"A Desert Blossom"
-in my garden-
While browsing through a local bookstore the other day I took note of how many "lifestyle magazines" there were, and most of them featured some sort of story about "living simply." For the most part, the magazines contained low-fat recipes using organic ingredients, exercise tips and suggestions for home decor in a minimalist fashion - eating well, staying healthy and "Feng Shui" decorating - the pathway to living a "simple life."
As I looked through those magazines it struck me that "living simply" is essentially at the core of every spiritual discipline, but eating a low-carb diet doesn't necessarily help a person to "live simply." Furthermore "living simply" doesn't necessarily mean, "living poorly." You don't have to live in a shack or a hut or drive a run-down used car to live a simple life.
For me, the meaning of "simple living" on the spiritual journey is perhaps best explained by the Buddhist teaching about "detachment" - living life without "craving" or "clinging" to anything or anyone.
Things and possessions: I can enjoy my "stuff" in life without being unduly attached to any of it- to my house or car or money or clothes. I live simply when I don't constantly "crave" more - always desiring the bigger and better, newer and faster. And. I live simply when I don't cling to any of my "stuff" -"squirreling it away, stacking it all up in big piles, ready and willing to share what I have with others, especially with those who have less.
Power and status: I live simply when I don't devote my entire life to climbing the ladder of success - craving more power and greater recognition, often climbing over others to get to where I want to go. I live simply when I don't spend my waking hours strategizing about how I might impress others because I so highly prize their opinion of me.
Time: "Time" is not something I own or possess. When I live in the past, clinging to my memories or when I spend my time craving future success in the days to come, I am not living simply. I live simply by accepting the "gift" of each and every moment - paying attention to the revelations of the "now."
Ideas and opinions: Like any human being, of course I have my own beliefs, ideas, and opinions about almost everything in life, but if I rigidly cling to my view of the world and think that my answers are the right answers, I will never experience truth. I live simply when I am able to hold onto my ideas lightly and always allow my answers to be turned into questions.
Other People: I cherish all the people in my life- my spouse and children, friends, neighbors, colleagues. I value the woman who delivers my mail and the guy who checks out my groceries at the supermarket. I live simply when I can hold all these people dear to my heart without clinging to any of them or using them to meet my own needs.
God: "God" is Holy Presence, wild and untamed, unable to be boxed up, categorized, or even named. I live simply when, with an uncluttered mind and wide-open heart, I welcome that Holy Presence every minute of every day, crying out: "surprise me!"
"Live simply!" The spiritual pathway is paved with wonderful surprises all along the way.