The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim (nicknamed “healing mentor” in Korea and whose name means “spontaneous wisdom”) is a renowned Buddhist mediation teacher born in Korea and educated in the United States.
This book, translated by the author with Chi-Young Kim and published in 2012, precedes Love for Imperfect Things and shows the patterns of thought in mindfulness practice, the value of slowing down in our busy modern lives and the art of maintaining good relationships and cultivating self-compassion.
The eight chapters (on Rest, Mindfulness, Passion, Relationships, Love, Life, The Future and Spirituality) are illustrated by Youngcheol Lee which provide lovely, colourful and calming interludes to the essays and series of prompts for meditation and words of advice and wisdom:
The book contains simple yet powerful truth which we all know deep down inside but which are so easy to lose when we are too wound up in our busy life. For example:
* Rest: “To get food unstuck from a frying pan, just pour water in the pan and wait. After a while the food loosens on its own.” This shows how the world is experienced according to the state of one’s mind.
* Mindfulness: being mindful is to befriend your emotion. Advice: Much like a mirror reflects what is before it without judgement or identification with the image, simply reflect the negative emotion (eg anger) and watch it dispassionately.
*Passion: Being right isn’t important; being happy together is. Maturity comes with experience.
* Relationships: The art of maintaining a good relationship is to avoid conflicts. “Do not expect others to follow your way. When things always go your way, it is easy to become arrogant.” (Buddhist scripture); “Whether we like it or not, we are all connected, and it is unthinkable to be happy all by oneself.” (Dalai Lama)
* Love: “Demonstrations of love are small, compared with the great thing that is hidden behind them.” (Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”)
* Life: Life is like jazz. Much of it is improvised; we cannot control all the variables. We must love it with panache and flair, regardless of what it throws at us.
* The Future: one word of encouragement can change the future. “Those who have not realised their True Self live like the blind, unintentionally scratching someone else’s leg. If you would like to scratch your own leg, first awaken to your True Self.” (Kyeongbong, Korean Zen Master)
* Spirituality: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your stand of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) This is essentially the same as the Law of Karma in Buddhist tradition. “He who knows only one religion knows none.” (Max Muller, German scholar) and “it is a sign of spiritual strength to keep someone else’s secret”.
This is a nice, soothing book, full of good advice and common sense which could be reflected upon and provide respite from hectic lives, stresses and other problems.