Monday, January 22, 2018

The Way of the Bow

The importance of repetition

An action is a thought made manifest.

The slightest gesture betrays us, so we must polish everything, think about details, learn the technique in such a way that it becomes intuitive.  Intuition has nothing to do with routine, but with a state of mind that is beyond technique.
So, after much practicing, we no long4er think about the necessary movements: they become part of our own existence.  But for this to happen, you must practice and repeat.

And if that isn’t enough, you must repeat and practice.  Look at a skilled farrier working steel.  To the untrained eye, he is merely repeating the same hammer blows; but anyone who follows the way of the bow, knows that each time the farrier lifts the hammer and brings it down, the intensity of the blow is different.  The hand repeats the same gesture, but as it approaches the metal, it understands that it must touch it with more or less force.

Look at a windmill. To someone who glances at its sails only once, they seem to be moving at the same speed, repeating the same movement; but those familiar with windmills know that they are controlled by the wind and change direction as necessary.

The hand of the farrier was trained by repeating the gesture of hammering thousands of times.  The sails of the windmill can move fast when the wind blows hard, and thus ensure that its gears run smoothly.

The archer allows many arrows to go far beyond the target, because he knows that he will only learn the importance of bow, posture, string and target, by repeating his gestures thousands of times, and by not being afraid to make mistakes.
And then comes the moment when he no longer has to think about what he is doing.  From then on, the archer becomes his bow, his arrow and his target.

How to observe the flight of the arrow

The arrow is the projection of an intention into space.
Once the arrow has been shot, there is nothing more the archer can do, except follow its path to the target.  From that moment on, the tension required to shoot the arrow has no further reason to exist.  Therefore, the archer keeps his eyes fixed on the flight of the arrow, but his heart rests, and he smiles.

If he has practiced enough, if he has managed to develop his instinct, if he has maintained elegance and concentration throughout the whole process of shooting the arrow, he will, at that moment, feel the presence of the universe, and will see that his action was just and deserved.

Technique allows the hands to be ready, the breathing to be precise, and the eyes to be trained on the target.  Instinct allows the moment of release to be perfect.
Anyone passing nearby, and seeing the archer with his arms open, his eyes following the arrow, will think that nothing is happening.  But his allies know that the mind of the person who made the shot has changed dimensions: it is now in touch with the whole universe.  The mind continues to work, learning all the positive things about that shot, correcting possible errors, accepting its good qualities, and waiting to see how the target reacts when it is hit.

When the archer draws the bow-string, he can see the whole world in his bow.  When he follows the flight of the arrow, that world grows closer to him, caresses him and gives him a perfect sense of duty fulfilled.

A warrior of light, once he has done his duty and transformed his intention into gesture, need fear nothing else: he has done what he should have done.  He did not allow himself to be paralysed by fear. Even if the arrow failed to hit the target, he will have another opportunity, because he did not give in to cowardice.

By Paulo Coelho

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