Mahatma Gandhi was once asked to describe an ideal life style and he responded by saying “Simple Living and High Thinking”. I completely agree with his thoughts and have tried (though not fully successfully) to emulate this in my own life.
Simple living is the right way to live. One does not get lasting happiness by living a flashy lifestyle. We do not need branded clothes to wear or have wardrobes full of designer clothes. Simple fare would be far better than straining our system with huge variety of exotic food frequently. Partying every other night neither wins us lifelong friends nor does it permanently remove our boredom. To commute one does not need top end vehicles – I am not advocating public transport (esp. in India) for those who can afford private transportation. However, no point in having huge fuel guzzling vehicles to move around.
If we were to reduce our needs to the bare minimum, we would start being less demanding on the precious and limited resources of the earth. We would start showing consideration for our fellow beings (human and others too) who may not be as well endowed as us. By reducing our demand, we would check inflation and help in making things more affordable for the poor.
High thinking is what will help us in our evolution path. Human beings are superior because we can think far better than other beings. We should make use of this faculty to probe further into the real purpose of our existence and what we need to do to reach our goals. High thinking also refers to rising above petty and mundane issues. As ones spiritual growth increases, one tends to think about higher things and does not get trapped and lost in the usual worldly matters.
Just look all round; Look at the ocean, look at the sky; How can you manage not to be simple and not to be humble? – Osho
“Most people try to know more to become more clever every day, where as I attempt to become more simple and uncomplicated everyday.” Zen expression
Take a fish out of the water, and give him the best cigar. Give him designer clothes and a million dollars. The fish will not be happy. A fish will only be satisfied when placed in its natural environment, the water. Why do we work so hard all our lives for various material things? We want to secure our happiness. But everything we own and see around us is temporary – even the Sun is not eternal, what to speak of our bodies. Anything temporary cannot secure happiness. There will be losses. The Vedas teach that if the central element of our existence is missing, we cannot be satisfied, no matter what external arrangements are made. Just as a fish needs water, we need our original spiritual consciousness.
The actual identity of a living being, the atma, is distinct from the machine of the body. But when the atma identifies with the material body, he tries to enjoy life. But as the song goes, “I can’t get no satisfaction”. This is an age-old truth; a spiritual being requires spiritual things, experiences and feelings to become satisfied. And those can be acquired simply by a change in consciousness, by developing higher consciousness (Krishna consciousness). Then everything will fall in place.
Then you don’t need to work so hard for so many things. You can live a simple, peaceful life, ideally producing your own food and having access to all other basic needs in your local community. But simple living can start today, by skipping the movie and instead going through your stuff and recycling unnecessary clothes, toys and furniture. Simple living can mean sitting down and reading nourishing books instead of going shopping.
Be creative, live simple and you will have time to think, and fulfill the purpose the Vedas give to human life: to inquire into the meaning of life, and re-awaken the dormant spiritual consciousness.