Nº 156.– Simple Life
Spiritual men live with simplicity, without complication or affectation. Simplicity in language, social relations, behavior at home and work, and even personal habits are a sign of spiritual development neither belonging to any religion nor practicing any belief. As you read biographies of saints or persons of good spiritual evolution, you see at any moment and circumstance a spontaneous behavior, and when a person is more advanced, his nature is more attractive. See closely the daily life of Mahatma Gandhi, Therese of Calcutta, Mao, Ho Chi Min and many of those who left indelible trails in peoples. Children, peasants and workers who live far from cultural city centers are a sincere expression of life.
Why do men find so hard to live with simplicity? Because Christian civilization became very complicated, difficult and contradictory in its last moments. You cannot go out for your daily tasks or work, even to buy at the supermarket or take a walk and stretch your legs if you do not carry compulsorily your identity cards. Many times a person who went out to buy the newspaper ended in a police station for not taking documents. Others, as they come back home by car, have to squint under bridges or in doorways of the neighborhood to make sure no thieves are lurking. Usually, children have problems when they are going to school and must not talk to strangers. It is hazardous to leave the bank with no company after collecting your pension. Even family life has lost simplicity by cumbersome habits and customs –to eat in a restaurant downtown, young persons going to dancing nightclubs, social status, fashion, and television and media intrusion in the intimacy of our home.
Professional tasks are still more cumbersome. A simple and easy task is to educate children of primary school, but it became cumbersome, full of unnecessary steps, programs changing every year, days with no classes because schoolmistresses are to perform training courses, and so on. Something that is as direct as the relation of the schoolmistress with his pupils to learn reading and writing became a national trouble everywhere and children know less and less. Most of them are shunned at secondary school for deficient formation.
If a simple activity has so many troubles, how can be the human relations on high society levels, government, business, politics, security and religions? In our country, the President has a security corps of about 600 armed men for her protection day and night. The President of the United States travels to other nations on several B 47 with armored cars, helicopters and hundreds of guards. The Secretary of the General Work Confederation used four Falcon cars to travel at full speed through Buenos Aires streets, and certain Secretary could not avoid being killed. Who is happier, a shepherdess taking care of llamas at beautiful green plateaus of the Argentine Northwest, Bolivia, or Peru, or the President Cristina Fernandez? Life has become survival, and those who live in big cities are frantically in an economic battle, which is the center of their concerns, not to be defeated but to beat their opponents in any way.
Every Sunday, in the morning, I talk by phone to Julio, of Via Lucis, Brazil, and he ever relates how the Ordained Women live with great simplicity performing the Community Regulation, tilling the orchard, making butter, cheeses and dehydrated vegetable and attending building maintenance. They follow the advice of Master Santiago –silence, patience and routine– and are happy. They do not go shopping, live with no newspapers, television or visitors. It is the regular life of a group of women who live far from social complications and, working in harmony, they sing during the leisure time and pray in the morning and by night. How many women are in the middle of their lives being aged, nervous, with failed marriages, bored and enclosed in their own debasement!
Life is simple. See in Nature how plants and animals are growing, and you will learn many things. Maeterlink wrote a fascinating book, “The Intelligence of Flowers”, which with clear and poetical examples give us teachings of behavior that we can apply to our daily activities. There are a lot of documentaries of scholars –Cousteau, Attenborough and others– who through researches in jungles and deserts teach us patterns to live with simplicity.
The society is complicated and, as civilization advances toward racial goals with tougher requirements day by day, all men are enclosed into patterns of survival and compete with their fellow men, as we see daily in all aspects, business, sports, oil wars, vital space in Tokyo, Mexico and New York, and slums and favelas. The twenty-first century advanced societies lead to frustration and permanent confrontation
How can a soul be happy living in spirit of simplicity? This has been well explained on the Full Moon Message of 1958, Teaching 12, Course “The Messages”, and here we wish to include practical ideas for their comprehension. A man understands that is living with simplicity when he does simple things every day and finds happiness making them: things easily at hand according to personal circumstances, without contrived mind mechanisms, and here we put examples that all know and few practice.
Gardening: generally in cities of Argentina you see it in those spacious houses of owners with goodwill, who by themselves are cultivating plants of every kind, flower beds and pots, and interiors, also sharing with friends and neighbors the beauty of flowers. In Mendoza, I have known a neighbor of my Mom who, besides flowers on the front garden, in the back yard had an orchard of basil, tomatoes, zucchini, corn cobs and every vegetable he needed, and also eggs into six cages. He used to fertilize his orchard with leaves that, during the autumn fell on the street from the trees.
Gardening practiced personally is the best system of physical exercises for diabetics and is recommended by doctors, for it is better than daily long walks of twenty minutes. Not only all bodily muscles are activated but what is more important, mind and sensitiveness, reconciling the sick person with his own health.
I have male friends who, for several circumstances, do not work outside and devote their time to home chores, without a servant, preparing his food, washing, ironing clothes and cleaning the house, and taking care of every detail of an exemplary family, with good humor, and inviting relatives and acquaintances. They feel proud of being in charge not wasting time in a bar, watching TV or walking through downtown. These men, and of course women too, live in spirit of simplicity. They need not spiritual meetings; peace is at home and in themselves. They are an example of life for those who know them. They had made of silence, patience and routine, a way of living that is the best.
Others have taken such way of living to their jobs, when and if this is possible. Simplicity is not possible for a bank manager, schoolmistress, car seller, policeman, journalist, windshield cleaner in the street, thief, or politician; their cage is the system of complications and immorality of the modern society and they are unable to live in their own way when and if they wished it. They belong to those suffering beings that are pushing Mankind downhill. But there are many who, regardless of the establishment, earn a living by repairing cars, or as carpenters, in a kindergarten at home, taking care of a vineyard with his family in the countryside, as a mason building houses. Or as a painter. An economic circumstance does not decide by itself the life style but it is helpful for those who are inclined to peace and togetherness.
There are many spiritual beings in religions, sects and orders, followers of leaders like Krishnamurti, Sai Baba, Dalai Lama and others, but they do not get any result by excessive complications, doctrines and exercises, and confused ideas. The Course above-cited says as follows: “Leave the Teachings for the Teaching that flows eternally”. The so-called spiritual beings are wrong because they want more and more, and diverse paths and experiences. Renunciation teaches this: one has to leave material and spiritual possessions and, by stripping themselves of everything, to reach the mystical death that is the gate of wisdom.
Beyond success or failure, a simple soul lives and does not expect results or prizes, like a child, a rose or a Saint –as God has ordained. If the individual deserves a low step on the human scale but is poor of spirit, and agrees and persists every day on the humble task of living honestly, he is achieving the simplicity.
José González Muñoz