Adding meaning to daily chores (Buddhist approach) 🧹

Finding some inspiration to carry out the mundane daily chores around the house is a tough ask. Inspiration just like motivation is needed every once in a while in small doses to keep the spirits up. And one such small and effective source is a book I spied called “A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind” by Shoukei Matsumoto. It’s a second hand book that I chanced upon while browsing the books shops at Church Street in Bangalore.

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto

A monk’s life and lifestyle are poles apart from the norm, but the 129 pages explains beautifully both the why and the how aspect of cleaning. For me the why was the most important part✨. Once you find meaning in the mundane, it suddenly doesn’t seem like a chore, but rather a purposeful assignment that adds value to our being.

“A monk’s day beings with cleaning….We don’t do this because it’s dirty or messy. We do it to eliminate the gloom in our heart.”

The simple language and the delightful illustrations ensure that you breeze through the book in one go. You feel a sense of calm and ready to do some cleaning after the read😀. The book has that magical effect. The author goes into details of cleaning our house, surroundings and self.

Here are five of my favourite takeaways from the book:

[1] “Cleaning is carried out not because there is dirt, but because it’s an ascetic practice to cultivate the mind.”

[2] Buddhism prohibits killing other living things including insects. “Cleaning up properly after each meal is thus the first step towards abstaining from killing insects. It’s important to create an environment that doesn’t allow insects to breed.”

[3] “Use anytime during the cooking process to wash dirtied dishes and tidy up the kitchen.” It becomes really difficult to do all the dishes together after a meal. It’s just too much work and the feeling of lethargy creeps in. If I somehow manage to get some cleaning done during the cooking process, then maybe there is hope of a clean sink. This is one area I need to work on and it can make my life so much easier.

[4] “Rather than chasing after the new, live a life in which you use the same objects for a very long time. If you do this, you will naturally be able to care for and treasure the people around you as well.”

[5] I really like the part where he talks about experiencing the seasons. You must mark the changing of seasons with change in clothes, the decor in home (like flowers), the book says. “Get up and open window. Take in the fresh air that blows through. The smell of the wind changes from season to season. The sounds of insects and the songs of birds tell us what season it is.Day in, day out, time marches forward and the seasons slowly shift.” I have forgotten that the nature tells us when the seasons are changing; my seasons are dictated by the school calendar; a complete disconnect with nature. Nature is something that seem to come into view only during the holidays !?

“Your everyday domestic chores will become a way to clean your heart.” Of course, having less stuff translates to less time cleaning 😀. The author talks about this aspect also.

It’s a beautiful little book and worth your time !!

Till next post, tale care !!


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