Eugen Herrigel


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Eugen Herrigel was a German philosopher who taught philosophy at Tohoku Imperial University in Sendai, Japan, from 1924 to 1929 and introduced Zen to large parts of Europe through his writings.

While living in Japan from 1924 to 1929, he studied kyūdō, traditional Japanese archery, under Awa Kenzō, a master of archery and founder of his own new religious movement called "The Great Doctrine of the Way of Shooting." Herrigel pursued archery in the hope of better understanding Zen. Although Herrigel claims to have studied archery for six years, he was only in Japan for just over five years and probably only studied archery for three of those years.[1] In July 1929, he returned to Germany and was given a chair in philosophy at the University of Erlangen.

In a letter to Encounter Magazine, Gershom Scholem writes that "Herrigel joined the Nazi Party after the outbreak of the war, and some of his former friends in Frankfurt, who broke with him over this issue, told me about his career as a convinced Nazi when I enquired about him in 1946. He was known to have stuck it out to the bitter end. This was not mentioned in some biographical notes on Herrigel published by his widow, who built up his image as one concerned with the higher spiritual sphere only." 

He also states in the same letter that he thinks this fact supports the point made by Arthur Koestler in the same magazine that Zen can be used to justify the politics of the Nazi party. Eugen Herrigel was an active member of the Nazi organization Militant League for German Culture.

Best author’s book


Zen in the Art of Archery