Life Philosophy From Buddhist Monk Shoukei Matsumoto
The idea that the process of cleaning your house could be good for your inner well-being would probably sound absurd to most people. Well, not if you are the Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumoto. There is so much more to health than healing or preventing physical sickness. Our health also constitutes the well-being of our mind, and whichever worldview you interpret it from, our inner man. Studies have actually shown that there is a direct correlation between this and the state of our immediate environment. Matsumoto, a Japanese Zen Buddhist, shares these perspectives in his book ‘A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind’, which was published in early 2018.
Outer & Inner Well-Being
Practically, everyone can agree that a clean environment is crucial for avoidance of disease. Human beings are constantly exposed to health risks in their regular, everyday life. It is exactly for this reason that it is important to ensure that our surroundings are sanitized as much as possible. Beyond that, there is so much more that can be gained as a result – and in the process – of cleaning.
In his book, Matsumoto speaks of the exercise of cleaning as one that helps to “eliminate the gloom in our hearts.” While talking about practical ways of removing dirt and stains, he also addresses how to cleanse internally by doing away with obsessions and anxieties.
Cleanliness & Enlightenment
In wider Japanese culture, cleaning is not just the act itself. It is a never ending cycle. For the Buddhists, the process is an exact science. It has to be the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning. Every step has to be done with a very high level of awareness. It starts with donning the correct attire and getting the necessary tools. It has to be done room-by-room, polishing all surfaces to become spotless and to get rid of any potentially harmful elements. This builds up from the kitchen, the bathroom and personal items, to other rooms and eventually the body and mind.
When first written, Matsumoto’s book was originally intended for trainees of the Zen school of Mahayana Buddhism, which focuses on the importance of meditation rather than traditional worship rituals. It has however, gone on to win high praise around the world. The Guardian, for instance, called it “charming” and went on to describe it as offering “fascinating insights into the Buddhist approach to life.” It has also seen the author compared with some successful experts who have specialized in a similar discipline.
Matsumoto is a monk who is possibly as modern as can be (he has an MBA and is quite adept on social media). Unsurprisingly, he has been very progressive in sharing his values within a context that most people relate to. The success of his book has provoked people to think about a core part of their lives with entirely new depth and illumination.