Friday, April 18, 2008

Garden of Simplicity

by Duane Elgin
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Simplicity is the new mantra for the overworked, over-stressed, and over-cluttered, and for those who want to lighten their impact on the Earth. The author of the classic book on voluntary simplicity says the ways to simplicity are many ...

In the midst of our nation's sensational economic boom, a quiet and quite unexpected revolution in simple living is steadily transforming our society. Slowly but surely and ever-growing number of people are consciously rejecting the traditional trappings of affluence. they are choosing instead to live well within their means, achieving a life that is inwardly rich, not outwardly showy.

There are many ways people are orienting their lives around this yearning for simplicity. Here are some of the diverse approaches that I see thriving in this garden of simplicity.

Choiceful Simplicity- Simplicity means choosing our path through life consciously and deliberately. As a path that emphasizes freedom, simplicity also means staying focused, diving deep, and not being distracted by consumer culture. It means consiously organizing our lives so we give our true gifts to the world.

Commercial Simplicity- Simplicity means that there is a growing market for products and services that sustain resources and provide lasting utility. Similarly, a new enterprise model recognizes natural ecosystems and healthy workers as important measures of productivity.

Compassionate Simplicity- Simplicity means that we "choose to live simply so that others may simply live." A compassionate simplicity means following a path of reconciliation with other peoples, with other species, and with future generations.

Ecological Simplicity- Simplicity means limiting our consumption to avoid destroying or depleting finite resources. It also means developing creative and sustainable alternatives like solar power and telecommuting.

Elegant Simplicity- Simplicity means that the way we live our lives represents a work of unfolding artistry. An elegant simplicity is an understated yet highly pragmatic aesthetic that contrasts with the excess of consumerist lifestyles.

Frugal Simplicity- Simplicity means cutting back on spending that is not truly serving our lives and practicing skillful management of our personal finances. through these practices, we can achieve greater financial independence while decreasing the impact of our consumption upon the Earth.

Natural Simplicity- Simplicity means connecting with the ecology of life and balancing ur experience of the human-created environments with time in nature. We experience a deep reverence for the community of life on Earth and accept that the nonhuman life of plants and animals has its dignity and rights just as human life does.

Political Simplicity- Simplicity means organizing our collective lives in ways that enable us to live more lightly on the Earth which, in turn, involves changes in nearly every area of public life - from transportation to education and media, to the design of our homes cities and workplaces.

Soulful Simplicity- Simplicity means approaching life as a meditation and cultivating our experience of intimate connection with all that exists. By living simply, we can more directly awaken to the living universe that sustains us, moment by moment. Soulful simplicity is more concerned with consciously tasting life in its unadorned richness that with a particular standard or manner of material living. In cultivating a soulful connection with life, we look beyond surface appearances and bring our interior aliveness into relationships of all kinds.

Uncluttered Simplicity- Simplicity means taking charge of a life that is too busy, too stressed, and too fragmented. An uncluttered simplicity means cutting back on trivial distractions, both material and nonmaterial, and focusing on essentials. As Thoreau said, "Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify!"

As with other ecosystems, this garden-scape is comprised of a rich diversity of expressions. With each conscious expression of simplicity, we contribute to the richness of our own lives and those of generations to come.