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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT
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.
Published on July 11, 1998 by dino99@prodigy.net

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39 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not illuminating.
Takuan Soho has a book made of 3 parts, the first is a letter he wrote to a sword master about not "stopping the mind" and "the right mind" which basically amounts to "practice makes perfect" to the modern marital artist. I can't say that it went any further than that.

The next section reminded me very strongly of Plato's...
Published on April 6, 1998 by Travis Cottreau


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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT, July 11, 1998
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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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexplicated work of profound simplicity, June 16, 1999
By A Customer
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.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Work of a Genius, June 3, 2009
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This review is from: The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)
Takuan is one of my sources for inspiration, and I value this work. He was born during the Warring States period in 1573 into a Samurai family of the Miura clan, and entered a Jodo-sect Buddhist monastery when he was 10. He joined the Zen Rinzai sect when he was 14, and made history by becoming the abbot of Daitokuji, one of the major temples in Kyoto, at the young age of only 30.

He was a prolific writer who composed over 6 major volumes, of which this is but a small fragment. The three works contained here were all written to great sword masters including Yagyu Munenori, and last piece was possibly to the head of the Itto school of swordsmanship, Ono Tadaaki. The purpose of these works is to unify the spirit of Zen with the spirit of the sword. To transcend the physical duel and have unbroken awareness of everything in the moment.

This is not a book to read quickly and hope to find entertainment or a lesson in history. This is deep martial philosophy written by an absolute genius and master of some of the highest arts in ancient Japan. The book contains a few images of his art and calligraphy, but unless you know what to look for it is hard to see just how great his work is. I bought a repo scroll of his calligraphy when last I was in Japan. There is a standout quality about his style in that his scripting appears three dimensional. In fact, it is almost impossible for at least my mind to follow some of the path. Never seen anything like it. I own an original Tesshu who was a great master, but there is something unique and special about Takuan's style that suggests he may have indeed been operating on a whole different level.

"The unfettered Mind" is very advanced stuff. This is not a casual read, and it will appeal to experienced martial artists willing to work with it and apply deep meditation to the many concepts that may not be apparent at first glance. This is one of the greats.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind over matter?, March 25, 2008
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You might be someone who's down to earth, just like, figuring out how in someone's name some Japanese sword fighter is going to help you out in your daily life. Well, he isn't going to.

What this book does teaches you is to seek within yourself and return to your own core. As I'm not someone who meditates or does much spiritual enlightment, this book still taught me a lot. As for the time of reading it, it takes you back into time and makes you think of certain things you might not have thought about all your life. So, if that's enlightment, count me in.

With only 92 real pages to read, this book still gives much value for its price. Most sentences are compressed with knowledge and sometimes make you read them twice. Hey, that's 184 pages already then!

Are you interested in gaining some spiritual thoughts and maybe some habits as well? Then read this book.
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39 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not illuminating., April 6, 1998
By 
Travis Cottreau (Wellington, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Takuan Soho has a book made of 3 parts, the first is a letter he wrote to a sword master about not "stopping the mind" and "the right mind" which basically amounts to "practice makes perfect" to the modern marital artist. I can't say that it went any further than that.

The next section reminded me very strongly of Plato's republic, as Takuan Soho went into the nature of the world as it is, which is very much seen through the lense of his understanding (16th century Japanese science I guess) which is sometimes ridiculous, and of limited use.

The third section is interesting, as he takes writing of various martial artists and interprets them or critiques them. This is useful for a modern martial artist, as we lack much of the historical and cultural context to interpret these directly from the translation. This section, along with the first are what makes the book worth reading. Still, I think that there are many more useful books out there for the martial artist to read before this one. Try Frederick Lovret's "Way and the Power", or Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" or Musashi's "A Book of Five Rings". All of these are much more useful.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilson's is a good translation, August 23, 1999
By A Customer
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.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for any martial artist or business person, May 28, 1996
By A Customer
This is not an entertaining book. This is not a story and
is not engaging. What it is is illuminating! This very
short (and frequently hard to find) collection of three letters/essays
from Takuan Soho to masters of the sword arts contains some
incredible gems. It is the kind of book that should be read
a page or even just a paragraph at a time followed by a period
of thought. 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.
If you are a martial
artist, you MUST read this book. If you are in business,
this is as essential as Musashi's Book of Five Rings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Unfettered Mind, August 22, 2011
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This review is from: The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)
Very interesting book, with great wisdom, however, being that it is a printing of actual letters from the samurai days, it is not an easy, breezy read!! You need to be in the right mood to focus and pay attention to the wisdom in it. The more you love studying Zen Buddhism and martial arts, the more you will enjoy it. But certainly not a casual read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takuan, more than just a tasty pickle!, November 13, 2008
By 
Compromised (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This text, which includes the elusive "Taia-ki" or Sword of Taia is not for the casual reader. It requires study and serious thought to approach it's lessons. My suggestion is to read it, study it, and then forget it and go about your business. Zen is found in our daily activities, so keep it simple. Eat when hungry, go to the toilet when you need to eliminate, and sleep when tired. Once internalized, let it go, focus on the here and now, and get out of the trap of over-intellectualizing everything. These are some of the fundamental lessons of the priest Takuan Soho. He was a confidante to the powerful, and a master of many arts. His advice to the Yagyu sword experts is as valid today as it was 400 years ago. Whether the reader has an interest in zen and martial arts or not, this philosophical work is worthy of the reader's attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unfettered Mind, December 1, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman (The Way of the Warrior Series) (Hardcover)
I read this book out of a recommendation from both Jerry Poteet (a student of Bruce Lee) and his student (and my instructor) Ed Monaghan. From what I was told Sijo Bruce Lee had read this book over and over again for regular insight into the martial arts. I thought it was okay. I have practiced both Zen and Martial Arts for 15 years now, and found that this piece was not as great as the Five Rings, or the Art of War, but it had it's moments. I really like the last section, Annals of the Sword Taia, and the first section The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom. However, the middle section was okay and more about Buddhist beliefs and such.

It's not a bad book to read but it definitely didn't tickle my feathers in any way more than I have already read in other Zen/MA related texts.
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