Reflection on de-cluttering my room

On my way to my achievement of a Zen household, turning theory into practice, I found a new lease on life. At first it was overwhelming, I felt like there was so much stuff in my room I couldn’t even think. I wanted to work on my project for class, but I didn’t even have the room to do it in! I was trapped by my own devices. I knew that I had to let go of all the clutter in my room and then I would finally be able to clear my mind. The reason I decided to focus on clutter culture and the juxtaposition with Asian cultures was because, I have spent most of my life crowded by stuff I didn’t need. I always felt as if I had some attachment to these inanimate objects. So, I found solace in learning about minimalist cultures and in turn learned how to quiet my mind through my physical space.

I started with my clothes. I have always had an abundance of clothes, which was the first mission – to pick them all up off of my floor. I then sifted through them, and made a giveaway pile which consisted of anything I have not worn in the past three months. I gave these clothes to friends as well as donated to the free store and goodwill. I also took a minute to leave my room and do my laundry while I thought about how much more calm I was even just after cleansing my room a little bit. Then, I went through all the trash, and threw it away. After that, I moved to the objects and nick-knacks I’ve held onto throughout the years. I spent time meditating on which ones helped me feel spiritually enlightened, and others which had some significance but weren’t as significant to feeling at home in my space. That was about the time I burned some incense and sat on my bed while I breathed deeply and let myself take in the new more barren look of my room. I felt something I have not ever felt… I was feeling like I was reborn. I no longer was an extension of my room; my room was an extension of me. I was then finally able to successfully be at peace with myself and my surroundings. I was no longer a prisoner to my belongings, but now a guard for my new found territory.

Things often seen in a Japanese home

JAPANESE ROOM DESIGN The Japanese room is known for its clean lines and uncluttered look. These JOJG articles discuss the sophisticated aesthetics behind that minimalist appearance.

TATEGU The word tategu refers to the sliding doors and windows in a Japanese house. These articles concern subjects such as shoji screens, fusuma doors, and ranma transoms. For example, did you know that a shoji screen is NOT made of rice paper? Read these articles to learn more.

TATAMI Japanese house design employs a module based on the tatami mat flooring system. Traditional tatami mats are 90x180cm. The floor plans of tatami rooms are standardized and come in sizes such as “6-mat” or 8-mat” arrangements. These articles also address other flooring systems such as the modern bamboo flooring seen in the West.

TOKONOMA The tokonoma alcove is a spot where artwork, family treasures, and seasonal decorations are displayed. It serves in a role similar to a Western home’s fireplace mantle. Ikebana, bonsai, and hanging scrolls are some of the items displayed.

JAPANESE FURNITURE Japanese homes are famous for their clean, uncluttered lines, and their general LACK of furniture. Even so, most traditional houses have a few choice pieces of furniture such as tansu, hibachi, and kotatsu. These JOJG articles include information about some of the modern Japanese-style furniture that is popular in the West.

FUTON Futons are the traditional bed system used in Japan. Futon beds consist of a futon mattress and a quilt-like cover called a kake-buton. These articles are primarily about Japanese futon beds, not their Western counterparts.

JAPANESE ANTIQUES Western enthusiasts are increasingly interested in Asian antiques and Asian interior design. These JOJG articles concern collector items such as Japanese art, Japanese pottery, and antique Japanese tansu.

HOUSEHOLD FURNISHINGS These articles are about about items that make excellent Japanese interior design gifts. Subjects include Asian-styled placemats, wall hangings, rice-paper blinds, ikebana vases, and Japanese tea cups. Are you interested in Japanese home decoration? These articles are for you.

JAPANESE TRADITIONAL ART In Japan, the traditional approach to art is strongly linked to function and craftsmanship. This goes beyond the display of traditional art objects such as paintings and pottery. Look closely at a Japanese house and you will notice beautiful patterns and creative expressions incorporated into almost every form of everyday object, from kimono

Japanese Symbolism

These symbols offer these meanings when held in the hands of Japanese Kannon for Buddhist deities are associated with specific symbolic and ritual objects.

The Blue Lotus is a great symbol for the exact way Buddhist teachings translate into the simplicity of the Japanese interior design, which reflects how it bows away from ritualistic accumulation.

十方浄土に往生する. Rebirth in the Pure Land. The blue lotus symbolizes wisdom and the victory of the spirit over the senses. Monju Bosatsu (the voice of Buddhist law and the personification of wisdom) is closely associated with the blue lotus (atop which is often a sutra), as is Hannya Bosatsu. The lotus is a symbol of purity and enlightenment, and in all Buddhist traditions, the deities are typically shown sitting or standing atop a lotus or holding a lotus. Although a beautiful flower, the lotus grows out of the mud at the bottom of a pond. Buddhist deities are enlightened beings who grew out of the mud of the material world. Like the lotus, they are beautiful and pure even though they grew up in the “muddy” material world. The open blossom represents the possibility of universal salvation for all sentient beings. The lotus is one of the most widely known symbols of Buddhism. It is also one of the signs on the foot of a Buddha (see Footprints of Buddha for details) and the principal attribute of Kannon (Lord of Compassion). Nyoirin Kannon (an esoteric form of Kannon) is often depicted touching a lotus throne, which represents a vow to save those in the Asura realm, and holding a lotus bud, which represents a vow to save those in the human realm.

An axe 官難を除き平和をもたらす.
Wards off calamity; helps to achieve harmony. It represents the cutting away of ignorance, and is often held by Japan’s wrathful Myō-ō deities to symbolize the chopping away of all obstacles that block the path to enlightenment.

The reason I incorporated mirrors as windows in my design was the symbolism that they come with in not only our culture but also in Chinese as well as Japanese.

Mirror- 智恵の眼. Draws forth intelligence to liberate the mind. It also reflects the lesson that life is illusion, for the mirror does not represent reality — it merely provides a reflection of reality. The mirror is thus a metaphor for the unenlightened mind deluded by mere appearances. Also see the famous Buddhist parable from China known in Japan as Enkō Sokugetsu 猿猴捉月. Translated as “Catching the Moon’s Reflection,” it tells a similar story of the unenlightened mind deluded by appearances.

However, not all the symbolism lies in the hands of these deities.

Bonsai trees hold a strong meaning in Japanese culture, comparable to that of the Chinese penjing.

 The Buddhist monks that brought bonsai growing to Japan viewed these trees as a symbol for harmony between nature, man and soul. With that, the form of the trees also changed. Gone were the bizarre and grotesque shapes of twisting serpents and fierce dragons. From then on the bonsai were all about harmony, peace and balance. They started to represent all that was good.

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Koi fish are also of a large significance to the Japanese

Koi Fish meaning in Japan is good fortune or luck they also are associated with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose, the Koi fish symbolize good luck, abundance and perseverance. Symbolic in Buddhism is to represent courage. Today the fish are considered to be symbolic of advancement materially and spiritually.

According to Japanese legend, if a koi fish succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would be transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.

Another legend states that the koi climb the waterfall bravely, and if they are caught, they face their death on the cutting board bravely like a samuri. In Japan, the word koi refers primarily to the wild variety. As a result, many of the country’s symbolic meanings for the fish refer to the wild variety instead of the fish species as a whole. One of the primary reasons the fish is symbolic in Japanese culture is because it is known for swimming upstream no matter what the conditions are. These fish are even said to swim up waterfalls. This is viewed as an absolute show of power because they will continue to swim upstream as if on a mission. They cannot be distracted or deterred by anything. Koi’s swimming downstream are considered bad luck.

The Japanese flag is a reflection of the metaphor for a rising sun, a postmark of the cultures tradition and mythology.

The Japanese flag depicts a red disc, representing the rising sun, against a white background. This, of course, is a symbol of Japan’s strong connection throughout the ages to the sun – even Japan’s name for itself, “Nihon”, translates to “origin of the sun”. This connection is obviously partially due to the lack of any land anywhere near to the east of Japan, but there are also strong mythological ties, and the emperor of Japan was thought to be a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

Kimono’ (‘ki’ = ‘wear’, ‘mono’ = ‘thing’) is the word used to describe what has become known as the traditional dress of Japan. However, there are many different types of kimono. The type of kimono you wear identifies a person’s age, sex, class, the season, the occasion, as well as personal taste or the lack thereof.

This next part is from a book I read called Symbols of Japan by Merrily Baird.

Symbols are a large part of Japanese culture. Designs on kimono, including family crests, are often crucial to understanding the occasion where the garment would have been worn, by whom and at what time of the year.

Butterflies- The Japanese view butterflies as souls of the living and the dead. They are considered symbols of joy and longevity. 

Cranes in Japanese textiles generally represent longevity and good fortune. They are most closely associated with Japanese New Year and wedding ceremonies – for example the crane is often woven into a wedding kimono or obi.

Out of the many shapes, animals and works of art created by origami (Japanese paper folding), the crane is produced most often. It is customary within Japanese culture to fold one thousand paper cranes when making a special wish. Giant colorful necklaces of cranes are a common sight outside Japanese shrines and temples.

Chinese Symbolism

The Transmission of the Lamp “Lamp” in the title refers to “dharma” (teachings of the Buddha). A total of 1701 biographies are listed in the book. Volumes 1 to 3 are devoted to the history of Indian buddhism, and the history of buddhism in China starts in chapter 4 with Bodhidharma.

The lamp is also in reference to the reason I chose to make my project a lamp to shed light on the teachings and rituals of each culture. As well as the fact that the lantern takes an irreplaceable role in Chinese culture.

Made of paper, the lantern, called lampion here, is the main focus of attention of the celebration as it symbolizes the wish for a bright future.

In addition, the Chinese believe that while red is a symbol of happiness, gold is a symbol of wealth. So, it is understandable that Chinese New Year ornaments like lanterns are artistically designed with a bold red background embellished by a gold motif.

The color red is also a prominent symbol of the Chinese culture. Not only is it the color of the National flag rather it manifests itself in various ways in the lives of the Chinese people and has a deep symbolic meaning to it. For the Chinese the color red symbolizes good luck and happiness. This is why we find the color overwhelming the scenery on special occasions and festivals such as the Chinese New Year. It is also used to ward off evil spirits and is a large part of a Chinese household.

Chopsticks bring about a form of etiquette which differs from region to region.

for example; You must not stick the chopsticks directly into the rice bowl. This symbolizes that a family member has just recently died.  Compliance with these rules sometimes signals a person’s status, culture, and family education to others.

Another Chinese symbol would be the yin-yang symbol.

Yin and yang are actually complementary, not opposing, forces, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in Western cultures.

The dragon is also an integral part of the Chinese culture.

The people of China have a long held belief that they are descendants of the dragon, a tradition that is firmly embedded in their culture and one that is encountered across all aspects of Chinese society and in the minds of its people.

The Chinese knot is a symbol for physically manifesting their wishes and hope for good luck. Each one by the way it is made and knotted will represent a different wish or hope.

 The intricately and exquisitely worked Chinese knots have been used as a good-luck charm for many centuries. Their different images and knot workings convey different messages and wishes.

Every basic knot is named after either their inner meaning or outer form. It requires two or more cords to arrange and tangle into different knots. There are about eleven basic types of knotwork, and the more complex knotworks are constructed from combining or repeating the basic ones. By combining or arranging the different knotworks into various and auspicious patterns, the traditional Chinese knot finally comes into being, and conveys the wishes that the artisan wants to extend, such as happiness, longevity, joy, luck and so on. The one major rule of the knots is that all the knots must be tied using only one thread. When the knots are finishes, they should be double-layered and look symmetrical from both front and back.

The most commonly used material for making Chinese knots is silk threads. Chinese knots come in a variety of colors and shapes. The popular colors are gold, green, black or blue, however, the most commonly used is always red, which is the symbol of prosperity and luck in Chinese culture. As for the shapes of Chinese knots, you can often see shapes of flower, bird, fruit and animal. These traditional decorative images are considered to be able to drive away evil spirits and act as good-luck charm for the people who wear the knots.


Chinese Living

Most Chinese homes do not have art on the walls, but a refrigerator is considered a piece of furniture and will be found in the dining room!

The Chinese also have an affinity for Kung fu

Everything I have learned about the Chinese culture has lead back to Buddhism and Taoism! Even certain types of Kung Fu like and also the meditation of growing small tree sculptures represented as penjing in china as apposed to bonsai in japan.

the concept of Penjing seeks to capture the essence and spirit of nature through contrasts. Philosophically, it is influenced by the principles of Taoism, specifically the concept of Yin and Yang: the idea of the universe as governed by two primal forces, opposing but complementary. Some of the contrasting concepts used in penjing include portrayal of “dominance and subordination, emptiness (void) and substance, denseness and sparseness, highness and lowness, largeness and smallness, life and death, dynamics and statics, roughness and meticulousness, firmness and gentleness, lightness and darkness, straightness and curviness, verticality and horizontality, and lightness and heaviness.”

Design inspiration is not limited to observation or representation of nature, but is also influenced by Chinese poetry, calligraphy, and other visual arts. Common penjing designs include evocation of dragons and the strokes of well-omened characters. At its highest level, the artistic value of penjing is on par with that of poetry, calligraphy, brush painting and garden art.

and last but not least, Chinese Chan –

 Sunyata points to the “emptiness” or no-“thing”-ness of all “things”. Though we perceive a world of concrete and discrete objects, designated by names, on close analysis the “thingness” dissolves, leaving them “empty” of inherent existence. The Heart sutra, a text from the prajnaparamita-sutras, articulates this in the following saying in which the five skandhas are said to be “empty”:
The Yogacara explains this “emptiness” in an analysis of the way we perceive “things”. Everything we conceive of is the result of the working of the five skandhas—results of perception, feeling, volition, and discrimination.[note 8] The five skandhas together compose consciousness. The “things” we are conscious of are “mere concepts”, not Ding an sich.
It took Chinese Buddhism several centuries to recognize that sunyata does not refer to “wu”, nothingness, nor does Buddhism postulate an undying soul. The influence of those various doctrinal and textual backgrounds is still discernible in Zen. Zen teachers still refer to Buddha-nature, but the Zen tradition also emphasizes that Buddha-nature is sunyata, the absence of an independent and substantial self.


Japanese zen philosophy and implementation

The overall goal of Zen interior design is to create a peaceful, inspiring home that looks good without looking dressed up. Combine any or all of the following elements of Zen decorating:
♦ Clean straight lines: nothing that’s visually busy;
♦ Built-in, concealed storage;
♦ Open, clear spaces (zero clutter);
♦ Natural, beautiful but unfussy materials;
♦ Quality but simple furnishings: nothing ‘bling’ or high-maintenance, nothing that screams for attention or tries to impress;
♦ Low-impact colors taken from nature, a minimum of (subtle) pattern;
♦ Quality rather than quantity;
♦ A calm overall look (you get enough stimulation when you step outside the front door 😉 )

as well as a little blurb all about Japanese Zen
Generally speaking, Zen cherishes simplicity and straightforwardness in grasping reality and acting on it “here and now,” for it believes that a thing-event that is immediately presencing before one’s eyes or under one’s foot is no other than an expression of suchness, i.e., it is such that it is showing its primordial mode of being. It also understands a specificity of thing-event to be a recapitulation of the whole; parts and the whole are to be lived in an inseparable relationship through an exercise of nondiscriminatory wisdom, without prioritizing the visible over the invisible, the explicit over the implicit, and vice versa.


They’re bound while I’m blinded, my mind will not define it..

buried in books and boxes

boundless books tower to the tippy top

off the shelf, to every spot

drowning in my table space

with pages that just won’t erase

and sound smarter than I’ll ever be

for so many secrets are hidden as seeds

that flower in sticky soils but my mind has been deceived

I am sick and searching for nutrients I need

looking for the sunshine I’m covered by the leaves

I can’t hold up the burden of all my brain perceives

yet I’m littered with the scraps of who I used to be

does life really matter if I look but cannot see?

hollow walls, disaster calls

This basement is a dungeon

that hides the brightest light

takes me to a darker place

where I feel I cannot fight

white walls a blank despair

as i seek  reflection

clouded by the innocence

but a chaos through collection

I cannot bare

to be there

to ever care

so i stare into the silence

but blankness bellows blares

and in reply I say goodbye

to this wretched white

knowing that without a change

I wont survive the fight


Learning into action- Clutter Cleanup

My meditation on removing my clutter from my life. Showing and using what ive learned about clutter to downsize some of my own