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Book recommendation: "A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind"

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

"A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind" is a charming little peek into the monastic lifestyle of a Buddhist monk in Japan. Shoukei Matsumoto reveals the reason why monks clean every day even though their temples are already spotless; he explains how the act of cleaning is a way of wiping the "gloom from our hearts".


Matsumoto-san gives every day examples to illustrate Japanese culture ideas such as "mottainai"- the expression of the sense of regret concerning waste. For example, he explains the importance of re-using items in the Buddhist tradition through the making of dust cloths: "The commitment to treasure objects until they can no longer be used of repurposed is at the heart of Buddhism" (p. 27) Monks would never use new fabric to make dust cloths; they would find another cloth that can no longer be used for its original purpose and re-use that fabric.


Furoshiki are a perfect example of "treasuring" an object, because it allows us to use it for many different purposes. At the end of its life cycle, instead of throwing it out, we can recycle it into dust cloths or make nuno-zori (cloth sandals).


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