I’m not an idealist but I do root for simplicity becoming our global nature one day. It is an underestimated quality that is suppressed due to the stressful demands of society. In a world that is so enamored by disguise and role-playing, having the ability to remain simple is a wonderful gift. I call it a gift because it cannot be learnt. Simplicity is too authentic to learn. But it can definitely be released from within ourselves.
When we say ‘simple life’, there is a perception of ‘less’- like fewer things, an ordinary lifestyle, curtailed expenses and experiences. On the surface, it may seem like simple living, but simplicity is a much deeper aspect of this. And it can be experienced without the idea of deprivation or doing without. In any case, a deliberate imposition of a simple life through rigor or self-denial may feed the ego due to a sense of accomplishment attached to it, and become an obstacle to know it.
Yet sometimes people define simplicity based on what they spend for. For instance, in India most families consider a flat-screen T.V, a trendy car, the latest mobile and jewelry as accepted essentials to aspire to in their simple lives, but buying a bottle of water, generous tipping or using a face wash for the body, is considered an opulence. About six years ago, I bought a scientifically designed bed for posture comfort. Some friends thought I was crazy to spend a pretty package on a ‘simple thing like a bed’ and immediately dismissed it as an indulgence, especially for a yoga practitioner. I was amazed at their ideology which basically summed up as, simple people slept in simple beds. By the same measure, one would think that those who live well, enjoy life’s comforts, dress up, and spend money on the pleasures of life, would be strangers to simplicity. And yet, surprisingly, some of the most successful people like Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata and Bill Gates come across as inherently simple. When one lives in a deep bond with oneself, it doesn’t really matter how you live. Simplicity is of the mind, of perception.
If you really look at it, complexity, the opposite of simplicity, is a matter of perception. For example, when you focus on numbers alone, math looks complex, but when you use logic with it, math becomes simple. If we apply this to thoughts, we see a similar pattern. We often look at extremely straightforward situations in a twisted manner. Take this recent example of a nutritionist I was consulting. At the end of six months, I felt like taking a break from her services since I was traveling. So I cleared my account and told her I wanted to stop for a while. The thought of losing a client upset her a lot. She became aggressive and would not even consider my request. I could see that she was using aggression and reproach only to induce guilt, which was totally unnecessary. It helped neither of us. Had she just supported my decision, I would have renewed the consultation after my trip and she would not have lost a client. It was really that simple!
Ironically, the exactness of simplicity is contrary to this kind of random insecure thinking. Sometimes we meet people who are easy to approach, straightforward and at ease with themselves. On closer observation it becomes evident that they are complete individuals who are totally comfortable in their own skin. They are their own friend. They share a fantastic relationship with themselves. They live life in a flow, as it comes. They don’t have the need to enforce confidence or use manipulation to feel better. Their minds are flossed daily. It’s certainly not easy to achieve this but it’s worth every bit of effort because it frees you from any kind of pressure of living or being.
But since simplicity is a way of being where the standard blueprint of life does not condition the mind, it takes years to master. But Yoga and Meditation quicken this pace for us. They work magic on our mind. What I have observed through my practice over the years is that the number of daily thoughts begin to lessen. The constant thinking relents to silence. You end up thinking less but you also think more effectively because you are not besieged by the noise of your mind. Fewer thoughts make space for living in the present moment where a feeling of being connected with everything around takes over. The end result is simplicity, an intelligent and unpretentious way to live. When you find yourself in simplicity, nothing and no one can interfere to disturb who you truly are. It is a great liberation.
To conclude, in order to know simplicity, one has to become authentic. The layers of make-up that are covering our natural state has complicated our thinking too much. It has led to psychological manipulation of an entire society, be it through politics, business, marketing and even within family. Da Vinci has called it the ultimate sophistication, and it is time to choose it.