As I savour some of the beautiful moments in 2013, and look forward with gratitude to another New Year I have had the privilege of entering into, the word that I have been dwelling on is ‘Simplicity’.
A simple life, it seems to me, is one where we are clear of our purpose and our priorities, and we can painlessly discard whatever does not support them. It is essential to free ourselves from the complexities of life, and not fritter it away by too much trivial detail. There is a great need for us to do all we can to bring some order into the chaos that we might find ourselves in. When we embrace simplicity, we are constantly thankful that our basic needs are met, and we then experience the joy of satisfaction. The possession of many things and of great wealth creates so many complex possible choices and decisions to be made everyday that it can become a nervous strain.
Voluntarily choosing a life of simplicity means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, and avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of our lives. It means ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves deliberate organization of our life for a purpose. The men who tried to climb Mount Everest concentrated their thoughts and energies on planning their expedition for several years, and in the actual attempt, discarded every ounce of equipment not surely needed for that one purpose.
Observance of simplicity is a recognition of the fact that we are all greatly influenced by our surroundings and their subtle implications. The power of our environment modifies us. We will therefore be wise to select and create deliberately such an immediate environment as will influence our character in the direction that we deem most important, and that will make it easier for us to live in the way we believe wisest. Simplicity gives us freedom and clearness of vision. The athlete, in order to win the race, strips off the non essentials of clothing, is careful of what he eats and simplifies his life in a number of ways. Great achievements of the mind will also require similar discriminations and disciplines.
Simplicity also provides us with the capacity for friendship, for fellowship, for entering imaginatively into the lives of others. Our sensitiveness to other important human relationships is not clogged or dulled, but rather increases our capacity to exercise love, and form deeply satisfying and enduring bonds with others.
Here are some ways in which we can cultivate simplicity. We can direct our imagination towards the new desires that we would like to replace some of our existing desires with, dwelling on them in spare moments, just before going to bed, and just after awakening. We can read books and articles dealing with them. I find it very enjoyable to be in the company of others who have ideas and values similar to the ones I wish to cultivate. This way, I can provide as many stimuli as possible for my line of thought and conduct. To stay away from a ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ attitude, which I believe leads to complexity of living and exaggerated individualism, is key. We will help ourselves towards simplicity by cultivating a strong and constant feeling of human unity. The strength to resist the pressure of group opinion, and the ability to withstand unfavourable comment again must be cultivated.
May the New Year be a year where we learn to live with child like simplicity, moving towards our goals with singleness of purpose, persistence, endurance and strength.
I am truly grateful for your utmost kindness towards the work of Asha.