The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy
By Shunmyo Masuno
Penguin Books 2019; 224 pp., $20 (cloth)
Shunmyo Masuno is the head priest of a 450-year-old Soto Zen temple in Japan, a professor of environmental design at one of Japan’s leading art schools, and a Zen gardener with clients across the globe. In The Art of Simple Living, he offers pithy tips on how to increase our feelings of well-being by making some seemingly small changes in how we approach life. To start with, he says, “Making time for not thinking about anything. That is the first step toward creating a simple life.” Later, he goes on to suggest “Make someone happy,” and “Do not divide into good and bad.” Many of Masuno’s teachings focus on connecting with nature, such as “Seek out the sunset,” and “Have a conversation with a garden.” Others emphasize zazen in myriad forms, such as “Try a standing practice,” in which he suggests, among other things, meditating on the subway as you commute to work.