“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci
But when one talks about Simplicity, some may consider it to be a state of mediocrityor lack of paraphernalia, pomp and show. If we see the root of all scientific inventions and technological advancements, it is to make experiences ‘better’by making our lives ‘simpler’; where simplicity is considered to be a state which is devoid of any complexity, burden, effort or obsolescence. But, behind the lens of all these quite different perceptions of simplicity, what is simplicity truly and why is it important to incorporate simplicity for achieving sustainability?
# Simplicity is a state where the inner world is stable and is able to stabilize the outer world too
The human mind is the most amazing, powerful and complex creation of nature. With our minds, we can fathom the mysteries of the universe. But it is this mind- that we claim to be ours, yet complain to be out of our control. Such a magnificent tool, yet so unstable, subject to several modifications and afflictions. There are many factors that contribute to its instability. Unless they are neutralized, we do not experience peace. Understanding the fluctuations of the mind and normalizing them is the central feature of simplicity.
Unwinding the mind and to think simple is to refrain from complicatingour original thinking pattern by introducing the externally driven feelings for the self or others. When we consider ourselves to be a name, a nationality, a religious practitioner, a professional role or a familial liability, thoughts related to all these external identities originate and cloud the mind. And when we are all of this at the same time, imagine what our mind is going through! And when these peripheral identities or our outer world changes, the whole castle of thoughts and feelings within our mind experience a roller- coaster…
Thus to be simple is to be conscious of our core, original, eternalidentity, which is constant no matter how much our peripheral identities change. Understanding our permanent identity – that we are a sentient being of light- a Soul carrying out all these vivid roles, makes our job simpler by silencing our mind and giving a pause to the unnecessary thoughts related to these roles that create unrest in our mind.Just as still and clear water allows us to see what’s on the bottom of the pond; when our inner world becomes stable through the awareness of our true identity, we can explore our inner world. It helps us generate stable and powerful thoughts and we can easily stabilize our words and actions. Thusa mind which is simple and uncomplicated,can now handle these roles and responsibilities much better, actually justifying each one of them. This inside –out approach results in a state of stability and sustainability in the outer world too.
# With Simplicity, our mind is receptive for new ideas and we can achieve great learning in life
“The greatest ideas are the simplest” – William Golding
Sometimes we are exposed to small and simple opportunities or ideas that can prove to be great solutions. But we don’t pay heed to them as we are waiting for something like a big-bang to happen in life, to give us a new learning. We don’t expect simple ideas or things to be effective and hence don’t acknowledge them.
To accept simple ideas as a source of learning, our mind should be stable and not overfull of thoughts. If it is too much occupied, it can’t receive anything new; just as a bag full coins can’t hold any higher denominations of currency. Such a bag weighs more but has an amount of lesser value than a bag of higher denominations of currency. So, to get things going and new ideas coming… Keep It Simple& Sweet!
Just as we ingest food which is then chewed and later digested and absorbed as glucose in the body for further use, the information we take from the surroundings undergoes different stages of absorption.Gathering information is a process of piling up facts; learning means chewing it; while wisdom lies in their simplification.When we are surrounded by loads of information, news floating on the media – not all of which is concerned to us, thoughts about the pending and pressing to-do list, and many more, it becomes difficult for us to come out of the web of theseself created thoughts, and this makes us feel miserable at times. It is like when we eat mouth-full, we can neither swallow it nor chew it properly andover-eating of heavy junk food stuffmakes it further difficult to digest. As a result, much of its energy goes wasted without beinguseful for the body and also leads to accumulation of fats. Similarly, loads of information piled up in the mind makes us difficult to process it and get new learning. Further, the amount of knowledge and wisdom gained is even less as we are not able to digest the whole information. Thus the mind starts feeling heavy and restless.
We often come across the famous mantra by Gandhiji- “Simple Living, High Thinking”. It is so true thatanything which is light in weight is easy to hold and can fly up while anything heavy feels like a burden and comes down. So,a heavy mind can’t reach upto the heights of newness and explore new horizons; it gets locked up in its own cage and can’t be sustained for long. Hence to ensure sustainability, it is important that our mind remains light so that it can fly high and find more ideas and learnings.
# Simplicity in life generates strength, contentment, flexibility, humility and love
Someone asked Life: Why are you so difficult and beyond our reach?
Life smiled and replied: Because you don’t appreciate simple things and things that you have…
…appreciate small – simple things around and things you have… and I will be
simple for you”
Something simple is natural while there is no limit to how far the complexity can be stretched. Stretching an elastic too much can make it brittle causing it to break, while using it within its elastic limits ensures its longevity. So being in our natural and simple state of a soul makes us less strained and stressed and ensures that our mind doesn’t get tired soon. This also increases our inner resilience and strength.
People who are simple, have minimum to no expectations from others and hence no disappointments, making them feel contended.If we wait for the external situations to become favourable and simple we might have to wait for a lifetime to feel contended. However, to be simple towards life is to look at the beauty of each moment, appreciate the simple gifts of nature, rejoice small achievements, value simple ideas and help from others, acknowledge simple learning from events… this makes our life enjoyable, worthwhile and generates contentment.
Just as a rope can be bend to take any shape when it is left free. If the rope is plugged with a lot of holderson it, even though it is a rope, we can’t fold it the way we like. Similarly, the original nature of the soul is simplicity. But when it holds on to several acquired beliefs, situations, expectations, chaos etc, it loses its flexibility.
A simple person is easy going and humble enough to accept and accommodate everyone. He can love others and yet not be affected by the negativity of others. Just as the nature of water is easy and simple, it takes the shape of any container it is poured, can dissolve most of the substances in it but allows dirt and sand to get deposited at the bottom of the container; the people who are easy in their behaviour are adjustable and can adapt to whatever situation they are placed. They don’t hold any negativity against others and are in turn loved by all.
# Be Simple, be a sample and inspiration to others
“A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks- he becomes.” – Mahatma Gandhi
In this ever-changing world of acquired personalities, it is very difficult for one to be oneself, especially when everyone else (sometimes including the person himself) wants one to be someone else. As we have already seen-our original and natural state of being a soul leads to a simple state of mind. As a result, when our thought process is simple, our words and instructions are uncomplicated and our actions reflect clarity, making the overall personality appear positive, pleasant and cheerful. Such simplicity reflects true beauty and elegance. Such a personality attracts everyone and such a mind influences others.
Everyone is the present times seems to be tired of pretending to be someone else or trying to acquire a personality that makes them feel valued by others. Further in this process, they find themselves entangled in competition and negativity. Even though they want to find a way to a simple and happy- blissful life, they themselves don’t have the courage to choose and implement it. In such a case, a simple and happily contended personality spreads an aura of power and bliss around and is a source of inspiration to others.One who is simple can simplify things for others.
To be simple is to be easyin thoughts, words and actions
the mind need not articulate or manipulate on thoughts, making one’s thinking, doing and living simple. If we have to think a lot or make a lot of effort to make others understand then we are not thinking simple. Similarly one should use simple and common words to say the most complicated and uncommon things. This is how a great or efficient teacher is recognized- he makes learning natural and easy for the students by making it simpler. And anything simple and natural is innate and goes into doing and finally living. If something is done through external simulations, it might sometimes go away from the path or vanish before reaching the destination.
If water is allowed to flow over a simple and smooth surface, the flow is continuous with minimumdeposition. While if the surface is rough, water gets accumulated between pebbles and the flow is dispersed. Thus the water collected at the end will not be the same as the actual amount of water that was allowed to pass through the surface. Similarly one’s simple way of life and thinking allows maximum ideas flowing through the mind to be converted into actions and brings maximum output and efficiency. On the contrary if the thinking is complicated, the mind experiences blockages leading to gaps in performance.
# To be Simple is to be detached
When life seems complicated and thoughts appear to be a mesh-wire entangled within itself, the most effective way to feel better is to detach the self from this pool of thoughts, make the thinking simpler and then start afresh with new energy to process or deal with these entangled thoughts.
The most common example of this is the scenario of a traffic jam. During traffic jams, it is a practise to stop the traffic from 3 sides of the crossing and allow the traffic from 1 side to pass for certain time and then regulate the traffic on the rest of the 3 sides by following this pattern. It helps maintain traffic rules and avoid a situation of chaos or traffic jam. If the traffic is jammed, the speed of the vehicle becomes slow, a lot of anarchy is created on road, there might be accidents too with people trying to push others and enter into someone else’ lane and eventually the time taken for all the vehicles to move ahead is much more vis-a-vis a regulated crossing. This is what thinking simple helps us to attain when there are large pieces of information and stimulations being bombarded on the mind from all directions.
# To be Simple, practise Silence
‘Talking is silver and Silence is gold’.
There is power in experiencing silence. Silence is the language of the soul. It is one thing to not come intosound, but what is important is learning how to become quiet inside, to become introverted. When one cultivates introversion, they prefer to be in solitude, and become detached from everything outside. One may be in an external setting, or may even be in the presence of other people, but inside they are separate and still. It’s not just about sitting in silence; it’s about going into the depth of the self and experiencing oneself. When in silence, one can realize one’s own thinking patterns and feelings and understand the self from the core just as a still lake allows one to see what’s on the bed of the lake. When one’s attention is drawn within, then one will not be dependent on the situations outside, and their nature and inner state will be good. When the mind remains silent, the thoughts become positive, peaceful and constructive. One can then create thoughts that give happiness to others also. When one is in peace and in control of ourselves, they are much less likely to react with anger or fear at any event that may take place in our lives.
# Spirituality for Simple Living, Elevated Thinking
Spirituality and its practise through Rajyoga Meditation allows us to remain detached from the complex situations and problems and hence be stable in the natural state of mind and soul. Also spirituality helps one to experience the truth, something which is constant and eternal.
When one understands that they are a sentient being of energy which only uses these external identities to manifest itself and is not really dependent on these, then one can allow the mind to be at rest and experience the natural state. Because something natural is very pure, unadulterated, obvious and comfortable, it makes one experience simplicity. This needs one to be detached from their ideas and old sanskars that arise as a reflection of the self in the various mirrors of external identities. These thoughts and ideas are not aligned to the truth as our peripheral identities which cause these thoughts to arise is not our permanent ones. Hence, thoughts arising as a result of soul consciousness are the pure and elevated ones, the implication of which is a simple and effective life.
Hence, the frequent practice of Rajyoga Meditation will allow one to develop the internal silence that will provide emotional stability. It helps us achieve the state of regulation of the mind, making us feel better.This easy, powerful and practical tool can be used at any moment to reduce tension and achieve a sense of peace and calm that will help deal with situations.