Probably the most famous advocate of simplicity is Duane Elgin, the author of the timeless ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ – it’s a wonderful book, full of authenticity and integrity. Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts:
• Voluntary simplicity is described as the avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life.
• He quotes Arnold Toynbee, who concluded that society’s growth was found in the Law of Progressive Simplification. Namely the ability of society to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the non-material side, thereby advancing its culture, capacity for compassion, sense of community and democracy.
• To live more simply is to encounter life more directly. It is life in its vastness, subtlety and preciousness that is the context within which simpler living acquires its most compelling meaning and significance.
• We live almost completely immersed in a socially constructed reality that so fully absorbs our energy and attention that virtually none remains to experience the wonder of our existence.
• Clarification between our ‘needs’ and our ‘wants’ are marked.
• Simplicity is essential if we are to avoid the evolutionary detours of either ecological collapse of bureaucratic stagnation.
The book is full of stories, such as my own, of people who have found reward in gentle and conscious simplification. The message – try it for your self, escape the mad rush for a while and come to the gentle realization much of what we do, we worry about and we get stressed over is simply superfluous.