In Zen monasteries they teach the seekers only one secret, and the secret is: do something without bringing the ‘I’ into it. If you can do something without bringing the ego into it, everything will happen.

Herrigel, one German thinker, was in a Zen monastery in Japan. He was learning archery there, and master said, “Allow the life force to aim and allow the life force to release the arrow. You do not do anything.”

It was difficult, really impossible – and particularly for a German mind that is basically intellect-oriented. That is why the experience of Germany proves so fatal: too much intellect, too much ego, too much effort. Then the ego came to a point where it said to the German people, “Now you can be victorious all over the world.” Hitler was just expression of all the minds – ego-oriented.

Herrigel was unable to understand: “If I do not release the arrow, how can the arrow be released? If I am not making an effort, there will be no effort at all.”

And this is how we would feel also. For three years he was there with the master. He learned the art completely – as completely as possible. His aims were a hundred percent right. The arrow would always reach the target. But the master went on shaking his head. He said, “This is nothing.”

A hundred percent results, and the master would say, “This is nothing; you have not learned anything. You are still releasing the arrow. And we are not interested in the target, we are interested in you. We are not interested in the other end, we are interested in you. You are the target. That target is not the target. When the arrow is released without you, when the life force has taken possession of you, only then”…because archery is not the point: meditation is the point.

The master said, “Even if you miss – even if you miss the target completely – that is irrelevant. But you should not miss the original source.”

Herrigel was desperate. And the more desperate he was, the more effort he made. The more he tried, the more the master would say, “You disappoint me.”

Then a day came when Herrigel thought, “This is impossible, it cannot happen. Three years is too long a time, making so much effort every day.” He felt frustrated. He said to the master, “Now allow me to leave. I think this is not for me. It seems impossible to conceive. I have done whatsoever I could but nothing happens.”

The master said, “Because you were doing whatsoever you could, you were not allowing the life force to do anything. You are the barrier.”

Herrigel decided to leave. The day he was leaving, he came just to say goodbye to the master. The master was training another disciple. Herrigel just sat there. For the first time he was indifferent because now he was leaving, and he had left the whole effort, and there was no point in it. He sat silently and just saw the master without the eyes of desire, ambition, achievement. He just saw the master, and for the first time in three years he could realize that the master was not releasing. It was the life force. The arrow was released by something which was not coming from the ego. It was coming from a deeper energy.

He stood as if hypnotized. He came near the master, took the bow from his hand and released the arrow, and the master said, “Right! You have done it.” And Herrigel writes, “I now know the difference between when the life force releases it and when you do it.”


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