Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia & Francese Miralles

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Intellectual Humiliation

Confront your own ignorance.

Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia & Francese Miralles

The art of making the most of every moment, the Japanese way

There characteristic of Ichigo Ichie loosely translate to the idea: what we are experiencing right now will never happen again. What this means to tell us that is that each meeting, everything we experience, is an unique treasure that will never be repeated in the same way again. Therefore it ask us to enjoy each moment for it will never be repeated again. 

As Marcus Aurelius writes in his Meditations: the drama of existence is not death but never having begun to live.  

The essence of Ichigo Ichie is to recognize that each moment is unique in life, for even if we encountered the same people and places as we have before, we, as human beings, will never be the same. Our perspectives, tastes, attention, and life will be different, filter our experience as unique, each time. 


Kaika is best describe when something unknown begins to blossom within us. When something that we have seen inspire us to become the person we were sent to earth to be. For example, Dan Brown said that he had never thought of writing a book until he discovered The Doomsday Conspiracy on a vacation sight with his wife that inspired his need to write thrillers. 

Kaika is when a whole new world opens up to us. 

The Mankai Formula 

Mankai happens when we turn kaika into something that matures and unfolds inside of us. The best way to understand mankai is to think about the work it takes to write a book, the spark of the idea is kaika, but the actual effort of writing the complete novel is mankai. 

In order to reach mankai one must first find his own ikigai: discovering something we become passionate about and which comes easily to us. 

When we’ve identified our mission, then comes kaika: our passion, the reason we feel we were put on the earth to begin to blossom. 

Mankai happens when we keep on the path of our kaika in order to reach mastery. 

So the mankai formula goes something like this:

Ikigai + kaika + time = mankai 

“If discover our talent, open ourselves up to it, and make it a priority in our lives, our passion will be able to develop, leading to our happiness and that of others.” – Ichigo Ichie

The Four Basic Emotions and Time

Anger. Is linked to our survival instinct that originally had evolved to help us face danger. Today, sadly, anger is used in all kinds of situations outside of its primary use: survival. Anger, today, is almost always due to our interpretation of something that has happened or that someone has done. It ties to to the past, preventing us from enjoying the here and now. 

Sadness. This emotion comes from a sense of loss, from broad array of situations. 

Sadness inherently forces us to lower our eyelids and turn down our lips. It forces to ignore what’s in the present and why its called “blank stare”. Sadness is another emotion that ties us to the past for we’re focusing on what we lost, what no longer exists or what wanted but didn’t get. 

Fear. Just like anger, it’s based on our survival instints and serves to warn us of threats and potential harm. It helped us stay alive by keeping us from natural predators. Today, thought, it projects us into the future, making us anxious about whats about to happen. 

Happiness. It’s an emotion that’s not really understood, for some people are inherent to it, while others sabotage it. In all these cases, it’s an emotion that conjures a celebration of life, lightheartedness and optimism. When we feel happy, we become more empathetic, generous and human. It’s the only emotion that keeps us in the present and is the home of ichigo Ichie precisely because because we know that it is happening only now, and not before or after, we celebrate it by fully giving ourselves over to savoring the moment. 

Eight Zen Lesson for an Ichigo Ichie Life

1. Just sit and see what happens. 
2. Savor this moment as if it were your last breath. 
3. Avoid distractions.
4. Free yourself from everything that isn’t essential. 
5. Be your own friend. 
6. Celebrate imperfections.
7. Practice compassion. 
8. Let go of your expectations.  

Dukkha and Mono No Aware

The Buddhist concept of dukkha is often translate as suffering, but a more accurate translation would be: “that slight anxiety and dissatisfaction that all living beings constantly feel inside, because we know that change is inevitable.”

In our modern lives, we try to escape this feeling rather than accept it. 

Nothing last forever, neither good or bad. Accepting this fact is key to staying in the present and not agonizing when we go through a rough patch. 

The Buddha summarized it best: pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Some strategies to accept this are:

– Understand that life is made up of troubles and satisfactions. Fresh water can only feel satisfying when we are dying of thirst. 
– Be aware of the temporary nature of pain. Things never last forever, unless we are actively trying to lengthen the situation.
– Make up for misfortune by enjoying moments of Ichigo Ichie. 

Mono No Aware

Is the Japanese expression of “being aware of the passage of time”. It’s a bittersweet feeling when we finally understand that what we are living tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing and feeling in the present won’t last forever. 

Its a strategy that helps appreciate what we have for when we grow used to something, we often lose interest in it. Once we get what we want, after a brief period of satisfaction, we return to our “base level” of happiness. 

Carpe Diem

Carpe diem comes with the idea from a philosopher that once said that humans are mortals who act as if they are going to live forever, but rather than making us live like gods, this opens the way to the enemies of the present:

– Prioritizing the urgent (for other people) over the important (for us).
– Postponing what we most want to do again and again, as if we had unlimited time.
– Thinking that conditions aren’t right to do what we want to do but that in the future they will be.
– Boycotting the present with feelings of resentment, sadness, and worry that prevents us from enjoy it. 

Amor Fati

Amor fair in Italian translates to “love of fate” which describes the belief that everything in life happens for a reason, even though it may not seem that way at the time. This in turn implies a faith in destiny. That doesn’t mean that we should just leave things up to happen, but that we mold what chance brings us with a positive attitude and good decisions. 

“Learning to see the beauty of things also allows us to make them beautiful.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Amor fati describes the innate human fear of losing control. We believe that we can determine the course of our lives but the truth is that change always intervenes and sometimes unexpected detours takes it to our true goal without our knowing it.  

A Tool for Conscious Magic

When we discover coincidences, we become more sensitive to and observant of them, and this helps us begins o detect more. 

The subtle messages sent to us by the universe are a tool for conscious magic and that we can develop in various ways:

– Paying more attention to what happens around us. 
– Keep a diary. 
– Talking to creative people. 
– Practicing meditation. 

Living Ichigo Ichie

“Having problems is part of being alive. It is our difficulties and how we face them, more than our periods of contentment, that shapes us throughout the course of ours lives.” – Ichigo Ichie

The Art of Listening

It’s difficult to find someone who truly listens, since between someone else’s words and our ears, there are all kinds of filters and obstacles, like: 

– Our opinion of the person speaking.
– Our prejudice and preconceived ideas about the topic.
– Our thoughts about what we’re going to say when the other has finished speaking. 

To become a better listener and truly enjoy Ichigo Ichie in a conversation, try to:

– Find the right place for import at conversations. 
– Look at the person speaking to you in the eye. 
– Turn off interfering thoughts. 
– Ask questions without interrupting. 
– Don’t give unsolicited advice. 

The Art of Looking

In order to have Ichigo Ichie experiences, we need to regain our ability to look life in the eye. 

To regain our sense of sight in a clouded world where the digital is primal, try doing these things:

– Go to country and try to look at the difference phases of nature. 
– When you walk to work, try noticing the buildings, people, shops that are around you. Try to filter this trip thought the eyes of a tourist.
– When you meet with someone you know at a place you’ve been, try noticing the little things of the encounter, like the other persons emotional state, their wardrobe, the season and its effects on the place. 

The Art of Touching

There are moments of Ichigo Ichie that culminate in touch, which we often don’t pay attention to and which is also an essential human need. 

We need to know the importance of physical touch and its benefits:

1. It lowers blood pressure and facilitates general relaxation.
2. It communicates a sense of trust and intimacy.
3. It motivates us to be successful. 
4. It strengthens relationships. 
5. It lifts your mood.

In order to awaken our sense of touch in an Ichigo Ichie way try to:

– Make a habit of touching things in your everyday life.
– When you touch something, close your eyes and try to describe it to someone else.
– When you step outside, be aware of the weather against your skin.
– Try walking barefoot on surfaces that can’t harm your feet, such as wood, grass or even dirt. 

The Art of Tasting

Dans le noir is the French art of dinning blind. Literally. Where the guest of the restaurant are served by blind waiters and the food and beverages are served in a dark room where the customers have to guess what they’re eating. This experience can give us the perfect experience of Ichigo Ichie by forcing us to interpret the combination of flavors without our sight. 

The Art of Smelling

The sense of smell is the most potent of our sense for it has the power to transport us back in time allowing us to recover moments of Ichigo Ichie. 

“Human beings memorize three percent of what we see, fiver percent of what we hear, and thirty five percent of what we smell.” – Guillermo Bartolo 

In order to strengthen this sense try to keep a journal. Every time you’re transported back to the place in time where a smell transported you, try to revoque with detail the moment you first smelled the aroma. 

Enemies of Ichigo Ichie

There are very clear enemies to thre present. Habits and attitudes that rob us of the gift of now, preventing us from experiment unforgettable moments. 

– Projections, when our minds transports us to the past or future.
– Distractions, in which we try to do several things at once. 
– Fatigue, because we haven’t taken care of our selves and our bodies with enough care. 
– Impatience, by wanting to make things happen without being mindful of the moment. 
– Analysis, when we try to dissect the moment in which we are living in the now. 

The Ichigo Ichie Formula

In essence ichigo ichie can be summarized as:

– Celebration
– Inspiring place
– Timelessness
– Mindfulness
– Good company

And keep in mind the ten rules of ichigo ichie:

1. Don’t postpone special moments.
2. Live as if this were going to happen only once in your life.
3. Dwell in the present.
4. Do something you’ve never done before.
5. Practice zazen.
6. Apply mindfulness to your five senses.
7. Notice coincidences.
8. Make every gathering a party.
9. If you don’t like what there is, make something different. 
10. Be a hunger of special moments. 


My rating:

This book in 3 key points

  1. Be present in every moment of your life, not matter how minimal. 
  2. In the bad moments in life don’t look towards the things you can’t control, look towards the things you can learn.
  3. Celebrate the good and the no so good.  

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