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Paperback The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master (The Way of the Warrior Series) Book

ISBN: 087011851X

ISBN13: 9780870118517

The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master (The Way of the Warrior Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

So succinct are the author's insights that these writings have outlasted the dissolution of the samurai class to come down to the present and be read for guidance and inspiration by the captains of business and industry, as well as those devoted to the practice of the martial arts in their modern form.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

The Unfettered Mind

While it may sound cliched when I first read The Unfettered Mind it went over my head entirely. To be honest I was a bit disappointed as I was expecting something similar to The Book of Five Rings. After reflecting on what I had read for a couple days it started to click and I was able to appreciate the profundity of Soho's words. If you pick it up and aren't immediately hooked just give it some time and it might grow on you.

A Great Translation

This book contains a collection of three letters/essays from Takuan Soho to masters of the sword arts. They contain some incredible gems. This book should not just be read; but reflected upon.As another reviwer said, "The ideas of the interval between striking flint and steel to the production of the spark, or the visual and mental image of the glint of light on the blade of a sword become captivating and even revelatory." I could not have said it any better myself. This is a must read book.

For those seeking The Way, this book is great

If you are a martial artist or Zen student seeking new ways of understanding the "enlightenment" of mastering an art, then this book can offer different angles from which to think about your practice. It can help you acknowledge the frustrations you feel as you reach that plateau where the harder you try the worse you perform, and it can give you the encouragement to get beyond that. If, on the other hand, you're not into Zen texts, this book will bore you into a coma.I found most enlightening Takuan's remarks on the stages of learning a skill, each with its own challenges; from the beginner struggling to teach his muscles the postures and movements, through the sophomore trying to "unstick" his mind from such details and focus on strategy, to the master who gives his actions no more thought than an adult gives standing up and walking across the room. These apply not only to martial arts, but to any activity that requires both physical skill and tactical thinking, from swordfighting to tennis, judo to golf.The book is in three sections, which are actually translations of three letters written by Takuan to Yagyu Munenori. If you read this book, you should also read The Sword and the Mind, by Yagyu Munenori; they could almost be considered companion texts. Both have their interesting sections and their obtuse, no-longer-apparently relevant sections; and both at their most helpful address how to approach your practice and therefore your life.

Wilson's is a good translation

In essence, this book is Takuan's (a Zen priest) message (written in a letter) to Yagyu Munenori about swordsmanship and Zen. Wilson's translation is but one of many (cf. Sugawara, Sato, etc..) but it is quite good.

An unexplicated work of profound simplicity

Takuan's voice in this work provides resonance for scholars and martial artists alike. For avid readers of the Zen tradition, this book offers both contrast and compliment to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. Most intersting I thought was his disticntion between the "mind of principle" and the "mind of technique". It stimulates meditation on our own day-to-day quality of thought and action.


I have been involved with the martial arts for over 25 years. Student, instructor, swordsman. I consider this book a reference tool and a source of inspiritation. My copy is worn and tattered, what more can I say.I am sure that Musashi valued his friendship with the author. The insights into human nature and self improvement are timeless.
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