Kyudo – the ancient standing meditation practice of Zen archery

Kyudo is the standing meditation practice of using a bow and an arrow.

Working with the precision of the form, a natural process gradually unfolds through which the practitioner has the opportunity to see the mind more clearly. The target becomes a mirror which reflects the qualities of heart and mind at the moment of the arrow’s release. This distinguishes kyudo from archery where simply hitting the target is the goal. 

Neither age, sex, nor physical strength have any significance in this deceptively simple practice. It involves instruction in the Seven Coordinations between the mind, equipment and body, so that a release of the arrow can happen safely and with power. This point of release, the First Shot, can help a student of meditation recognize his/her mind at rest.

The power of contradiction is to hold what is otherwise considered an energetic weapon up close and touching the cheek at full draw, while at the same time relaxing into a posture of dignity and openness. What is available after release is called Leftover Heart and Mind. As a student continues the practice of Kyudo, this understanding might deepen.

Training in the First Shot has always been recommended by the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (who was a senior student of Kyudo). They recommend it even if the student does not continue practicing Kyudo.

We are offering a First Shot weekend here in West Chester. You can register here.

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