The story goes something like this: Eugen Herrigel, a German teaching and living in Japan, set out to understand the meaning of Zen. Realizing it cannot be studied but only experienced, he decided to learn about it through the practice of one of the arts “touched” by Zen, Kyudo (Japanese archery). Out of his experiences came the book Zen in the Art of Archery.
This was one of the first book I read on the subject. Given the choices made by Herrigel later in life, it is unclear what he took away from these experiences.
As I understand it, talking about Zen has a tendency to confuse things. What makes this a worthwhile read is not the author’s interpretation of what Zen actually is (or is not) but rather the fact that it is one of the earliest books to expose the Western public to Zen. It spawned a century of speculation and countless books on the subject.
After reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra years ago, I felt that Nietzsche had been greatly misunderstood by some . In a few cases, the concept of the Übermensch or Super-human (Overhuman, Superman etc.) has been misappropriated to justify wickedness.
Recently I stumbled upon a video that provides a very simple interpretation of this idea.
Sooner or later everyone misses the rain. It just happens. You wake up one day alone in a strange town you’ve been living in for the past twenty years and are certain you don’t belong. The problem with the sun is that it makes it difficult to hide from others and yourself. I checked to see if the bag was still under the bed. It was. It wasn’t a dream. I pulled it out and stared at all that cash. It represented the dreams and aspirations of decent people I no longer cared for.
Clear skies. Waiting for darkness was not an option. I threw a few things on top of the money and headed out of town. Once the parking meters were no longer lining the sidewalk I knew I’d be in the clear, at least for a few hours. Rural America came up on me quick. I felt remorse for the smiles I had shared with the good people of the Clarkson Farmers Savings & Loans. It was only a matter of time before they would discover their colleague was a crook.
It didn’t take me long after getting my Chromebook from Amazon for around $300 to fall in love with it. In many ways, it felt like it represented the future of computing. A world where everything is in the clouds and hardware is only used to interpret information.
The Zen ‘everyday mind’ described as ‘sleeping when tired, eating when hungry’, or, in other words, knowing what one’s real needs are. Like a bamboo leaf, it bends lower and lower under the weight of the snow. Suddenly the snow slips to the ground without the leaf having stirred. The distinction between action and result disappears. The hands and feet are the brushes and the whole universe is the canvas on which the Zen mind depicts his life. The constant present moment.
(Extrapolated and rearranged from the works of Eugen Herrigel, Michael J. Gelb and Ryōkan Taigu.)
I took this photo while in Italy in June of 2015. It was shot on an iPhone 6. Believe it or not, it has not been digitally manipulated. These are the original colors of the iPhone camera. Impressive! The tallest peak in the distance is Monte Rosa (Mont Rose).
Perhaps you’ve heard the name before, Narita is Tokyo’s largest airport and if you’ve been to Japan, chances are you’ve landed there. To most, the little town of Narita is nothing but a blur flashing by the windows of the bullet train to Tokyo. Those brave enough to take a chance on this magical little place are in for a pleasant surprise.
Edokkozushi is a one-of-a-kind dining experience. This hole-in-the-wall is touted by the locals as “one of the best Sushi restaurants in Japan”. Finding this restaurant isn’t easy but well worth the effort. The best place to start is the Narita JR train station. Walk away from the station past the taxi loading zone and downhill toward the red wooden bridge. Take a sharp left onto an alleyway before you get to the bridge. Edokkozushi is half a block down on the right.