Zen Archery with Bodhihanna

Recently Ma Bodhihanna died. She was I believe 89 years old.  She was an admirable person who had survived nazism.

She became interested in zen archery late in life and used to practice in Pune.(Osho Teerth Park)

I like the mood and movement of this small little film from Pankaja of her zen practice,  pictured against the story of her war years.


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30 Responses to Zen Archery with Bodhihanna

  1. simond says:

    Interesting tale.

    I’ve a comment as an aside, about zen practices and the emphasis on an inner focus to create a mind/body synthesis, and a ‘capturing of the moment’.

    The stillness, the concentration, application required create a wonderful image. The Japanese mind seems particularly attracted to these practices, with its love of discipline. And perhaps no surprise a German might also be fascinated by zen archery too.

    I guess, as with any meditation, a focus and energy and regular practice is required. It takes the hurried and wilful mind and allows the practitioner to discover something beyond the everyday.

    I’ve noticed as a consequence, practitioners of meditation can get a bit hooked on achieving the feeling of ‘oneness’ or stillness and mistake these experiences as the final goal. On they go, trying harder and harder to recapture and repeat moments when they felt that harmony and peace.

    As a Barry Long student I saw it in people who were always trying to be ‘still’, and I see it in meditators from all walks of life.

    In the video, so too, the emphasis is on slowing everything down, and observing and watching the mind. It all looks very controlled, even awkward.

    Osho never displayed that awkwardness or control, he laughed and told dirty jokes and enjoyed his Coca Cola. Yet he also displayed great stillness and poise.

    The difference, as I see it, is that Osho wasn’t trying to ‘capture the moment’, wasn’t looking for ‘stillness’, had no need to control his mind or discipline his body. That was all past. I know he had done the work, but he’d let all that go. Now it was natural and easy.

    As I see it, because he hadn’t just attempted to control his mind, or seek peace through meditation, he had lived and been burnt by everyday experience. He’d questioned everything, he’d investigated his mind, his emotions, he’d explored issues of family, of love, where fear came from, he’d explored anger and jealousy. Only through living and dying to all the concepts and ideas did he discover the place beyond mind and feelings.

    That, Zen Archery canna do

    • shantam prem says:

      Simond, as a Barry Long student, what prompted you to try Osho?

    • Parmartha says:

      Thanks, Simond,
      for your thoughtful contribution here.

      Zen archery, it is true, like any ‘method’. may be limited, but all the same better, is it not, than just wasting one’s life watching television, eating, smoking, and existing like many, quite far from any real consciousness’? Or maybe not….

  2. shantam prem says:

    Military in North Korea displays very ZEN quality. Their licking the feet of that fat boy is also very Zen though that son of the retarded bastard is beyond Zen!

  3. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    Loved that, Simond – and also how you made ´the entry´ here to this thread. Second, much but not all, especially not your last sentence ´dictum´, which I´d like to question. Just to question that. Not more and not less.

    Personally, I´ve been aquainted with Bhodihanna faintly over these decades; starting up when she was still in the book market business. We were not intimate friends though.

    Much more personally acquainted I´ve been with Asanga (who is to be seen in the vid) – working for months as the only German woman in the Japanese Bamboo-Ashram-Gardenfence crew, also living with Japanese friends outside the Ashram 1987.

    Recall that we did a lot of Tai chi, Qi Gong and breathing exercises guided by Asanga, who hadn’t installed his Zen Archery at that time yet. Recall him being in charge of the crew, working with the Bamboo day in day out and having his wonderful guidance in the breaks with movements and exercises, such a deep, deep experience for me…

    I cried my way through these months – more than less – and remember Asanga telling me, “That is a good sign; that´s how the Bamboo works on you,” he said. “Deep cleaning,” he said, and so it was and never to be captured by the mind, even nowadays not.

    So some gossip and rumours reaching me later in Germany about this-and-that, never stirred any ripple in me.

    Working and also living with Japonese friends have been leaving strong imprints, also leaving me with so much gratefulness.

    Never did Archery myself, but did watch it here-there and sometimes with quite a similiar effect in and on me like watching the Gurdijeff dances. Stillness and an increase of awareness – also as a ´mere´ watcher.

    But yes, Simond, you made some important points in your comment. Thanks for this.

    Others will be ´hooked elsewhere, I guess.


  4. swami anand anubodh says:

    As we know, Zen was important to Osho and played a large part in his life. (The phrase: ‘his life’ to me, is a much better fit than: ‘his work’).

    The insights he provided into its world and inner workings always and still does fascinate me. Ma Bodhihanna was not as well known as some, so perhaps she would be quietly chuffed to know that her passing has not gone without notice. And that her life is stimulating interest.

    Seeing her dressed in white gi and black hakama reminded me of a small incident that happened when I used to do the Japanese martial art of Aikido.

    I was holding my opponent in an arm and wrist lock, when I noticed the sensi approaching out of the corner of my eye. He was coming to check that the technique was being applied correctly. And as he moved closer, I could actually feel the guy’s pulse rate increase. I realised in that moment, that if this was a Master/disciple situation, then soon after the disciple would be telling all and sundry how he could ‘feel’ the Master’s ‘energy’ as he approached. I would say: No! What you could feel was your own anxiety level rise.

    I often wonder if sannyasins are able to make this subtle distinction.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      “I was holding my opponent in an arm and wrist lock, when I noticed the sensi approaching out of the corner of my eye. He was coming to check that the technique was being applied correctly. And as he moved closer, I could actually feel the guy’s pulse rate increase. I realised in that moment, that if this was a Master/disciple situation, then soon after the disciple would be telling all and sundry how he could ‘feel’ the Master’s ‘energy’ as he approached. I would say: No! What you could feel was your own anxiety level rise.” (Anand Anubodh).

      By reading this paragraph, you contributed, then subsumming with: “I often wonder if sannyasins are able to make this subtle distinction.” –
      I´ve been wondering about your own part and awareness of this in that narrated play, Anand Anubodh.

      What came into my mind is that if any Master is genuine, the projection of one´s own anxiety level comes quite naturally into play in such situations. And one never really knows what´s the outcome of that.

      And you – describing your own role in standing ´aloof´, fantasising, to know what will be coming ´next´ (on and from the side of your opponent!), besides some pride and conclusions then about others – are in my eyes, missing.

      As any roles of ´locking in´ others in that Leela of energetic ´Give and Take´ are changing in an instant .

      I´ve been in utter awe and admiration too, being invited for a watching of these energetic dances of Japanese Aikido Master Watanabe´s disciples in the eighties, last century, and His taking care of ´stuck situations`.

      What I learnt in watching THIS is that taking is also giving and vice versa. And what it also points at, is that CHANGE is all that IS.

      So why you, Anand Anubodh – obviously a longtime practioner of Aikido and maybe similiar practices – enhance a judgment about ´THE´ Sannyasins, I really don´t know, and won´t follow you in that.

      And thanks for giving me the opportunity to see some of my own judgemental habits.


      • swami anand anubodh says:

        Hello Madhu,

        The best sense I can make of what I believe you are saying to me is:
        “Why are you being so judgemental about sannyasins if you are into Aikido. You should be all, ‘Yin Yangy’.”

        If my understanding is wrong, then I accept it is my fault with apologies. And you have no need to read any further.

        As you consider me to be aloof no more damage can be done if I say more about the Master and energy.

        I was in the ashram one evening and noticed about twenty sannyasins sitting on the wall outside Lao Tzu House. I knew why they were there as a darshan was taking place, but I asked one of them anyway. His answer was: “To feel Bhagwan’s energy”, so I decided to sit with them. After about five minutes all I felt was bored, and my inner voice saying: “You can sit here fiddling with your mala, or go into town for a cold beer”. I gave a quick glance down the line of our comrades, who all seemed to be ‘away with the fairies’, so I was able to slip away unnoticed.

        I wondered later if any of the others also felt nothing, but decided best to stay sitting like lemons.

        Those that believe they can feel the Master’s energy, fine. My interest is in those that don’t and maybe feel they are somehow incomplete, or worst, need to pretend. I never felt any energy radiating from Osho when I was with him and he never suggested to me that I should. My overriding memory of him was his politeness. His last words to me and others, were: “Go help my people”. I like to think that he would not put his trust in someone he thought was deficient.

        If my observations (not judgements) about energy help anyone. That’s all that matters.

        • Arpana says:

          I assume swami anand anubodh you are in your sixties, possibly older. Cant you, a man in your sixties, forgive those foolish young people their foolishness? (Most of them would have been in their twenties). Nobody is born fully mature. Growing up is an ongoing process.

          I’ve known many a twenty-something grow up over the years.

          • swami anand anubodh says:


            I have read your post very carefully (several times), and I am not quite sure what point you are trying to make.

            Let me give you some real numbers so that you do not have to work from assumptions.

            I first met Osho when I was 18 in 1975, and the events I speak of happened in 1979. Which when you crunch the figures makes me 22 at the time. So I was one of those young foolish “twenty-somethings” you are now asking me to forgive. That makes no sense.

        • Tan says:

          What I experienced when I met Osho was a ‘quietness’ that I can’t describe. And with this ‘quietness’ I could see myself and all the heavy bullshit I was carrying. And I laughed and laughed, but I only could see a smile on my face. And my first thought when the experience had gone was “how stupid I am”, and I laughed more!

          Just that, but was enough to understand a bit more of myself.


          • Arpana says:

            I couldn’t stand up. Had to be lifted to my feet and dragged out by two guys.

          • simond says:

            I like your description, Tan. That you discovered a quietness in Osho, that was then reflected in you.

            With that came your satori moment, of seing how stupid you were. A lovely moment

            How stupid we all are, eh? And as you say, very sweetly, how you understood yourself a little more. Lovely stuff.

          • swami anand anubodh says:

            Hello Tan,

            It was always interesting in darshan to see how people reacted when they first met Osho.

        • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

          Hi Anand Anubodh,
          I didn´t say that nor mean what you twisted around like: ´“Why are you being so judgemental about sannyasins if you are into Aikido. You should be all ‘Yin Yangy’.”´

          And please don´t try (again) any machine ´google-translator´.

          Better to be at ease for both of us, I suggest – sometimes the meaning of words take their time to find a space of understanding.
          Or not.
          Who knows?


          • swami anand anubodh says:

            Hello Madhu,

            I did not twist your words, I only gave them my best guess at their meaning.

  5. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    One shot, one life, fast as an arrow
    Another gentle and silent presence come back to the source.

    Ciao Bodhihanna.

  6. Parmartha says:

    I liked Bodhihanna and what she was doing to the end of her life seems very meaningful to me.
    The context in which she was doing it, within the umbrella of the Resort and Osho Teerth park – this felt like a very good vibe, and perfect resting place for such an art and for her.

    What might seem to be small good things happening within that context seem totally lost on those who constantly run down the Resort, and this in itself leads me to look at their wider views with scepticism.

    • shantam prem says:

      Parmartha, you can ask yourself why Bodhihanna was there in Pune till the end of her life and why Veena deserted Pune and went to China to sit with monks meditating at the Samadhi of some mystic (I have forgotten the name).

      It is not easy to cross-question the motives of one´s own priests.

      I am quite sceptical towards people´s awakening who don´t want to see facts with detached mind. After all, being detached with one´s mind is one of the key element of seeker´s life.

  7. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Thanks, friends.

  8. shantam prem says:

    It seems Barry Long too changed his name: Bazza.
    Bazza is new synonym of Osho.

    Few months ago, I was checking in google about the religious titles in Japan. What I have understood, Osho is not very high but middle level title, almost similar to Acharya in India.