Increasing, endlessly increasing

An extract from a tale of an archery lesson with a Japanese master who has stopped his pupil with words something like:

“… when a man, perhaps after a long struggle, has achieved a certain form in himself, in his life, in his work, only one misfortune can then befall him — that fate should allow him to stand still in that achievement. If fate means well by him it knocks his success out of his hands before it sets and hardens. To do just this during practice is the task of the good teacher. For what is the point of all this? Not the hitting of the target. For what ultimately matters, in learning archery or any other art, is not what comes out of it but what goes into it. Into, that is into the person. The self-practice in the service of an outward accomplishment serves, beyond it, the development of the inner man. And what endangers this inner development more than anything else? Standing still in his achievement. A man must go on increasing, endlessly increasing.”

The master’s voice had grown grave now and urgent, and indeed, this kind of archery is something quite different from the enjoyable sport where one competes with friends in hitting a target. It is a school of life — or to use a modern expression, an existential practice.

“Hara – The Vital Center of Man” by Karlfried Graf Durckheim


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