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Views Zen Comics: Wisdom Through Manga
Concentrating on the Job at Hand

Mokutan Angelo [Profile]

[2018.09.10]

A moment of perfect flow can arrive unexpectedly, but it is a truly special experience. The fourth of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips looks at the phrase 一行三昧 (ichigyō zanmai).

Have you ever had this experience? You have a task to do, like clearing up an untidy room or some kind of manual work requiring patience. Although it seems demanding at first, as you focus you gradually lose sense of time. Before you realize it, the job is almost complete.

The phrase 一行三昧 (ichigyō zanmai) means total concentration (三昧; sanmai) on a single task (一行; ichigyō). The Japanese term sanmai is taken from the Sanskrit samadhi, a concept found in various meditative traditions.

Whether it is something one wishes to do or not, putting idle thoughts aside—and even putting thought itself aside—allows for complete absorption, body and soul, in the immediate job at hand. On returning to the present moment, one understands what a precious and unique experience one has enjoyed.

Cast of Characters

Noriko, a junior high school student.

Sunday morning at the train station. Sunday morning at the train station.

“<em>. . . has been canceled due to mechanical failure</em>.”. . . has been canceled due to mechanical failure.”

“That’s right. Nothing’s moving. There’s no way I’ll get there on time. So, have fun without me.” “That’s right. Nothing’s moving. There’s no way I’ll get there on time. So, have fun without me.”

“Just my luck! Everyone else gets to enjoy the theme park and I’m stuck on this stupid platform.” “Just my luck! Everyone else gets to enjoy the theme park and I’m stuck on this stupid platform.”

<em>Pitter patter.</em> Pitter patter.

<em>Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat.</em><br /> “Ugh, unbelievable.” Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat.
“Ugh, unbelievable.”

“At least I got a seat. It’s really bucketing down out there.” “At least I got a seat. It’s really bucketing down out there.”

“And of course I don’t have an umbrella. Wait, let’s check the weather forecast.” “And of course I don’t have an umbrella. Wait, let’s check the weather forecast.”

“Perfect. Now my battery’s dead.” “Perfect. Now my battery’s dead.”

“Sigh. I guess I’ll do my assigned reading then. I hope I don’t fall asleep.” “Sigh. I guess I’ll do my assigned reading then. I hope I don’t fall asleep.”

Noriko starts reading. Noriko starts reading.

The sound of rain. . . The sound of rain. . .

. . . drowns everything out. . . . drowns everything out.

Whoosh.<br /> “Keeeee.” Whoosh.
“Keeeee.”

“Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw.” “Caw, caw, caw, caw, caw.”

Whooosh.<br /> Swooosh. Whooosh.
Swooosh.

“Ahhhhh!” “Ahhhhh!”

. . . . . .

A sudden light falls on Noriko’s book. A sudden light falls on Noriko’s book.

“Ah. . .” “Ah. . .”

“A rainbow.” “A rainbow.”

The End

(Originally published in Japanese on August 22, 2018. Manga by Mokutan Angelo.)

  • [2018.09.10]

Born in Brazil. Inspired by Japanese manga at the age of 14, he decided to become a manga creator himself. Studied manga and Japanese and attended Tokyo Zōkei University as a graduate student from 2007. After graduation, worked at an IT corporation for five years. Was a manga representative at the opening ceremony for the 2015 Tokyo International Book Fair. Produces many manga works based on Zen, including the Mai zen daiarī (My Zen Diary) strip for the Japanese business magazine President Next.

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  • Harmony and Hygiene: An Environment for ImprovementThe essential nature of the tea ceremony can be applied to everyday life. The third of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips examines the phrase 和敬清寂 (wakei seijaku).
  • A Path to Peace: Knowing Enough Is EnoughAccepting life as it is, rather than chasing constantly multiplying desires, is a route to tranquility. The second of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips examines the phrase 知足安分 (chisoku anbun).
  • The Language of Zen: Words for a World of ChangeFamiliar people and places surround us, but we should recognize that each encounter is different. The first of a series introducing the language of Zen through easy-to-understand manga strips tackles the phrase 一期一会 (ichigo ichie).

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