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At the age of thirty, Kaoru Nonomura left his family, his girlfriend, and his job as a designer in Tokyo to undertake a year of ascetic training at Eiheiji, one of the most rigorous Zen training temples in Japan. This book is Nonomura's recollection of his experiences. He skillfully describes every aspect of training, including how to meditate, how to eat, how to wash, even how to use the toilet, in a way that is easy to understand no matter how familiar a reader is with Zen Buddhism. This first-person account also describes Nonomura's struggles in the face of beatings, hunger, exhaustion, fear, and loneliness, the comfort he draws from his friendships with the other trainees, and his quiet determination to give his life spiritual meaning.
After writing Eat Sleep Sit, Kaoru Nonomura returned to his normal life as a designer, but his book has maintained its popularity in Japan, selling more than 100,000 copies since its first printing in 1996. Beautifully written, and offering fascinating insight into a culture of hardships that few people could endure, this is a deeply personal story that will appeal to all those with an interest in Zen Buddhism, as well as to anyone seeking spiritual growth.
Born in 1959, Kaoru Nonomura traveled widely in Asia as a university student, and upon graduation began to work as a designer in Tokyo. At the age of thirty, he decided to put his career on hold to spend a year as a trainee monk at Eiheiji, a monastery famed for its rigid discipline. Twelve months later, he returned to his design job, and it was during his daily commute on a crowded train that he began to jot down his recollections of his Eiheiji experience. These notes eventually became Eat Sleep Sit, the author's only book.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: The End and the Beginning Resolve ..11 Jizo Cloister ..17 Dragon Gate ..25 Main Gate ..29 Temporary Quarters ..34 Lavatory ..38 Facing the Wall ..46 Buddha Bowl ..47 Evening Service ..53 Evening Meal ..56 Night Sitting ..61
PART TWO: Etiquette Is Zen Morning Service ...69 Morning Meal ..74 Cleaning the Corridors ... 81 Dignified Dress ... 84 Washing the Face ..89 Verses ..96 Noon ..97 Stick ..103
PART THREE: Alone in the Freezing Dark Entering the Hall ..111 Monks' Hall ..115 Common Quarters ..120 Wake-up Bell ..129 Bell Tower ..133 Self-reflection ..143 Food Server ..150 Monks' Food ..153 Shaving the Head ..159 Daikan ..164 Hunger ..169
PART FOUR: The Passage of Time Escape ..177 Registration Ceremony ..180 First Bath ..185 Beginning Intensive Training ..189 Manual Labor ..195 Penance ..201 Main Lecture ..207 Transfer ..211
PART FIVE: The Source of the Warmth of Life New Job ..219 Sales ..223 Distribution of Goods ..229 Guest Pavilion ..233 Inspection ..238 Washrags ..242 Ending Intensive Training ..247
PART SIX: The Colors of the Peak, the Echo in the Valley Attendant to the Director ..253 Conference Room ..256 In Attendance ..259 Morning Session ..263 Incense Bearer ..267 Preparations for Winter ..271 Intensive Sitting ..275 Year-end Cleaning ..280 New Year's Day ..283 New Arrivals ..286 Just Sit ..290 Departure Survey ..294 Leaving ..300
Afterword to the Japanese First Edition ..311 Afterword to the Japanese Paperback Edition ..315 Notes ..323