bodhisattva, which is at the heart of the true entity of all phenomena, which is the eternal Buddha at one with the eternal Law. Which is how to navigate the sea of sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death. He originally set out on his path, because of his observation of the sufferings of common people and wanting to understand the source of those sufferings (enlightened wisdom) and how to transform those sufferings into unshakable happiness (enlightened action).
When you embrace the void and acausality, your initial intention to explore Being and essence doesn't matter ... the result is always the same: chaos and misery, and utter ruination and emptiness to you, your family, and your country.
But things don't have to be that way ...
Nichiren Daishonin writes (Encouragement to a Sick Person, WND p. 78):
. "During the Former and Middle Days of the Law, the
. five impurities began to appear, and in the Latter
. Day, they are rampant. They give rise to the great
. waves of a gale, which not only beat against the
. shore, but strike each other. The impurity of
. thought has been such that, as the Former and
. Middle Days of the Law gradually passed, people
. transmitted insignificant erroneous teachings
. while destroying the unfathomable correct
. teaching. It therefore appears that more people
. have fallen into the evil paths because of errors
. with respect to Buddhism than because of secular
Because Bodhidharma discarded the Buddha's highest teaching (the Lotus Sutra), and due to his lazy nature turned to shortcuts to enlightenment, he came to the distorted view that life is acausal and empty, that the true entity is the void.
This erroneous view really comes from a misunderstanding of the Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings, where the True Entity is described by negation (the only way it can be): "... neither square, nor round, neither short, nor long, ..."
The description of the True Entity is logically voidal, but the True Entity itself is not. Bodhidharma was simply confused, due to the slander of negligence (laziness), and false confidence. The truth of life is that at the heart of the True Entity is the compassion of a bodhisattva for others.
Non-substantiality does not mean empty. Life has value. Humans are respectworthy. There is a purpose to everything. And every cause has an effect, so we are responsible for our thoughts, words and deeds. Zen is acausal. Zen is the greatest poison, which compares to the even greater medicine of the Lotus Sutra.
Suffice it to say: the purpose of Zen in the world is to corrupt and undermine everything that is not based upon the truth and the true teaching. All religions, disciplines, institutions and organizations which are undermined by Zen will eventually fall after glaring revelation of their worst defects, sooner rather than later.
If there is some good in your family, locality, society and culture, or country that you would like to retain, then cease the Zen, and begin to apply the medicine of the Lotus Sutra to heal the Zen wound in your life.
"Zen is the work of devilish minds." - Nichiren
. a prescription for the poisoned ones:
. The only antidote for the toxic effects of Zen in your life ...
. be that from Zen meditation, or the variant forms: physical
. Zen in the martial arts, Qigong, Acupuncture, Falun Gong,
. Copenhagen Convention of Quantum Mechanics, EST,
. Landmark Education, Nazism, Bushido, the Jesuits,
. Al Qaeda, or merely from having the distorted view that life
. is acausal, and that the true entity of all phenomena
. is the void ...
. with the effects of the loss of loved ones, detachment,
. isolation or various forms of emptiness in your life ...
. is the Lotus Sutra: chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
. at least 3 times, twice a day, for the rest of your life,
. in at least a whisper ...
. and if you can, chant abundantly in a resonant voice !!!
. The full 28 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra,
. Nichiren Daishonin's Gosho volumes I and II,
. the Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings
. (Gosho Zenshu, including the Ongi Kuden) and the
. SGI Dictionary of Buddhism are located at:
. To find an SGI Community Center:
LS Chap. 16 .....
All harbor thoughts of yearning
and in their minds thirst to gaze at me.
When living beings have become truly faithful,
honest and upright, gentle in intent,
single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha
not hesitating even if it costs them their lives,
then I and the assembly of monks
appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.
At that time I tell the living beings
that I am always here, never entering extinction,
but that because of the power of an expedient means
at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not,
and that if there are living beings in other lands
who are reverent and sincere in their wish to believe,
then among them too
I will preach the unsurpassed Law.