A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind

We have returned home to Colorado, after three months of travel.

Our house, and my studio, have been closed for three months, and have required lots of cleaning and dusting.

We do not use a maid or a cleaning service, on purpose.
We do all our own cleaning as part of our practice of mindfulness and contemplation.
It is also a good way to stay fit and active in daily life.

But I have to admit that I have found myself a bit impatient.
Less happy about cleaning and more wanting to be done and to see the house shiny and clean again.

So I read this little inspirational book called, “A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind.”

It says:
“A monk’s day begins with cleaning.
We sweep the temple grounds and gardens and polish the main temple hall.
We do not do it because it is messy or dirty.
We do it to eliminate the gloom in our hearts.

When you visit a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple, you will feel the bliss and tranquility of the space.
The gardens are manicured without a single leaf on the ground and the halls are polished and well tended.

We sweep dust to remove worldly desires.
We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments.

The time we spend carefully cleaning every nook and cranny of the temple grounds becomes extremely fulfilling.

We live simply and take the time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each and every moment.

It is not just monks who need to live this way.
Everyone in today’s busy world needs to do it.

Life is a daily training ground.

If you live mindlessly and carelessly, your mind will be soiled.
If you try to live consciously, it will grow pure again.
Your heart will be pure and the world will look brighter.

When your world is bright, you can be kinder to others.

The Zen sect of Buddhism is renowned for its cleaning practices, but cleaning is greatly valued in Japanese Buddhism as a way to ‘Cultivate The Mind.’

It is not hard.
You only need to see cleaning as a metaphor for cleaning up your mind and heart.

Sweeping dust in your house becomes sweeping the dust off your heart.
Every domestic chore becomes a way to clear your mind, clean your heart of impurities, in order to improve your condition and help the people around you.

I hope you will discover cleaning and daily housework as an opportunity to contemplate the self.”

Shoukei Matsumoto
Komyoji Temple Monk

Many years ago, before meeting my husband Jules, I contemplated joining a Zen Monastery in the San Francisco hills.

I was disillusioned with life in my society, with its meaningless pursuits, empty ambitions and goals, and shallow pleasures.
I wanted deep joys, a clear mind and a clean heart, and most of all, I wanted the ultimate goal – Full Enlightenment, the release from the realm of human suffering, the removal of the veil of illusions.

But life had other plans for me.
I met Jules and together we established our own Zen Retreat in New Zealand.

Now that we sold that retreat, in order to free more time to be able to travel more, we can still enjoy the benefits of this way of life while at our property in Colorado.
We have acres of land and a house and a studio to clean and keep, as a way to live more mindfully.

Wishing you a wonderful day full of mindfulness and a clean heart,

2 Comments on “A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind”

  1. Your soulful and insightful thoughts continue to guide and inspire us Tali – thank you for the continued blessing of heart and spirit. Much Love/Denise

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