Minna Eväsoja: Shoshin – The Mind of a Novice

“The mind of the novice is open and without prejudice, humble and modest.”

Author: Minna Eväsoja
Finnish original: Shoshin – aloittelijan mieli
Publisher: Gummerus, 2018
Number of pages: 197 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample
Rights sold: Thailand, Nava Publishing

 Japanese culture has always appreciated knowledge, learning and beauty. Learning is accompanied by a thought about shoshin, the mind of a novice that has been described in many ways: as ‘the correct manner’ or as resplendent like ‘flowers and the autumn colours’.

Shoshin  is openness without prejudice, it’s modesty and humility, and incompatible with self-importance or conceit. Knowledge is like a vast mountain you might never conquer. But the trip is still worth it.

A spray hidden by snow. Cool, wilted, withered. The heart’s dust. A hermit’s heart. Chestnuts with mustard. Shoshin – The Mind of a Novice  has moments in the world of Japanese beauty, aesthetics and philosophy. The illustrations are woodblock prints capturing the instantaneous and hedonistic lightness of the floating world.

“Sensei said this about learning: first the mountains look like mountains and the rivers like rivers. Getting further along the road of knowledge you’ll experience a moment when the mountains have stopped looking like mountains or the rivers like rivers. When you continue with your studies you achieve a state of clarity when the mountains again look like mountains; the rivers, like rivers. The opinions of novices are strong and certain, and for them everything is clear and straightforward. As you gain experience and knowledge, things do not appear so straightforward and evident, and interpretation will be deeper, with different shades. After time has passed, things appear in their true form once more, but our understanding about their being is fundamentally changed.”

Also available:
Wabi and Sabi (2019)
Almost Geisha (2017)

About the author:
Minna Eväsoja