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Beauty of True Simplicity

--by Jack Kornfield (Jan 31, 2005)


The clutter of our lives binds us to the precious simplicity that surrounds us and within us. Too of ten we become possessed and imprisoned by the chains of our own accumulations. We live in fear of their loss; we evolve complex strategies to protect ourselves from failure and deprivation. This burden inhibits our ability to walk with lightness of heart. The noise created through our own busyness deafens us to the wonder of silence.

Modern culture has wrongly learned to equate simplicity with deprivation, silence with absence, and strives to fill our lives and minds with objects, information, and distraction. We have become uncomfortable with quietude. Caught in the web of this complexity, we grow increasingly poor in spirit.

We do not need to retreat to the nearest monastery, renouncing all of our possessions and engagements, in order to discover the wonder of silence and spaciousness. Indeed, confusion and preoccupation can be companion of the ascetic as well as the commuter. We do not need to withdraw from the world in order to discover true simplicity of heart. Dramatic gestures are not called for. "If one is to do good," says William Blake, "good must be done in minute particulars. General good is the plea of the hypocrite, the flatterer, and the scounderel." Simplicity is related to not how much we have but to how much we hold on to. This simplicity is without pretension. It is like the water that simply runs downhill. In Zen, it is called our true nature.

Simplicity and renunciation are acts of compassion . for ourselves, for the world around us. Gandhi once stated, "There is enough in this world for everyone.s need, but enough for everyone.s greed." Simplicity in our lifestyle expresses a care and compassion for the world. Simplicity in our hearts, letting go of opinions and craving, is an act of compassion for ourselves. When we let go of yearning for the future, preoccupation with the past, and strategies to protect the present, there is nowhere left to go but where we are. To connect with the present moment is to begin to appreciate the beauty of true simplicity.

--Jack Kornfield & Kristina Feldman

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On Jan 4, 2009 jen brister wrote:
Great article.

On Jun 12, 2006 Yaniv wrote:

Simplicity is like seeing things from a bird's eye view. When we are too involved and clinging to our activities, everything seems complex. By detaching we can gain perspective on clarity on what is going on. "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake from "Auguries of innocence" Renouncing eating meat has turned was first from compassion but after a while turned to judgement. When we renounce it is a choice we make for the better of all, but not a moral imperative. While distributing clothes to homeless people recently, a homeless person responded by not accepting it, feeling no need for extra clutter or for things he doesn't need. When we are born we start in state of utter simplicity and innocence, then we are conditioned into beliefs and habits which add clutter. One way to simplify is to unlearn and shed past conditioning. U  See full.

  • Simplicity is like seeing things from a bird's eye view. When we are too involved and clinging to our activities, everything seems complex. By detaching we can gain perspective on clarity on what is going on.
  • "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour."
  • William Blake from "Auguries of innocence"
  • Renouncing eating meat has turned was first from compassion but after a while turned to judgement. When we renounce it is a choice we make for the better of all, but not a moral imperative.
  • While distributing clothes to homeless people recently, a homeless person responded by not accepting it, feeling no need for extra clutter or for things he doesn't need.
  • When we are born we start in state of utter simplicity and innocence, then we are conditioned into beliefs and habits which add clutter. One way to simplify is to unlearn and shed past conditioning.
  • Usually simplicity is associated with material objects. Sometimes accummulations occurs by collecting experiences, being involved in what many others are doing.
  • The thought of 'simplicity should look a certain way and mean certain behaviours' often gets in the way.
  • At Baja Fresh the 'bare burritto' is a good lesson in simplicity.
  • There was a time in life where everything I owned fit in a duffel bag, which felt so good. Made a decision a long time ago only to have as much clothing as needed, not to have the retailer's merchandising my closet.
  • Feels good to incorporate uncooked food into diet.
  • Often when we think of simplicity we think in terms of less quantity and giving up something. Someone asked recently "are you on the simple side of simplicity or the complex side of simplicity?" In one way, we have all these modern technologies that make our lives simpler, cell phone, car. We arrive at simplicity through different means and it is us to discover what it means to us.
  • Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
  • Recently forced into simplicity, during a need to coordinate much, laptop and pda stopped working. Learned that it is ok to use these things, but not get used to them.
  • Someone saintly was asked "If you are so much of a saint, why are you attached to this ring you are wearing?" .. So the Saint gave the ring away without resistance.
  • "If you truly love something, let it go. If it comes back it is yours, if it doesn't, it never was."
  • During the homeless clothing drive, realized the event is inappropriately labeled as "help-the-homeless" because we were those that were helped. While listening to a homeless man speaking, so many thoughts went by of "what are the passerby's thinking? what is he saying? When should I go?" and then realized that this is like meditation-in-action, just letting the thoughts go by without attaching to them.
  • The internet can create a lot of mental clutter, by just going from place to place without much convergence or internalization.
  • One of the ways to get closer to simplicity is by being present in the moment
  • Simplicity to me is remembering I'm human.
  • Read an article about intentions behined actions, in it, a long-time vegeterian visited the house of a butcher who mentioned he prays over every animal he kills, so she ate some meat.
  • As a lifelong vegeterian, only recently did I realize that for some eating meat is a matter of survival.
  • The research of Chandra Bose and Luther Burbank has shown that plants too have feelings and emotions and can feel pain.
  • just by simply sitting in meditation the clutter of the mind clears up. Outwardly things keep changing, but internally this kind of sitting can help permanently.
  • Nipun & Guri were given a tour of monasteries in Singapore and ate at a restaurant where you actually choose to pay whatever you feel the food is worth.

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