What I’m reading 📖 this week: A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto // Want to know about ancient Zen household techniques to calm your mind? Read on!
CLEAN LIKE A MONK
Are you sometimes feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff you have and how to keep your house clean? I know I do. Last year I moved in with my boyfriend to trial living together in an apartment of only 38 m2. This is quite a challenge because my boyfriend is quite the hoarder. 😂 That's why this book by Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumoto cried out to me from the bookstore shelves.
"Sweep away your worldly cares."
This book promises that a few, simple changes to your daily cleaning habits can turn your home into a peaceful refuge from today's busy world. It taps perfectly into the whole 'minimalist living' trend and it is in itself a small book: you can easily read it in one afternoon.
WHO is SHOUKEI?
Shoukei does not see his book as a method, but more of a mindset:
"Cleaning is a practice, like zazen meditation. If you can change your mindset so that cleaning goes from being simply housework to being a [Buddhist] practice, that is a big change. "
WHY DO IT LIKE A MONK?
You can clean your house in many ways, why would you want to clean it like a monk? This book touches upon the feeling we all have: cleaning is chore and you rather not do it, put it off or outsource it and get on with living your life. But the Zen mindset is the opposite:
"Think of your house as an allegory of your body.
"We sweep dust to remove our world desires."
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS RUBBISH?
The book shows that anything dirty, worn out, unusable or no longer needed is often called rubbish. But it claims that "nothing starts out as rubbish. Things become rubbish when they are treated as rubbish."
Appreciate everything in front of you. Within every object you can find time and effort put into it by the people who made it: "People who don't respect objects, don't respect people."
This doesn't mean you will have to hold on to every object. If you feel you don't need it any more, be thankful of using it and give it another place to shine.
Fun fact: in some temples they have designated specific days for tasks, like getting your hair cut on days that end with a '4', or cleaning the light fixtures on specific dates in a month.
IS IT EVER FINISHED?
When Shoukei talks about cleaning being a practice, I wonder: does it ever finish?
In the last chapter of the book he talks about when the cleaning is finished and shares that living with less stuff also makes sure you have to clean less.
He also advises to make cleaning a communal activity and do it together with your partner or kids. This will also install an appreciation of your house and the objects in it within every family member.
"Where there is nothing, there is everything."