The Unfettered Mind

  • by Takuan Soho, William Scott Wilson (translator)
  • Narrated by Roger Clark
  • 2 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This classic samurai-era text fused Japanese swordsmanship with Zen and influenced the direction that the art has taken ever since. Written by the 17th-century Zen master Takuan Soho (1573-1645), The Unfettered Mind is a book of advice on swordsmanship and the cultivation of right mind and intention. It was written as a guide for the samurai Yagyu Munenori, who was a great swordsman and rival to the legendary Miyamoto Musashi. Takuan was a giant in the history of Zen; he was also a gardener, calligrapher, poet, author, adviser to samurai and shoguns, and a pivotal figure in Zen painting. He was known for his brilliance and acerbic wit. In these succinct and pointed essays, Takuan is concerned primarily with understanding and refining the mind - both generally and when faced with conflict. The Unfettered Mind was a major influence on the classic manifestos on swordsmanship that came after it, including Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings and Yagyu Munenori's Life-Giving Sword.

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The Unfettered Mind of a Genius

When a legendary Zen master corresponds to a legendary master swordsman, the result cannot be anything other than special. To have these writings today, translated with care to other languages... this is truly a great treasure.

I've commented on other reviews that I study western swordfighting and incorporated martial arts, which I believe is more versatile due primarily to the nature of the weapon, but is considerably more limited mentally. The object is "I hit you, you hit the floor." The very things that make the martial arts an "art" is lost without the mental and spiritual applications that the eastern counterparts have refined to perfection. It's the difference between being a cheap thug and being a true warrior in every sense of the term. Honor and victory are in the warrior, not the weapon.

In my quest to cross-pollinate these disciplines and reap a greater reward, I discovered this audiobook. I could tell you how mind-blowing it was. I could tell you how these words opened myself to a new level of understanding and appreciation. I could even tell you how further elaboration on these concepts might water them down due to how perfectly presented they are.

But I won't. Instead, I will say that if your interests lie here, you will find exactly what you hope to find and so much more. I know I did. And I now I will listen again, because I know that such wisdom does not unfold itself in a single presentation.
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- Troy "I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!"

Better than Art of War

Where does The Unfettered Mind rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Compared to books of similar length and type, I'd say this is perhaps my favorite.


What did you like best about this story?

It's not a story, but basically Buddhist advice. It's very concise and can be abstracted to apply to a whole host of situations; this is what I had hoped for and why I listened. In the sense of well told and contemporarily applicable abstractions, I found this better than Sun Tzu's Art of War which though more famous seems more forced to fit contemporary situations. Soho's book is more "airy" so in a sense perhaps more difficult than Art of War (which I presume is why it's less famous) yet at the same time, I found it more fruitful in helping provide new perspectives on things.


Have you listened to any of Roger Clark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First time I believe, but he did a solid job conveying the wisdom in a non-pretentious voice. The content was the words of the sage and thanks to Roger Clark were delivered as such.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I don't think they could, but don't let that dissuade you.


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- Adam

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-09-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios