"Billiards is a path of passion that cares the soul." - Fred Fechter
Effortlessness is about what Zen traditions call "non-doing". Non-doing is an experience that happens in our bodies. Is is a gut feeling of physical ease, which then gets reflected in mental clarity and emotional detachment. In order to get into the effortless zone, we have to make being at ease in our bodies more important getting something done. We have to let go of the addiction to pushing and pulling.
The martial arts has offered some of the clearest examples that are single-mindedly devoted to training their practitioners in effortlessness. They can teach us how important it is to let go of all the things that we use to rationalize our tense and effortful responses to life.
Eugen Herrigel's Zen In The Art Of Archery, published in 1953 offers some view-points of this training. An American professor of philosophy, Herrigel lived in Japan and studied archery with a Zen master long before interest in Zen was common in the West. While in Japan, Herrigel observed a Zen master archer draw a short stiff and powerful bow so gracefully, and fluidly shooting it with astonishing accuracy. When Herrigel was invited to follow the masters example, he found to his dismay that despite his seemingly greater strength he could not draw the bow at all without straining and pulling. The master observed and said nothing.
For months, Herrigel struggled unsuccessfully to draw the bow. When he was about to quit in despair, he asked for help. The master then began teaching him mind, body and spirit awareness training techniques that opened up and relaxed his body, with the result of a very short time, he was able to draw the bow easily. Herrigel was learning that one's internal state is everything, and that the external focus - in Herrigel's case, drawing the bow and hitting the mark - is at best a distraction from the real goal of inner balance. This is an enormous lesson that has to be learned again and again in so many ways to be fully absorbed. Herrigel advises everyone to obtain an Instructor that guides in helping and accelerating this great wonderful journey.
Eugen Herrigel went on to become a master archer, even beyond the ability of his Instructor, but this did not stop their continued relationship. For Herrigel then fully realized a student teaches a true Teacher. For the wise know, a true Teacher will Teach Anyone... To Become Better.