Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Extreme Minimalism

Looking around Komorebi when I got up this morning, I thought “I suppose this is extreme minimalism”.

I’ve read – avidly – about extreme minimalists (I love this video), and wondered for forty years how to get down to that place of walking between raindrops, passing imperceptibly through the busy world, moving on like Snuffkin in the first light of day.

I’ve read and read about St Francis and his first followers and Franciscans now, about Zen monks and Trappists, about gypsies living in vardoes and bow-tops, about Dan Price in his hobbit-hole and Daniel Suelo in his cave in Utah, about the Amish and about capsule wardrobes and beloved Innermost House . . . read and thought, thought and read.

It turns out that the Minimalist World has Important Minimalists in it – Minimalist Gurus – Legends! Who knew? Interesting people. They speak good sense, and have about them a kind of dignity and effectiveness that's so attractive.

Then suddenly it seems to have happened.

I’ve studied and struggled to get to where I am now, for a very long while. Yet at the same time it seems to be just something that happened to me, nothing more than who I am.

I am not yet where I want to be. I have a way to go. My guiding light is the word humilis – lowly, earthy, humble. My life is very reclusive, virtually invisible. My income is small, just hovering around the tax threshold, and I've figured out ways to earn a living by just being who I am and teaching the truth I see, helping out where I can from my own reality. My possessions are very few now. And yet, the less I have, the more clear it becomes how much I have. The simpler my life becomes, the better I can see the complications and accretions.

But for today I’ve been captivated by that insight into the nature of what I suppose is vocation – of a sort. That it is on the one hand something you must study and struggle for; and yet on the other hand it’s just something that happens to you, nothing more than the accidental inevitable of who you really are.


gretchen said...

bless you, pen, your words and your journey always encourage me in my own quest for ever greater simplicity. you ARE a blessing! and here is one back for you from our old friend rumi:

the Absolute works with nothing.
the workshop, the materials
are what does not exist.

try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.
be a spot of ground where nothing is growing,
where something might be planted,
a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh, I love that! Rumi always hits the spot!

What this poem says touches exactly upon what I was feeling and thinking this afternoon. I sat in Komorebi, having just rubbed wood-food into most of the floor, smelling the fragrance of the oily stuff and looking at the patterns of light-through-leaves on the floor. And I was thinking about the delight and pleasure of Nothing. How peaceful and nourishing it felt to sit and do nothing, just thinking, in a room with almost nothing in it, nothing essential in the calendar for the rest of the day. I guess it sounds rather selfish! I do have a lot of things to prepare and attend to in the course of this week, but, you know - there was a space, and it was full of fragrance and quiet and light. Magical.
My favourite chapter from the Tao:

DaisyAnon said...

As so often Pen, our paths have momentarily crossed and you have articulated exactly where I am. Although our lives are very different and we have come at it in different ways from different directions.

Suddenly it has just happened that the solitude and silence I have wanted all my life are there. My cup does indeed run over, full measure. All I have to do is not get distracted by activities.

What you say about vocation is so true.

Simplicity and minimalism were never my primary goal but it seems to be a necessary part of solitude and silence. Although I don't think I will ever manage to get as minimalist as you.

Luke 12: 27 has been on my mind recently. 'Consider the lilies how they grow, they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.'

I am reading 'Zen Gifts to Christians' by Robert Kennedy, Zen teacher and Jesuit priest.

I have also been reminded of St Benedict's advice that an aspiring hermit must learn to live in community first. I am beginning to understand the truth of this and the reasons.

Like you I have done my apprenticeship, my 'novitiate' if you will!

A bit of a muddle here, just thoughts that have been in my mind recently.

BLD in MT said...

Oh, yes! I see it well. I think I have had to study and struggle to get to where I am because it is against the flow, so to speak, but at the same time I am not really struggling...its just who I am. Being me. Its the tide I row against that is the struggle. Not my boat...

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Daisy, hi Beth - good to hear from you! xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Rebecca Sylvan - thank you for your messages here! They are reaching me but as they are private messages I've deleted them not published them. I've texted your phone with my email address and replied to you on QuakerQuaker. If you don't get my text, comment again here leaving your email address. I won't publish it but will contact you by email. xxx

Buzzfloyd said...

Yes, I think life is a process of growing into yourself.

Pen Wilcock said...

Perhaps a revealing more than a becoming? Or both? xx

Anne said...

It may be called extreme minimalism but I'm sure it feels much better than what the word extreme sounds like. I don't think I will reach that point for a good while because of my books and music collection and bits I haven't let go of yet. But, the way I focus is on the core of my things being able to fit in a suitcase, packed up in a hurry if need be. The rest all being left behind, so I am working on that. Like my books and music just belong to the space. My clothes and shoes, makeup, perfume, shampoo and so forth are getting shrunk down to all fit in. But ultimate goal would look more like your space.

Pen Wilcock said...

It took ages, but I uploaded my music collection into my iTunes, and passed on the hard copies.
I prefer reading paper books to ebooks but am determined to get used to the different system. Sometimes people give me paper books, and I read them then pass them on.
I have kept one - David Whiteland's wonderful "Book of Pages", which was never made into an ebook.