Monday, 21 April 2014

Simplicity thoughts

A friend on QuakerQuaker posted about her journey into simplicity.  I won't give her identity here in case she wouldn't wish it, or talk about the comment thread, because though QuakerQuaker isn't confidential, it is a context and Friends could reasonably expect what they said in that context to stay there.

But in reading about her explorations and reflections, I realized I’d formulated further conclusions of my own, which I wanted to share with you here for your consideration, as well as in the comment I left on QuakerQuaker.
The Friend on that site wondered how others find the peace amid increasing meaninglessness in modern day-to-day  life. She asked what brings us joy and peace, what we have let go of, and what we do to stay connected to Life.
And in reply I said the following.
"I have been fascinated by simplicity all my adult life, trying (and often failing) to find my way into a sustainable and realistic practice of simplicity. I've found plenty that are neither, and wasted a lot of time and money on them too.  Here are my findings so far:  
1) As they say, "blossom where you're planted"; I believe realistic and sustainable simplicity involves learning to live lightly within one's actual context, rather than complicating life by creating an alternative reality and oscillating between the two. 
2) Authenticity - truthfulness - creates simplicity. Restless aspirations, trying to fulfil the expectations of others, and wanting to be someone different complicate life badly. 
3) Wholegrains and vegetables promote simplicity because they diminish internal pendulum swings (which are exacerbated by meat and sugar).  Simplicity is strongly linked to interior peace, and so are whole grains and vegetables. 
4) It takes a while to process assimilated information. Sometimes, in my search for simplicity, I get so much of information/ideas/opinions on board, so forceful, that it backs up and makes my mind sick - mental over-production. It occurs to me to limit information, but act on it. 
5) Of all the things that promote realistic and sustainable, honest simplicity, the best and most beautiful is sharing. The more we share the less we end up with. The less we have, the easier it becomes to share. Sharing is the most practical route into simplicity, and it generates joy. Simplicity is the only doorway into spirituality, sharing is the simplest route into simplicity. Sharing also helps safeguard against grabbing back - because others are now holding firm to what once was all your own."

When I did my 365 chuckout – my year of getting rid of at least one thing for each day – something I gave away (none of these things were sold, all were given) was a fishing chair, on Freecycle.  I treasured (and blogged) the email I received in response:
"Thank you very much for the fishing chair you have made our young son very happy as he has just started to go fishing with his Dad and he now has his own chair to sit on He’s actually having his lunch on it now. Nicky".

It gave me such delight – much more than ever the chair did or than the small amount of money I could have got by selling it. Sharing is the happiest way into simplicity. I recommend.


Tony Collins said...

Of all the valuable protocols you have posted here, the most difficult, to my mind, is to guard the boundaries of the mind - to hear the laments of the world, but not to be thrown off balance by the latest disaster or petition. Any suggestions?

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes - I think this is about breathing in and breathing out. If you just breathe in and have trouble breathing out, you are diagnosed with asthma. If you breathe out and never breathe in, you are dead.
The root chakra (colour, red) in the traditional Indian system, is located in your sitting area, your bottom. "Bottom" is the archaic English word for substance - wealth. Thus the root chakra governs stability, and both assimilation and elimination. So this is a root chakra issue - taking in and stability balanced with elimination, letting go.
Boundaries are to some extent helpful, but gates are the focus, because to be over-boundaries creates dullness and stagnation. Jesus spoke of being the gateway, leading his sheep out to pasture and in to rest. That's the thing.
Problems arise where things accumulate - this is the difficulty with the meat and sugar - meat accumulates in the gut resulting in toxic stagnation, sugar accumulates in the liver resulting in fatty disease there - and one's "liver" is rightly named.
Therefore I think the issue is about balance, and inflow/outflow. What comes in must not be so fast, numerous or concentrated as to exceed one's capacity to metabolise/process and express.
This is my point 4 in the original post - to limit incoming information, but act on what does come in - "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest".
Then there's the question of, as it were, keeping up with the flow of the traffic - managing the hurly-burly of modern life and technology; of course one can (at least some of the time) travel a different road.
Feeding in to all of this is the Chinese art of "wu-wei" - non-doing - fulcrum practise - the skill of being the right person in the right time at the right place, so that minimal action achieves maximal effect. This is achieved by paying attention.

I hope that helps and is not too complicated.

AbiSomeone said...

Thanks for posting the song! ;^) It is one I never heard... I miss the days of singing and playing when the boys were young.... I hope to one day have the joy of grandchildren, but that won't be for quite some time. One of the down sides to having children at, ahem, an advanced age!

Julie Faraway said...

I would like to hire you to come and sing me to sleep during the next few months. Don't say you're not available or can't fly or need to write or whatever. Your voice is a comfort and your smile so heartening. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Abi - yes, with nursery rhymes, I always tend to assume if our family knows them then the entire world surely does too - and it suddenly occurred to me; maybe not :0) xx

Julie, I can envisage a person regretting making that request .. . ;0) xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Kathleen - thanks for your comment. You said not to publish it as it was just a technical experiment, this is just me letting you know it got through okay. x