Quality of our life is the sum total of the practices we do every day. When we do practices that nourish our body, mind, and soul, our life becomes better and joyful. The mundane and monotonous tasks too become interesting. Ordinary moments of life become extraordinary moments offering us joy and peace. But what practices should be done to achieve this result?
The answer to this question is offered by Zen Priest Shunmyo Masuno. He is a multi-faceted personality. He is the head priest of a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, an award-winning Zen garden designer for clients all over the world, and a professor of environmental design at one of Japan’s leading art schools. He has lectured widely around the world.
He authored a book named ‘Zen: The art of simple living’ in which he offers 100 daily practices for a peaceful life. These are simple but profound practices that can bring us peace in the fast-paced life. He draws his insights from his zen practice and the beautiful gardens he designed. He presents profound truths of Peaceful life through simple and beautiful stories.
Here are 15 pointers derived from this book that direct us towards a peaceful life.
1. Every person has good and bad qualities. Many of us focus on the bad qualities of the other person. Instead of focusing on bad qualities, focus on the good qualities. This improves the quality of relationships.
2. In modern times, we are more interested in the breadth of our social network than depth. But it’s the depth that matters. Only when we take time to know the other person can we understand the person better, and the depth of the relationship grows.
3. To deepen the connection with the other person, think your interaction is precious, and you may never see that person again. Japan has a name for this philosophy named Ichi-go Ichi-e. When we practice this, we tend to give our complete attention to the other person. This makes our interaction a mindful interaction.
4. When you don’t get along well with some people, don’t try too hard to make the relationship work. Just be happy and continue with your work. If you are happy and blossoming, the right people will come to you.
5. Greed is an addictive poison. Buddhist teaching of chisoku helps in dealing with greed. Chisoku means to “be satisfied.” So, when you are dissatisfied with your unfulfilled dreams, ask yourself, “Do I really need these dreams to come true?”
6. Embrace simple living. Simple living means having only what you need and treasuring and loving everything you own. You don’t own things which you don’t care about. You don’t buy things for the sake of buying. You buy only those things which you truly need and love those things.
7. When it comes to eating food, many of us eat in a rush. Zen Buddhism teaches us to eat food with our heart. This means that we should focus only on our meal while we are eating. Savor the food without the distractions of TV or mobile. Enjoy every bite. Enjoy the color and fragrance of your food.
8. The length of our lifespan is determined when we are born. Life is a gift, and it should be used wisely. It does not matter how long we live. What is more important is how wisely and productively we are living our life.
9. When we think about our own mortality, we can achieve more in life. For example, if someone thinks that he has only 6 months to live, he prioritizes his time properly and pursues things that truly matter to him. He lives life intensely and makes the most out of the time. So, the author encourages us to think about our own mortality and live peaceful life more intensely.
10. Time and opportunities are limited. So, make the most out of both time and opportunities by preparing well in advance for opportunities.
11. Integrate nature into your daily lifestyle. This will bring you joy. Walk through a forest or smell a flower or spend time in a garden. Nature teaches us many things, and her presence in life is healing. So, don’t miss out on spending time in nature.
12. Nature teaches us that there is no point in worrying or dwelling on the past. Every day, nature changes. Flowers change. Seasons change. And there is always something new coming tomorrow. Each day brings change and renewal. So, there is no point in dwelling on the past.
13. Many of us are in a mad rush and busy state of affairs. A simple change in our routine can bring us the calmness. Just wake up 15 minutes earlier than your normal wake up time. Use these 15 minutes to relax and enjoy Sunlight or to reflect on a beautiful painting. Use this extra time to calm down and have a relaxed day.
14. Zen monks believe that when they clean the space around them, they clean their minds. They clean every inch of their temple each morning. You can have your own cleaning ritual in the mornings. This ritual helps in cleaning your mind too.
15. When you change the way you eat, it can bring you more energy in a day. Add more vegetables to your diet. This not only brings you more energy but also makes your mind more tranquil.
These are the 15 pointers from this book on Zen.
In this book, the author offers 100 daily practices that can be incorporated into daily living without much effort. They are simple and can be practiced by anyone. They only need mindfulness and small tweaks in our lifestyle. These practices bring calmness and peace in the hectic times of the current day. Check out this beautiful book written from the inner peace of the monk and embrace the 100 practices he recommends.
Wish you and your family peace!
“Those who do not pay attention to their footsteps cannot know themselves, and cannot know where their life is going.”― Shunmyo Mason, Zen: The Art of Simple Living.