Book Bits

Disorder in Your Mind Shows in Your Feet – Shunmyo Masuno 

The Art of Simple Living is handbook for the paring down of details of your daily existence to the most nourishing basics. Written by Shunmyo Masuno, a Japanese Soto Zen priest who is primarily known for his Zen garden design, the little book offers 100 daily practices to cultivate calm and joy. Below is the fourth gem of wisdom, that we line up our shoes when we take them off; a simple gesture to set up our intentions for going further.


Line up your shoes when you take them off.

This will beautify your life.

It has long been said that you can tell a lot about a household by looking at its entrance hall, especially in Japanese homes, where we remove our shoes upon entering. If the footwear is perfectly lined up, or if it is all ajumble—you can know the state of mind of those who live there by just this one detail. 

 In Zen Buddhism we have a saying that means “Look carefully at what is under your own feet.” It has a literal meaning, but it also suggests that those who do not pay attention to their footsteps cannot know themselves, and cannot know where their life is going. This may sound like an exaggeration, but such a small thing really can have a tremendous influence on the way you live. 

When you come home, take off your shoes and line them up neatly by the front door. Just this one thing. It takes only three seconds. 

Yet by cultivating this habit, everything about your life will be inexplicably sharper and more orderly. It will beautify your life. This is human nature. 

First, try turning your attention to your feet. 

By lining up your shoes, you are taking the next step toward where you are going. 


Shunmyo Masuno
From: The Art of Simple Living


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