In our present culture, we have come to believe that “more, more, more” is better.  The LUST for affluence is accepted and seen to be good, add to this the pace of everyday which leaves us feeling fractured, lost and fragmented and you have a recipe for unhappiness.   This breathless rushing to “the next thing” leaves us breathless, and uptight and frequently overwhelms us.  We have thought that there is no way to get off the wheel, however, the universe has been tuned in, and the wheel has been taken away.  The rat is left but not the race.

The simplicity imposed by Covid could liberate us from these frustrations of both having or not having, and allow us to see material things for what they are – GOODS to enhance life, not to oppress your life.  Simplicity does not mean “poverty”.  Whilst we stay in our homes, we must remember that we actually live in a time of unprecedented poverty and starvation on a scale never before seen in history.  About 500 people die PER HOUR from starvation, and millions more live on the edge of extinction, homeless, malnourished, desperate.

How can we respond when our own responsibilities seem to grow overnight?  We race through days overburdened with meetings, deadlines and obligations.  Worrying and trying to align ourselves with the strictures imposed on us by the challenges of Covid.  This is an especially hard problem for people who are trying to do right.  In simplicity we can enter the deep silences of the heart for which we were created.

If you came to yoga and meditation in the hopes of finding “four easy steps to simplicity” I am afraid I will disappoint you.  Yogic simplicity lives in harmony with the complexity of life.  Thomas a Kempis said of compunction of heart “It is better to practice that to know how to define it”.  Simplicity is a Grace and a discipline. We perhaps have an idea of what simplicity looks like, and we have been trying to fit ourselves to that.  What we DO does not give us simplicity but it does get us into the condition where we are ready to receive it.  It is like playing the piano, or driving a car – it is difficult until it becomes easy.  One day after considerable practice, patience and effort,  we get into the car and we just drive… the car has become part of us, and we have become a part of the car in that way it is not just about externals.  We have changed.

To achieve simplicity, we affirm both the goodness and the limitation of material things.  Material things are good, but it is a limited good, and misery arises when we try to make their acquisition the meaning of our life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer before he died at the hands of the Nazis said “to be simple is to fix one’s eye solely on the simple truth of God at a time when all concepts are being confused, distorted and turned upside down”.  

We live in “interesting” times.  To live well, read the Yamas.  They are the guideposts to simplicity.