Are the values ​​advocated by frugalism close to those of Buddhism?

- through Henry Oudin

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The concept of "happy sobriety" advocated by Pierre Rabhi for ten years is gaining more and more followers in developed countries. Frugalism surfs on this trend which is also very close to the principles of Dharma. Achieving a balance of being and having by practicing sobriety and frugality and rejecting all extreme behavior as recommended by the historical Buddha, is indeed highly recommended to practice the middle way, but not only. All ascetics, all religions combined, devote themselves to it.

Saving to retire earlier, making do with little to live on and knowing how to make the most of it… Whether its objective is spiritual, philosophical or ecological, in the 1st century, frugalism (XNUMX) is on the rise. In the United States, it takes the form of “early retirement”: individuals stop working to devote themselves to simple activities and pleasures. In France, the Mouvement Colibris, founded by Pierre Rabhi, speaks of “happy sobriety” and encourages people to consume less. In Japan, a current of thought stemming from Mahayana Zen and Taoism, wabi sabi, advocates humility, detachment and benevolence. One of its representatives, a young Buddhist monk, author and very popular blogger, Koike Ryûnosuke, assures in a book praise of the little "With or without money, I am happy". This new form of consumption is in line with the teaching of the Buddha who, recalls Marie-Stella Boussemart, nun of the Gelugpa school, “has always advocated the middle way and formally advised against extreme behaviour. »

Sobriety and meditation

Adopting a frugal lifestyle means making new choices. This is what these practitioners testify to who have changed their lives to devote themselves to the practice. The president of the association Dhagpo Kagyu Ling (Dordogne), Jean-Guy de Saint-Perier, 57, for example, left his job as an engineer and a salary of 3000 and 5000 euros per month to “devote time to study, meditation and voluntary activity”.

Lama Namdak first practiced frugality when he was a monk. Having made his vows in 2007, currently administrator of Dhagpo Kundreul Ling, in Auvergne, he now survives, at 58, thanks to the financial support of his family, his friends and the donations he receives as a teacher... His German companion, Lama Jungné, a former nun, also leads a simple existence at the age of 48: "If we wanted more money, we would need a fixed salary, so we would have less time to devote to work on the mind ".

“Possessions, you have to take care of them: it takes time and it creates worries. Attachment to the material can cloud the mind. » Lama Jungne

According to Alexis Lavis, philosopher and specialist in Chinese and Indian thought, “frugality corresponds to the lifestyle of the Buddhist monk, entirely devoted to meditative practice. Marie-Stella Boussemart adds that "although the suddenist path of Chàn/Zen and the progressive path of other Buddhisms have noticeably different approaches, the qualities of frugality and sobriety, in the broad sense, are strongly recommended by the Buddhist masters of all times, from the Buddha to the contemporary masters. »

A thirst never quenched

Why sobriety? According to Koike Ryûnosuke, “pleasure represents the interpretation of a situation of less suffering. We suffer when we do not possess an object, but pleasure felt by obtaining it only lasts the time of appropriation. Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer agrees: “This basic drive is what is called “thirst” in this tradition. As soon as our brain finds something that promises us some kind of pleasure, we want to believe that accessing it will bring lasting happiness. But we notice very quickly that after having obtained it, there is, again, quickly a need for "new", "again", affirms the former engineer, who says he was fascinated by the beautiful cars in her youth. “One day, I got the one I dreamed of, but it didn't satisfy me and after a few weeks, I wanted a coupé cabriolet… This thirst is valid for all objects of desire, whether material , relational, affective, intellectual or personal accomplishment. “It's like drinking salt water, you're never satisfied,” illustrates Lama Namdak.

Valérie Duvauchelle, a Zen practitioner since 2000, considers frugality to be “a consequence of practice. There is to enter into the confidence of the abundance of existence by anchoring, by sitting. It calms our psyche and nourishes our spirit. In the same way, anchoring supposes, while eating, to concentrate on textures, colors… In addition, it helps to maintain a link with ethics. " Lama Jungné specifies: "Overall, my consumption, in the broad sense, must cause the least possible nuisance for animals, nature, producers. »

Thus, in the opinion of all, there is no need to accumulate material goods to feel prosperity. In addition, “possessions have to be taken care of: it takes time and it creates worries. Attachment to the material can cloud the mind,” says Lama Jungné. Jean-Guy de Saint-Périer still remembers the day he found his car scratched by keys. “Every morning, I then wondered what else had been done to me. Once sold, I felt light, because I no longer had to worry about it. With this in mind, Valérie Duvauchelle considers that “if we really put ourselves in the posture of the beggar who receives life, we are deeply satisfied. Therefore, we buy less, we consume less. We naturally return to the correctness. An attitude that everyone, Buddhists or not, can finally adopt

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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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