“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify.” ~ Henry Thoreau
Our biggest teacher of simplicity is nature.
Nature never breaks her own laws. Nature mends and cooperates. Nature flows and allows. Nature never possesses or disposes. Nature does not fear—it neither has enemies nor anxieties. It knows not of death or betrayal or depression.
Rather, nature simply revels in continuity.
Within nature unfolds an expression of true beauty—one that still remains unfathomable to the human mind. It holds a simplicity that genius philosophers, mathematicians, painters, poets, and musicians have attempted to attain in their theories. In their lyrics and tunes. With their equations.
Yes, our greatest ideas have been the simplest.
Sadly, most humans insist on making life complicated. In our greed for bigger and extravagant things, we have become selfishness and aggressive toward one another. We have harmed plants and animals and are desperate to claim superiority over the universe.
We have broken every known law of the universe: we still wage war against each other and engaged in petty politics. In the year 2018—more than 200 years after industrialization—the majority of us remain immersed in poverty.
Perhaps it might be because humans tend to think that complexity is a mark of mental prowess. We have created rules and customs to fight our natural instincts. We are able to distract ourselves (and thus avoid) the true meaning of our existence on Earth. Worse, we have assumed superiority over plants and animals living on the planet with us.
“People who pride themselves on their ‘complexity’ and deride others for being ‘simplistic’ should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.” ~ Thomas Sowell
But really, life is indeed simple.
It takes a touch of genius to keep things simple. To avoid the details. To overlook the unnecessary. To do away with the trivial. To detach from rules and customs that no longer serve. To learn to let go when things lose relevance.
Wabi-sabi is an ancient Asian philosophy centred on simplicity. It focuses on acceptance of life as is. It celebrates the beauty of things that are imperfect, temporary, and incomplete. It finds beauty in things that are modest and humble and unconventional. It is present-oriented. Its principles summarised are:
Nothing is finished.
Nothing is perfect.
These principles are contrary to the ones that dictate our lives in the 21st century. Our economic and therefore social structures are future-oriented. We seek an end goal. We fear and resist. We have fortified our minds and built defences against our own fellow beings. We have created borders between nations and compete with each other. We have trapped our thinking to limiting beliefs. We are deep-fried in aggression. Egos are waging wars against humanity. We have allowed dull and humourless faces to lead us.
Imagine a moving mass of patterns. The ease with which water flows in a river. Imagine the grace and freedom of birds in the skies. Imagine the warmth of a distant fire in our hearts—for each other. For our world. Imagine connectedness. Imagine simplicity.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
~ John Lennon
Bonus: 5 Mindful Things to Do Each Morning
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