Almost fifty years ago, someone asked Sri Chinmoy the following question: “You stated that one should live a simple life. How do you define a simple life, and how does one recognise it? How does one live it?”
This was long before minimalism became fashionable and also long before computers and digital technology began to take over our lives. And yet, Sri Chinmoy’s answer is as relevant now as it was then. He says:
“There are many things we do here on earth that are unnecessary. There are many things we own that are superfluous. You live in a house, and you have a room. In your room, if you want to, you can have a radio, a stereo, a television and many other things which you don’t really need. I am speaking from the spiritual point of view. If you want to lead a spiritual life, if you want to live the life of aspiration, if you want to realise God, then to make the fastest progress, it will be better for you to think more of God than of music and television, and all kinds of other things. You have to know what you want. If you want to be a spiritual person, then naturally you have to spend most of your time in spiritual pursuits. All the paraphernalia of the world will only distract you and waste your time. If you want God, you have to lead a simple life. There are only twenty-four hours in the day, and when they are gone, they do not come back again. If you waste an hour, then it is lost to you forever. You will not be able to retrieve it. You have to decide what you will use each fleeting moment for: for worldly pleasure, or for God. If you feel that your first and foremost necessity is God, then if you simplify your life, you will not be distracted or tempted if you keep all the objects of temptation around you, then you are consciously and deliberately delaying your spiritual progress.”
Sri Chinmoy’s comment has made a deep impact on my life.
While it is true that technological progress is mostly positive, it has added so many layers of complexity to our lives. I remember someone once told me you could tell how complicated your life is by how many keys are on your key-ring. He had dozens. I got down to three, once.
So, why is having a simple life important? Well, there will be less things tying you down. Less burdens heaped on your shoulders and more freedom to try and improve, and liberate yourself from your negativities. But currently for many of us this isn’t the case. Our lives are complex, our minds busy and stress never ends.
Most of us can identify with this image of a cluttered life that Sri Chinmoy describes:
“The so-called peace we feel in our day-to-day lives is five minutes of peace after ten hours of anxiety, worry and frustration. But that is no peace at all. We are at the mercy of the monkeys around us — jealousy, fear, doubt, worries, anxiety and despair. The monkeys take rest for a few minutes, and then we say that we are enjoying peace. But no, it is only that monkeys are tired of biting us. The next moment all the negative monkey-forces will attack us again.”
So, where do we go from here?
How to Live a Simple Life?
Only you can discover the way to simplify your life in an outer sense. It might mean less debt or minimising your possessions or a digital detox or a job that is not so stressful. But, ultimately, all these positive steps to a simpler life have only one goal: inner peace.
Our true nature longs for peace. Our minds tend to wander here, there and everywhere. So, a simple life means getting back to our hearts, our real essence. Learning to shut off the ‘busyness’ of the mind and to have some balance between the inner and the outer life, between our work life and our spiritual life.
This short video below, called Ocean Meditation, may help you begin that process. Plunge into the sea of tranquillity, meditate with nature’s beauty and spiritual imagery. Nature is the best partner for entering into the depth of your inner being and helps you to easily go into a meditative consciousness. This video brings you the simple scenery of an ocean with all its sounds, vibrations and feelings. The soundtrack is a combination of Aum Chants by Sri Chinmoy and flute music by Premik Russell Tubbs.