Love for Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim: Summary & Notes

Front cover of Love For Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim.

In short

Love for Imperfect Things is a second collection of short pieces of Buddhist wisdom, written by the “Twitter Monk” Haemin Sunim. It’s a follow-up to the popular The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, and deals more with emotions, compassion, imperfection and other negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, and stress. To me this collection was not as good as the first, but if you enjoy Sunim’s thinking and writing you will enjoy this collection as well.

Book Summary & Notes

All text between quotation marks is taken directly from the book.


“When we examine our lives, we see many imperfect things, like motes of dust on an old mirror. There are all kinds of things that leave us feeling dissatisfied and unhappy: Our words are often different form our actions, our relationships are strained by our mistakes, our best-laid plans for the future go awry. On top of that, in the course of our lives we inflict various wounds on others, intentionally or unintentionally, causing us to feel guilt and regret.

And yet, even though we find many such imperfect things in the world we live in, we cannot help but love them. Because our lives are far too precious to be spent in ridicule and hatred of what doesn’t appeal to us, of what we do not understand. As we become spiritually mature, we naturally develop more empathy and try to see things from others’ perspectives. This, in turn, teaches us to accept the imperfections of others, and for ourselves, in a more graceful and compassionate way, like a mother loves her child no matter what.”

“Just as on a plane,
you are told to put
the emergency breathing mask on a child
only after you have put one on yourself,
there is nothing selfish about looking after yourself first.
Only if you are happy will you be able
to make those around you happy.”

“There is a saying in Korea:
“Lengthy deliberation often leads to a terrible decision.”
If you think and worry too much before doing something,
“your boat goes to the mountain instead of the ocean.”
Now and then it is necessary to trust your intuition
and push ahead in the direction you feel is appropriate.”

“Because I have experienced pain,
I am able to embrace the pain of others.
Because I have made mistakes,
I am able to forgive others their mistakes.
May my suffering become the seed of compassion.”

“I wish you to be happy.
But do not wait for someone to make you happy.
Make the decision to be happy for yourself, and act on it.
Do not surrender to someone else the power to make you happy.”

“What distresses us is less the circumstances we find ourselves in and more the energy we expend in resisting them. Once we actually do the work, we are often surprised that it was not as hard as we imagined it to be. But when we resist, we become preoccupied by an endless cycle of negative thoughts, and in turn feel harried and stressed.”

“We all wish to belong,
It is through those who care deeply about us
that we find love and purpose in our lives.
After all, we are all imperfect beings who need one another.”

“If you want to excel in a relationship,
the way to do so is very simple:
Give more than you receive.
The more we receive, we can’t help but
feel grateful and like the person.”

“Who is an unfortunate person?
One who looks at other people and sees only their flaws.”

“We have become accustomed to sacrificing the present for the sake of the future. We consider it a matter of course that the present just has to be put up with until one day that bright future arrives. We have overlooked the importance of enjoying the journey while prizing only the destination.”

“New ideas often come from the margins,
where people question and challenge the norms
set by the mainstream.
Rather than lamenting that you’re an outsider,
use your unique position to your advantage
and create something original and interesting.”

“Excessive thought won’t solve a problem.
Rather than trying to fix it by thinking,
set your mind at ease.
A solution will rise to the surface
Remember that wisdom comes from stillness.”

“Distinguish between the things you can control
and those you can’t.
For instance, the past cannot be undone.
You cannot control what other people think of you.
But you can control what you are doing right now.
The way to be free of worry and anxiety
is to focus your attention on the present moment.”

“When difficult emotions
like loneliness, sadness, and fear
well up inside you,
the most courageous thing you can do
is to spend some time with them.
Rather than trying to escape them
by turning on the TV or calling a friend,
sit next to them and look at them quietly.
When you pay attention to them,
they will either change their shape and disappear,
or make you see that they’re not that terrifying.”

“Perhaps we interfere in other people’s lives
because we are too afraid to face
the emptiness and loneliness in our own.”

“When the sky is empty of clouds,
we can see its blue depths,
And when the mind is empty of thoughts,
we can feel its true nature.”

“True freedom
is being without anxiety about imperfection.” – Zen Master Sengchan

“Emotions are like uninvited guests.
They come whenever they want to,
and leave once you acknowledge their presence.
Although emotions are born inside of you,
don’t assume that they belong to you.
That is why they rarely listen to you.”

“Even if you have everything you’ve ever wanted,
you won’t be happy if you’re always striving
for more or better.
Happiness comes when our hearts are peaceful and content,
and when we learn to appreciate what we already have.”


Liked this? You might also enjoy Sunim’s first collection of Buddhist wisdom, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. Or browse all book notes here.

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