Shoukei Matsumoto’s book, A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind (2011,) provides spiritual insights into the approach to cleaning and maintenance in a Zen monastery. These practices not only align with Buddhist principles but also form an integral part of meditation and mindfulness.
Matsumoto emphasizes that cleaning the home shouldn’t be considered a burdensome task to be hurriedly completed. Instead, it can be a peaceful and fulfilling practice that purifies and nurtures the mind. It is an ascetic and transformative endeavor that restores our inner being. Matsumoto says, “We sweep dust to remove our worldly desires. We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments.” Each clean surface reflects our inner radiance, shining brightly.
Buddhist spirituality extends beyond formal religious rituals and encompasses everyday actions. Simple tasks are seen as sacred rituals, providing opportunities for cultivating mindfulness, compassion, and presence. By clearing away the dust obstructing our vision, we uncover the pure essence of things: “Nothing starts out as rubbish. Things become rubbish when they are treated as rubbish.”
This widely popular book in Japan offers practical cleaning tips and delves into the Buddhist perspective on life. It challenges the wastefulness prevalent in modern society and advocates for a deep reverence towards spaces and objects, highlighting the profound humanity within. Matsumoto, a Buddhist monk at Komyoji Temple in Kamiyacho, Tokyo, shares insights into monastic life and introduces various Zen concepts. Additionally, the book provides guidance on bringing the tranquility and serenity of a Japanese temple into ordinary homes. It reminds us that even in the simplest tasks, such as cleaning, enlightenment can bloom, dispelling the darkness in our hearts.