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