Minimalism and decluttering are increasingly popular these days. Whilst it’s clear this is just another fad for some to enjoy, with others it’s about ancient tradition.
In Japan, cleanliness is a way of life. And Shoukei Matsumoto’s 2018 work aims to make us all appreciate simple pleasures whilst getting good at keeping stuff clean. Or else!
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind
"When you visit a [Buddhist] temple, you feel a blissful tension in the tranquil space. The gardens are well tended and spotless, without a single leaf on the ground. Inside the main temple hall, you naturally sit tall and feel alert. These things serve to calm the mind ... Your everday domestic chores will become a way to clean your heart. This will improve the condition not just of your own mind, but of the minds of the people around you. I hope readers will discover that daily housework is an opportunity to contemplate the self."
Growing up in the Wapojif household, Mr. Wapojif came to believe household chores are a bloody annoyance.
He’s come to view it all as therapeutic. With his favourite environmentally friendly Ecover cleaning products in tow, he’s a cleaning demon leaving his flat sparkling and fresh. Go team Wapojif!
This has come about due to a natural swing in that direction as ageing kicked in, but also due to reading a lot of Japanese literature.
And there’s something very real at work here. For many, household chores are just that—chores. For Shoukei Matsumoto the Shin-Buddhist monk, it’s about finding peace of mind.
This concise little tome is here to help you find it, too. It was a bestseller over in Nippon.
He argues cleaning is an act of mindfulness—it roots you in the now.
His message is humanistic and a call for collective awareness. Existence isn’t an individual endeavour, we’re all connected and should think of others and care for the environment.
And so he goes about explaining:
- How to clean.
- What with.
- The planning involved.
- How fewer possessions will unclutter your mind.
All of the above invoke simplicity. It also encourages you to treasure possessions, rather than hoarding them and wanting more.
Another example of this is the Beauty of Everyday Things by Yanagi Sōetsu—the philosopher argued in favour of the therapeutic beauty in mundane objects.
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind is a lovely little book—calming. At Professional Moron, we’re fast approaching an anti-wealth stance as it is.
So many problems in the world created through the arrogance of wealth. Greed and the lust for individualistic fortune to get a raging ego going.
And then there are those who propel that push for greed along through mindless consumerism.
But here we are wiith a polite and peaceful anti-consumerist message wrapped up in a diminutive book about cleaning stuff.
No, Matsumoto’s work isn’t a polemic calling for a revolution. It exists to provide you with some pleasant hints and tips on how to lead a more rewarding life.
And you can do that through cleaning the very things around you. Neat, huh?
Minimalism & Moolah
Minimalism is booming (although greed and excess remain just as popular), with some folks downsizing to smaller houses, selling off spare cars, or hacking off irrelevant limbs (that last bit is probably not true).
All in the name of uncluttering minds—as well as reducing environmental impact.
Yes, it’s a fad. Look at Marie Kondo (KonMari), who’s perfecting it as a professional organising consultant. She’s a big hit, although it sort of helps she’s an attractive lady and easy to market—slap her onto a book cover and max out the kawaii cute culture craze.
She’s big on methodology and looks to “spark joy”. She’s a very active celebrity presence, though, and a wealthy one at that.
Matsumoto isn’t bothered about fame or fortune. He normally turns down requests for interviews on TV.
He’s part of Komyoji Temple in Tokyo. Twice monthly he provides an open invitation for strangers to join him to help with his cleaning.
Someone always turns up (once including a CEO with all his employees) and they sweep and polish, then have a cup of tea and a brief chat—Teaism and The Book of Tea.
Capitalist Japan remains at odds with its traditions—the country has a long history of championing the simple things in life for peace of mind.
But capitalist excess brings with it the allure of fancy stuff, which we think most people find too appealing to ignore.
And you can argue wealth buys you a nice teapot and a Ferrari F40. But that’s not the point. The idea is the Ferrari is a mindless extravagance that brings out the worst in people.
The teapot? Well, have a spot of herbal beverages and take enjoyment in the quiet around you.
Unless someone with an ego blasts past your house in a Ferrari. Then you can just go off and do the dishes.