Di­gested read

‘Have a hair­cut on the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th and 29th of every month. Un­less you are bald’

The Guardian - G2 - - Arts - By John Crace

Ti­tle A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind Au­thor Shoukei Matsumoto Pub­lisher Pen­guin Price £4.99

Ja­panese peo­ple take clean­ing very se­ri­ously. When we have fin­ished clean­ing ev­ery­thing in the house, we go back to the be­gin­ning and start again. Clean­ing isn’t about clean­ing. It’s about fill­ing in time use­fully be­fore you die. Bud­dhist monks have a motto: “Live to clean and clean to live.”

Be­fore you start to clean, you must get rid of all your rub­bish. Re­mem­ber, though, noth­ing starts out as rub­bish. Rub­bish only be­comes rub­bish when peo­ple treat it as rub­bish. So learn to re­spect your rub­bish. First, try to find a place for it where you think it will be happy and then tell it how sad you are to be say­ing good­bye to it.

Clean­ing must be started first thing in the morn­ing, be­fore you have got out of bed. Oth­er­wise your feet may make marks on the floor and you will have to spend the whole day chas­ing af­ter your­self. Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to in­sects. Monks value every life equally and it is vi­tally im­por­tant that you re­house ants rather than brush them aside or spray them with re­pel­lant. Re­mem­ber also that once your house is spot­less, there will be no food in­side for any in­sect that hap­pens to stray in­side and it might die of star­va­tion. There­fore it is an act of kind­ness to leave direc­tions to the near­est food bank for them.

Once you have fin­ished clean­ing the kitchen, move on to an­other area. If a monk hap­pens to be clean­ing where you want to clean, then you can ei­ther kneel down be­side him and start clean­ing in par­al­lel or go and clean some­where else. Clean­ing re­quires your full con­cen­tra­tion at all times, so main­tain con­stant si­lence. Above all, do not switch on the To­day pro­gramme as you are sure to hear some­one wang­ing on about Toby Young. This is guar­an­teed to put you in a tem­per and make you start throw­ing things that you will then have to clean up.

You will need to make sure you have the right clothes and equip­ment be­fore you start clean­ing. Ja­panese monks dress in samue robes and wear a towel round their head. You should prob­a­bly do the same, though it is equally ef­fec­tive if you hold the towel in your hands. A good dust­pan and brush ush are also ad­vis­able. Don’t for­get that at clean­ing does not end at your front door. It also ex­tends to your gar­den. One ne piece of grass in the wrong place is symp­toymp­tomatic of an un­tidy mind and can an ruin your en­tire life. In au­tumn, monks nks stand out­side all day wait­ing to o catch leaves fall­ing off trees.

Most peo­ple choose to start by clean­ing the kitchen. Be­gin with dirty plates and then move e on to sur­faces. Only when you are sat­is­fied the room is spot­less ss should you at­tempt the floor. When you pol­ish the floor, you are pol­ishol­ish­ing your heart and mind. The toi­let oi­let is a room that de­mands the high­est hest stan­dards of clean­li­ness and you ou must be on full alert at all times. The slight­est lapse in con­cen­tra­tion can lead to an un­sightly build up of limescale. Also keep an eye out for mould. The best way to pre­vent mould is to not keep things that get mouldy.

A com­mon mis­take that peo­ple make is that they for­get to clean their light­ing. Dust can ac­cu­mu­late around light­bulbs and darken the room. And a dark room is symp­to­matic of a dark soul. When clean­ing light­bulbs, al­ways make sure they are turned off first oth­er­wise they can burn your fin­gers and ex­plode. Light­bulb clean­ing should be con­ducted on the 3rd, 8th, 13th, 18th, 23rd and 28th days of every month.

Once you have fin­ished your first round of daily clean­ing, it is time for you to move on to your wash­ing. Un­sightly stains on your clothes are a sign of a trou­bled mind. When­ever pos­si­ble, al­ways wear white cloth­ing as these show up stains the best. There is noth­ing worse than the knowl­edge that you may have missed a blem­ish on a dark pair of jeans. Once your clothes have dried, make sure you iron them be­fore putting them away. Oth­er­wise they will be all creased when you come to wear them next. Novice monks have been known know to hy­per­ven­ti­late with ex­cite­ment ex­cite dur­ing these tasks, so con­cen­trate c on keep­ing yo your breath­ing reg­u­lar at all al times.

Dirt can also build up on yo your body, so it is im­por­tant to h have a full body wash at leas least 12 times a day. Start with your f face and work down­wards, pay­ing spe­cial s at­ten­tion to the ar­eas betw be­tween your toes that are prone to fu fun­gal in­fec­tions. Round off your ablu­tions ablu­tio by clean­ing your teeth. On the 4th, 9th, 14th, 19th, 24th and 29th days of every month go and have a hair­cut. Un Un­less you are bald.

You are n now the per­fect you. Om. Di­gested rea read, di­gested: Zen and the Art of House­hold House Main­te­nance.

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