Cultivate simplicity

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Too much of everything. The accumulation of objects not only clutters our environment, it also clutters our minds and makes us dependent. To lighten up in consciousness is to rediscover the sense of the essential.

If we marvel at the aestheticism of Zen, its poetic purity, its so graphic minimalism, it is because we evolve in cluttered, suffocating environments, stuffed to bursting with objects whose, for the most part, the usefulness and beauty remain to be proven. But fortunately, over the past few years, we have gradually become aware that not only our materialistic bulimia is the number 1 poison on the planet, but also that it makes us individually dependent, stressed, frustrated.

Zen invites us to rediscover our true nature, the one that beyond the ego, its voracity, its narcissism, its fears, knows how to enjoy the essential. Because choosing simplicity is choosing freedom. By learning to make the difference between desire and need, possession and security. Have you decided to clean up? Get ready to revise your values, shake up your bearings and dust off your beliefs. Your well-being, physical and mental, is at this price.

Lighten up in consciousness

Start by taking a card and a pencil and copying out these six questions. Do not act until you have chewed and rechewed them. Haste promotes regret and remorse. This questionnaire concerns decorative objects, furniture, everyday appliances and clothing.

• Do I really need this item? (does it serve me: never, regularly, daily)

• Does this object satisfy me, affectively and/or aesthetically?

• What space (physical and mental) would I gain by getting rid of it?

• Who would use this object more than me?

• Who would appreciate this object more than me?

• Does owning it take up my time or space, or is it really doing me a favor?

Choosing simplicity is choosing freedom.

Too often, we throw away what no longer pleases us or clutters us up. Consider donating to charities or those around you. Giving circulates vital energy and reminds us that human beings are not islands. Neither dependent nor independent, but interdependent...

Learn to fast

The most fruitful discipline is that which consists in knowing how to say no to oneself.

• Commit to following a no-drink diet for a week. Very politically incorrect, but very healthy spiritually!

• Buy only what is strictly necessary.

• Keep your television set off.

• Give yourself at least ten minutes of total inactivity every day: without moving, without speaking, without listening to music, without reading. Do nothing.

• Treat yourself to a “non-shopping” afternoon. Walk the streets, look at the windows, enter the stores and observe the faces and behaviors of those you meet. Become aware of all the energy that is put at the service of acquisition, of possession. Savor the subtle pleasure of not following the movement...

• Prepare at least one dish every day without seasoning or sauce to appreciate the flavor of each product. You will get used to eating mindfully and buying better quality products.

Consume differently

• Stop buying on impulse. Defer systematically your "purchases-desire". From the most modest to the most important. Let time pass and save the amount corresponding to the object. If, after a fortnight or a month, your desire has not waned, take action in all conscience.

• Always choose quality. Neither novelty nor trend. Investing in quality has a price. This sometimes requires effort and sacrifice, so a thoughtful and active approach.

• Ask yourself sincerely: “What desires, what fantasies do I project onto this garment or this object? Will they be used to improve my image and my self-esteem? If, obviously, this is what they will serve you for, tell yourself that you are filling a breakthrough skinskin. No object, no clothing can ever make you lovable or estimable in your eyes. Becoming aware of this is a step towards liberation.

• Don't offer anymore to rid yourself of guilt, to make yourself loved, to buy emotional or relational peace. Avoid this bargaining with yourself.

• Dare to say “no” to your children when they systematically ask for this or that new product touted in advertising or by their friends.

• Treat yourself to time, reading, walking, music, nourishing discussions… Get into the habit of consuming “free” without moderation.

Maintain order and cleanliness

• Neither dust nor disorder should settle in your home, they weaken the energy.

• After cleaning, open the windows wide (even in winter!) and let air and light into your home. Hunt for old newspapers, useless papers, regularly empty baskets and garbage cans. The surface of your mirrors must be impeccable, ideally the panes of your windows should sparkle!

• No mercy for chipped dishes, dented pans, peeling varnishes and paints. Hence the importance of investing in quality and handling objects with care.

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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