The ZAZEN App “UNDO” Downdates(英訳)

The ZAZEN App “UNDO” Downdates
(translation from “坐禅アプリ「雲堂(undo)」ダウンデートのお知らせ“)

We would like to inform you about Downdates of the Zazen App “UNDO”.

This App is made for the people who wants to do Zazen in their modern daily lives.  released under supervision of Higan-ji, developed and designed by Webimpact and Hoxaigraphics in 2011.

Thanks to everybody it has been downloaded by hundred thousand users not only in Japan but all over the world. The youtube video explaining how to sit was played over 2 hundred thousand times. We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all of our users and supporters.

Undo instruction video on YouTube

To Zazen with “UNDO” is simple and easy. Just tap the screen and you will hear the instruction voice. The sound of the Gong tells you how to adjust your posture. By following the sound, you are able to cover all Zazen movements from the beginning till the end. There will appear a burning incense on the screen with the first Gong, and when the incense has burned out you will hear the Gong announcing the finish of Zazen. These sounds has been recorded in an actual temple in Japan, which provides the atmosphere of as if you were practicing in a Zen temple.

After the announcement of iOS 11 from Apple, we got several inquiries about updating the App. So we had some meetings and decided to “Downdate” the App for the future.

A part of the meeting is filmed and published on YouTube(In Japanese).
Here’s an outline of what was discussed at this meeting.

>What does “UNDO” mean?

UNDO is named with a wish to undo oneself. Our goal is to make it possible that people use “smart devices” less, by using devices smartly.

Zen monks are called as “UN-SUI” in Japanese. “UN” represents the floating cloud, “SUI” represents the streaming water.

For centuries, Zazen has been practiced by Zen monks who gathered like clouds and water. This is why we call our Zazen Hall UN-DO(DO means “hall” in Japanese).

Everybody can have a relaxed and quiet time to “undo”, make it into a habit just like eating, bathing, or brushing your teeth… We aim to support people to maintain such an environment in today’s world.

We would like to downdate the App little by little from the version 1.3, to 0.9 within a year and to the version 0.0 in the future. The ideal future for us is that nobody needs this App anymore, and naturally can share quiet times together.

>Random thoughts about Update, modern technology, and “the bad guys”

When you say Update, it often refers to the increase in functions. To increase functions itself is very important, but depending on the circumstances, it also increases problems.

As much as increasing is a part of life, decreasing is always on the other end, existing as one of the essential aspects of life.

Human beings for example, the functioning of individual organs rapidly increases after birth, but  at a certain stage of development, they turn to decrease and finally greets death.

If we are coming to realize the limitations of this modern civilization, stepping backwards and reconsidering our lifestyle cannot be a waste of time for us in order to live a wholesome life.

Fro example when you look at the office softwares “Excel” or “Words”, there are so many new functions that one can hardy keep up with. On one hand increasing functions and designs can be a good thing, but that does not always result to user friendly. Why and for whom are these devices updated? Could it be that we are leaving behind a very important point?

Apple released a computer named “Power Mac G4 Cube” back in 1999, which the advertisement quoted “More than enough power”. It specifically said this computer has more than enough functions to play 3D games and edit videos. I remember thinking that I won’t have to buy new computers once I had the G4 Cube. And what is reality today? Let alone G4 Cube but even computers from just a few years ago cannot handle certain websites or basic functions such as editing texts, email applications and ends up freezing up. You are constantly threatened to buy the newest. Even though it has been a good 15 years from that quote “More than enough”.
Apparently, Steve Jobs was greatly influenced by the traditional Japanese culture.

The beauty of URUSHI-WAN (wooden lacquered bowl ) is that it can be used through generations and returns to nature after it finally decays.

A simple and sophisticated design is a significant feature of the traditional tools. If we could develop our values and usage of computers or smartphones, to the same level(at least) that we use our Grandpa’s ROLEX watches, perhaps our minds can be satisfied with less resources. Instead of bragging how “new” your device is, how would our world look like if we cherish our computers, even a part of it for long lasting period?


Another big reason to update is for security correspondence.

Since “the bad guys” do “the bad action”, Update the OS

We update all Apps on the previous OS

“the bad guys” also updates “the bad action”

We again update all Apps and OS for the updated bad action.

By keeping on updating our convenient devices for safety, the same convenient tools are also updating “the bad action”. Are we going to finally end this race some day? may be when iPhone 108 is released? Or haven’t we come to a point where we need to think of another dimension?

>How could we downdate the App concretely?

The 3 main Downdates are

1 > Eliminate the KYOSAKU function
This function was not essential. Probably, most of the users are not even aware of its existence…
2 > Eliminate the Twitter function
There are many ways to share Zazen, we do not necessarily need SNS to share it.
3 >Eliminate time limitation
We found that the limitation of the time was misplaced kindness.
We’ll be very happy if you could spend even one minute with UNDO.

The developer screamed in pain because the functions where they made diligent effort, was chosen first to be eliminated! Someone even said that you might as well use the default timer App from the beginning. Well, it’s true, if we could choose the sound “UNDO” by default, we would be able to give up the App quite easlily.

Sogen Ichizumi, the chief designer of hoxaigraphics said, the concept design of the App “UNDO” is
– Nobody remembers that it exists –
It’s more difficult to subtract than to add ideas, without eliminating the important function.

” The main design concept of Undo is “forgettable”, to multiply functions is easy, the most difficult part is how to polish it, which is the most important aspect.” says Sogen Ichizumi, the chief designer of Hoxaigraphics.
To make a design without a strong presence is easier said than done, it’s made upon the purpose not to leave reverberations after Zazen.

photo by Yu Nozaki

photo by Yu Nozaki

To make a design without a strong presence is more difficult than imagination, it’s made for not to leave a reverberations after Zazen.

>A message from Undo

By using tools we can communicate with other people around the world instantly. With a little more effort, we will also be able to achieve our aim by using the minimum amount of tools.

The modern civilization which always aims for the progress could be nice for some people, but it seems most of the creatures on this planet are not so happy, and people are having more and more problems by using tools. the total amount of worries are definitely updating.
We hope that everyone has a quiet moment to think deeply what kind of life style will be good for all of us.

We will continue to do our best until we downdate to the version 0.0 or 0 users. If you have some impressions or questions etc… we are very happy to listen to your opinions.

Please kindly allow us to make adjustment with the latest OS for a while longer. Thank you very much again for reading this long article. We’ll keep on informing the latest situation of our “downdate”.

photo by Yu Nozaki

photo by Yu Nozaki

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The original text in Japanese
http://higan.net/now/2017/10/undo/

Top Photo by Kierok Thomas

彼岸寺

彼岸寺は、仏教とあなたのご縁を結ぶ、インターネット上のお寺です。 誰もが、一人ひとりの仏教をのびのびと語り、共有できる、そんなお寺です。