Mahatma Gandhi said: “Live simply so that others may simply live”. To live simply was the way of being for many cultures in the past, both in the East and West; to live in harmony with nature and its cycles, and to take only from the earth that which was absolutely necessary. In a society where there is over-consumption and very little recycling, many of us are recognizing the truth of Ghandi’s wisdom, but don’t know how or where to begin making a change.
Perhaps it is appropriate to define waste. Waste is a relative term and what may be considered waste to one person, may be thought to be a requisite for another, for example daily exercise and meditation.
Waste can be defined as that which is in excess of what is really necessary. For example, that extra pair of shoes or handbag – did I really need to buy them?
Waste is greed – that extra slice of chocolate cake or portion of French-fries. Did they really add to the fullness of my appetite, or just to my already growing flab? Waste is Ego – believing that since I can afford more, so I have the right to waste what I already have. Waste can also be applicable to non-material things such as time, breath and thoughts; our most precious assets. How much time did I waste on the phone gossiping, or how much energy did I waste shopping for that perfect outfit just because the ego wasn’t quite satisfied?
To live simply is about learning the true meaning of contentment, humility and self-respect. Although the Mahatma was mocked by some for his simple lifestyle and appearance – for to them it represented impoverishment – he looked them straight in the eyes with a smile and a confidence that made them redefine poverty.
It seems that the more people have, the more worry and insecurity they feel. There is a certain freedom that comes from owning little and having to manage less. An abundant life is not about having more but about living better.
Imagine globe-trotting with five suitcases and then again imagine globe-trotting with a simple back pack. The sense of freedom that comes from carrying less means you have more flexibility and more fun!
As I sit on this little mountain top in India it simply reinforces the fact that people can not only survive, but thrive very happily with very little. Although on this picturesque peak there are the affluent with their monster houses, there are also the ‘poor’ villagers who have a rich smile on their faces that people in the West would die for.
Being caught up in excesses is a lot like being caught up in a web of our own making… it may look pretty awesome, even a work of art, but in reality it’s a trap. We get caught up in the allure and glamour of all that we own and possess only to find that we are being consumed by our own creation. It is only a matter of time before we ‘wake up’ and exclaim: ‘I want to be free!’
Another important aspect is that of the karma we create as we use the world’s resources. As we consume more, it means others are being deprived. Thus if I take something and I don’t appreciate it, value it or use it in the right way, then I am adding more to the burden of my own karma.
It’s time… to live more simply and in harmony with the world and others? Consider, is adding to my possessions adding to my peace and happiness? The truth is that the less I consume, the more content I feel. Living simply means more than simply living.
Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source – ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London