After this past year, I know many people are feeling an increased sense of stress and anxiety. We dream of feeling peaceful and calm. Thus, this is the perfect time to introduce you to Zen Wisdom for the Anxious : Simple Advice from a Zen Buddhist Monk.
Thanks to Tuttle Publishing, who sent us a copy of Zen Wisdom for the Anxious to read and review in exchange for our honest review. I was delighted when it arrived at our door and I immediately set to starting it.
This hard cover pocket book is 224 pages of wisdom to ponder. Written by Shinsuke Hosokawa, the head priest of Ryuunji Temple, in Setagaya ward, Tokyo. A little younger than me, he’s graduated university and then spent 9 years studying Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Kyoto. Believe it or not, he also coaches actors who appear as Zen monks in TV drama; that’s a job that I didn’t know existed before now, although it does make perfect sense.
Treasure every moment, for it will not come again.
There is no time like now.
My life is precious as it is.
Do not become too fixated on one thing: Let your heart roam free.
Zen Wisdom for the Anxious has the following content areas:
- What does it mean to “live”?
- Happiness is right in front of you
A Year of Zen Wisdom
As you can see, the curated sayings follow the seasons. In fact, there are 52 pieces of wisdom in this book, 1 for each week of the year. Initially, I read through the entire book to get a feel for it.
After reading in full, I would suggest going back through the book – pick the spot in the calendar that is now, and find the corresponding quote in the book.
Each week, read a Zen Buddhist saying and take it to heart. Write it out. Put it up on your wall or desk where you can see it and think about it daily.
How can you be more zen-like in your own life?
How can you find the beauty in the everyday and become more at peace with yourself in this seemingly chaotic world?
One of my favourite passages is:
The mountains are my happy place, and where Phil and I were married. It’s easy to sit in peace by a waterfall or stream and forget about the world’s troubles when surrounded by such beauty.
Each week starts with a saying verse in both Japanese and English. The verse in English is short, but written over two pages, giving plenty of white space in the form of zen peace.
The following 2-page spread is further explanation in English to help your thoughts and meditations on the way to the ultimate goal of enlightenment. The explanations are not cumbersome; only a couple of short paragraphs.
This book purports to give:
“the knowledge needed to live life with a positive outlook”
Which, of course, is easier said than done! But it’s a good goal, and one more people, I think, need to work towards. With all of the rush-rush of society and work and household tasks that never seem to end, there always seems to be multiple things in my mind.
What I need to do instead of thinking about all those things that need to be done that are stressful, perhaps I should instead focus on the fact that I am thankful that I have work. Instead of stressing over a messy home, I do feel thankful we have a home (and I am trying to find ways to keep things more in-check, which makes me more calm, too).
Simplicity of Design
The illustrations throughout this little book are simple and appropriate to the context. They are done with a wood-block printing style that shows a slight roughness around the edges as no two prints will be alike. Some are done in reverse with the page black and the illustration in white. They do not take away from the meanings, but add a subtleness that helps the mind focus.
I love this little book. The sayings are simple but relatable, yet deep.
Keep coming back as over the next few months I’ll be sharing many more books to help with calm and understanding.
If you’re interested in purchasing Zen Wisdom for the Anxious, it’s available through:
More Japanese Calm:
Zen Wisdom for the Anxious Review