The Book of Ichigo Ichie

Reviewed by K Rajeshwar Sharma
Contd from previous issue
The Beatles began their journey of ‘ten thousand hours to greatness’ in the nightclubs of Hamburg where they performed eight hours a day with their “Love Me Do” that became a ‘smash hit’. Both Bill Gates and The Beatles had experienced Ichigo Ichie in their successful moments.
Translating the journey of ‘ten thousand hours to greatness’ into Japanese terms, the authors of the book of Ichigo Ichie have formulated a formula that goes like this:  Ikigai+Kaika+Time=Mankai Ikigai, the first part, is to discover something we are passionate about, and pursuing it with patience and perseverance is Kaika, the most difficult part of the three because it needs to set aside ‘other people’s demands to make room for our passion’.
The third part is the time that we stay on the path with patience without losing the dream to obtain Mankai which literally means “the exact moment when the Sakura flower is fully opened.” It does not matter how long it takes to obtain the magic moment of Mankai. It is the unique moment when one achieves success and experiences Ichigo Ichie.
What strikes me most is the chapter on ‘Zensations’ where how ‘Eastern philosophy’ influenced Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers, in making his Apple successful is explained. While he was in Reed College, Steve Jobs spent most of his time reading about Hinduism and Buddhism, particularly about Zen Buddhism. In 1974, he came to India ‘to find a convincing guru’ but he failed to find one. However an interesting event happened in his trip to India.
It was an Ichigo Ichie moment ‘when a Hindu monk approached Jobs with a razor and shaved his head without any prior warning’. Every Sunday night Steve Jobs used to walk seven miles to the Hare Krishna temple in San Francisco to take prasadum or food offered to Lord Krishna, which were Ichigo Ichie moments of his life.
Zazen was so important to Steve Jobs that it became ‘an essential tool for Jobs when it came to designing his Apple products.’ The simplicity and beauty of the guiding principles of Zen can be found in iPods and iPhones as well. Zazen or “sitting zen” is one of the most popular forms of meditation in Japan. It is a kind of meditation that has no specific goal other than centering oneself as much as possible in the present, observing without attachment with the things that pass through one’s mind.
At the San Francisco Zen Center, Steve Jobs began to practice Zazen under the guidance of the monk Kobun Chino Otogowa who became his friend and mentor. Kobun also taught Steve Jobs how to give “one’s all to a fleeting moment, the Ichigo Ichie that Kobun had learned in the teahouses.” Not only did Steve Jobs practice Zazen, but he also practiced calligraphy which he learned at Reed College. Later he said, ‘None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.’
The book of Ichigo Ichie was conceived at a Chashitsu which was a memorable moment to both the authors. Chashitsu, a teahouse, is a very important place where people meet and have the fragrant tea to enjoy Wabi-cha, a ‘tea ceremony that emphasizes simplicity above all else.’ In addition to simplicity, every meeting at Chashitsu should be a memorable moment by treating the ‘host with Ichigo Ichie.’
Metaphorically Chashitsu is our world where we meet and live our lives. To make every moment of our lives an Ichigo Ichie, at the end of the book Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles have given us ten golden rules of Ichigo Ichie.
Of the ten rules, the third one is the one which every Manipuri, who seems to have become the slaves of History, should learn and practice. The third rule of Ichigo Ichie is: “Dwell in the present. Journeys into the past and the future are often painful and nearly always useless. You can’t change what happened. You can’t know what will happen.
“But here in this moment, all the possibilities in the world are alive.”