Zen and the art of shining a footlight


Literally: leg – below – illuminate – look back

Alternately: Make time to look within. More literally, “make sure to look carefully under your own feet.” 照顧 is a Zen Buddhist term for consideration, reflection, introspection. This is a warning that instead of criticizing or critiquing others, it’s more important to look back on your own words and deeds.

Notes: Replacing 脚 with homophone and close relative 却, “instead,” is of course an error. It is possible, albeit uncommon, to flip the order and instead use 照顧脚下.

This phrase is attributed to a Kamakura-era Buddhist priest known as 孤峰覚明 (Kohou Kakumyou)

A poem by Fujimoto Kouhou (藤本幸邦) extolling the existential calm that comes of neatly lining up your footwear when you take it off


(Hakimono wo soroeru to kokoro mo sorou
Kokoro ga sorou to hakimono mo sorou
Nugu toki ni soroete oku to
haku toki ni
kokoro ga
Dare ka ga
midashite oitara
damatte soroete oite ageyou
Sou sureba kitto
sekaijuu no hito no kokoro mo sorou deshou)

(“If you line up your shoes, your heart will become orderly as well
If your heart is in order, your shoes will be too
If you make them neat when you take them off
then when you put them on
your heart
won’t be
messed up
If someone leaves them in a mess
quietly line them up for that person
If you do that, then surely
the hearts of everyone in the world will also be in good order”)

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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1 Response to Zen and the art of shining a footlight

  1. Ellie HS says:

    It is interesting relation between the heart and the way you place the shoes. I never thought of that before.

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