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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous Zen Temple » User review

Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous

A book by Juliet Winters Carpenter and Kaoru Nonomura

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A Satisfying Read about Life at the Eiheji Monastery

  • Dec 16, 2009
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Rating:
+3
I finally finished Eat, Sleep, Sit. I have been slowly plugging away at it for several months and my neglect at finishing it was not because it was uninteresting or a terrible read (quite the contrary, in fact) but rather because it is such a different reading experience that it took me time to digest it and continue. The writing style of Kaoru Nonomura is very articulate and precise, conveying the message without a lot of indulgence or unnecessary detail and Nonomura's writing does an excellent job of conveying the attitudes and expectations at the Eiheji Monastery.

Does Eat, Sleep, Sit provide an excellent "memoir-ic" account of life at the Eiheji Monastery? Without a doubt. Does Eat, Sleep, Sit provide much insight or detail about the philosophical endeavors and metaphysical wonderings of a Buddhist monk? Not in the slightest. While I knew what to expect going into this book (regarding the treatment, abuse, and neglect) I was surprised to read so little about the virtues and the "mission" of the Buddhist's themselves.

Eat, Sleep, Sit is a captivating read, but if you are anything like me you won't be able to power through it in a couple of days; but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

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December 16, 2009
Thanks for sharing!  This title of this book sounds intriguing.  Bummer that he didn't write too much about the philosophy of Buddhism, so it makes me wonder what he learned out of his time there, but it still sounds fascinating nonetheless.  If you're looking more for what goes through the mind of an ascetic, Siddhartha is really great book that follows a man as he leaves his life of riches to lead an ascetic life and reach nirvana.
December 17, 2009
Thanks for the comment; I love Siddhartha as well. Have you read any of Hesse's other works like Demian?
 
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At the age of thirty, Kaoru Nonomura left his family, his girlfriend, and his job as a designer to undertake a year of ascetic training at Eiheiji, one of the most rigorous Zen training temples in Japan. This book is Nonomura's account of his experiences. He skillfully describes every aspect of training, including how to meditate, how to eat, how to wash, and even how to use the toilet, in a way that is easy to understand even for readers with no knowledge of 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 a fascinating insight into a lifestyle of hardships that few people could endure, this is a book that will appeal to all those with an interest in Zen Buddhism and to anyone with an interest in the quest for spiritual growth.
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Tags

Books, Buddhism, Zen, Eiheji

Details

ISBN-10: 4770030754
ISBN-13: 978-4770030757
Author: Juliet Winters Carpenter, Kaoru Nonomura
Genre: Travel
Publisher: Kodansha International
Date Published: April 1, 2009
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