The Art of Simple Living | Shunmyō Masuno

Summary of: The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy
By: Shunmyō Masuno


Embark on a journey of inner tranquility and simple living with the enlightening book summary of ‘The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy’ by Shunmyō Masuno. Explore the key highlights and message from the book summary as we delve into principles of Zen Buddhism that can bring harmony and joy to your interpersonal relationships. Uncover valuable insights on cultivating contentment through a minimalistic lifestyle, nurturing vitality through healthier habits and rediscovering the power of nature and art. This inspiring and insightful summary promises to educate and engage the readers, encouraging them to make simple yet effective changes that can enrich their lives.

Transforming Attitudes

The book emphasizes that transforming our attitudes is the key to getting along with people. The author, a Zen gardener, suggests that appreciating a person’s unique qualities is essential to building harmonious relationships. Rather than focusing on their negative traits, we should concentrate on their good qualities and deepen our connection with them. Zen Buddhism teaches a more joyful approach to relationships through the philosophy of “ichi-go ichi-e,” which means that every social encounter is precious and should be treasured. Finally, the author advises that when a connection falters, we should not try too hard to make it work but instead focus on blossoming into happiness, attracting the right people.

Simplicity is the Key

In a world that propagates excessive consumption and greed, Buddhism provides an alternative way of living through the concept of chisoku which means “be satisfied.” The idea is to reject greed and embrace a simpler existence that involves having only what we need, but loving and treasuring everything we own. Living a simple life is different from living a frugal one because it means being content with what we have and not constantly buying more. It involves using what we already have and being imaginative with it, like the Zen gardens in Kyoto that use creative arrangements to evoke the sound of a mountain stream. By embracing simplicity, we can find peace and contentment without spending too much money or causing ourselves unnecessary pain. We should hold up our frustrated hopes and dreams and ask ourselves if we really need them to come true.

Simple Ways to Increase Your Energy

Discover how changing your habits can help you feel more invigorated and vibrant, from going barefoot to reducing meat intake.

Are you feeling run down and lacking energy? Do you wish you could feel more revitalized without having to take a break from your busy schedule? In this book, you’ll learn simple and effective ways to increase your energy levels.

One surprising way to boost your energy is by going barefoot. The practice of monks walking barefoot every day builds up their body’s strength, which helps them avoid getting sick. While it’s not practical to walk around barefoot all the time, wearing thong sandals can still help stimulate pressure points in your feet that connect to your internal organs, leading to increased vitality.

In addition to changing your footwear, adjusting your diet can also have a significant impact on your energy levels. By consuming fewer animal products and focusing on vegetables, you’ll feel more peaceful and clear-headed, and your skin will appear healthier. Increasing your vegetable intake gradually and making them the star of your plate at least one day a week can be an excellent first step.

If you’re still looking for ways to boost your vitality, try doing more instead of less. Instead of simply buying a cup of coffee on your way to work, try making your coffee from scratch using firewood you’ve gathered and boiled water from a fire that you’ve made yourself. This will require more effort, but each step of the process will invigorate you and leave you feeling more fulfilled.

By implementing these small changes into your lifestyle, you can increase your energy levels and feel more vibrant and alive.

Changing Your Morning Routine

Adjusting your alarm clock and devoting time to calm activities like cleaning and tea can calm your mind and heart, making you less busy overall.

Do you always feel like you’re too busy to do anything? Has “I’m fine, just very busy!” become your automatic response to “how are you?” If so, it may be time to make a change – and it can all start with your alarm clock.

According to this book, simple changes to your morning routine can bring calm and focus to the rest of your day. Though you may think your busy schedule is the problem, the Japanese character for busy is actually made up of symbols meaning “lose” and “heart.” In other words, when you say you’re too busy, you’re really saying your heart is too full to take on anything else.

That’s where waking up a little earlier comes in. Setting your alarm just 15 minutes earlier each morning can give you time for a peaceful cup of tea or coffee, maybe even near an open window where you can hear the birds greeting the sun. For those 15 minutes, you can free your heart from busyness and start your day with a sense of serenity.

Cleaning your space can also have a calming effect, borrowing from the example of Buddhist monks who cleanse their surroundings each morning. Though their spaces are already clean, they believe that the act of cleaning clears and enlightens their minds. By focusing on small things like your shoe collection, you can bring this same mindfulness and orderliness to your daily life.

Overall, the message here is that small adjustments to your morning routine can have a powerful effect on the rest of your day. By starting your day with calm and purpose, you can free your heart from busyness and make the most of each moment.

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