People frequently compare kyudo to meditation, and while I think there is something to that, there is also something more. In Zen in the Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel recounts several conversations with his teacher, Awa Kenzo, in which the latter expresses the idea of a natural release (離れ) by explaining that “It” shoots. What is “It?”
Personally I think the answer here is Mu, but the answer alone isn’t worth much. What counts is the experience, and that’s quite interesting, because as every kyudoka knows, the release doesn’t just happen. You have to prepare the way. You have to reach the full draw, both physically and spiritually, and only then, if you are able to let go of your self, can the natural release happen. In that moment, as Awa wrote, “… there is nothing. It is like water flowing.” And indeed, when it happens, there is a very real sense in which you wonder if you can take credit for the shot at all.
This is very important because it identifies not only the point at which kyudo and Zen become one, but provides a first-hand glimpse of how action in the world remains possible even within selflessness, within emptiness.