Becoming a Minimalist
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
If you are a longtime reader of mine you may find that I repeat the same bundle of ideas over and over again. The reason is because everything I am trying to convey depend on them. They are the foundation to increasing self-awareness and living a conscious life.
I find that when I tell most people about them, they unfortunately believe they already understand them upon first hearing them, or will mistakenly take them to be too simplistic or not significant. This would be a grave error on their part.
For the past several years “minimalism” has been all the rave. Hoards of people, especially in the developed countries found that material wealth doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. While Material wealth does make life much more comfortable, it doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness. Having a psychologically fulfilling and balanced life seems to evade most people in spite of our tremendous material comforts.
Millions of people achieved most of their material wants, but then realized that something was still missing. Logically the next step would be to believe that by going to the other extreme of getting rid of all their stuff would solve their problems. I have a strong suspicion that most are unaware that psychologically they are just a doing a sleight of hand, simply replacing one object for another. The underlying causes to their dissatisfaction is now under the guise of minimalism. Don’t get me wrong, there are many upsides to living a simpler life, I just would like to share what I think is the real issue.
Like most new things, it provides temporary relief…..but eventually people may see that minimalism can’t provide them with what they truly long for. I personally know of several people who after becoming minimalists and traveling around the world for several years have now gotten to that point.
We fail to see all our psychological shortcomings that keep us trapped in a circle. We are simply blind to ourselves and the motivations behind our actions.
I have been a minimalist for many years and I never really acknowledged it. I didn’t need to. Then I started seeing it pop up all over the internet. At first It was a little odd to me, that so many people were seeking advice on how to live simpler lives, on how to get rid of their stuff, etc. Minimalism to me actually gives much insight into the bigger issue, which is that much of the world is psychologically asleep, is living an unconscious life.
How to Really Live a Minimalist Lifestyle
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates
The real secret to being a real minimalist is awareness. When you infuse your life with awareness, when meditation is your way of life…..guess what? You “are” a “minimalist,” if you so choose to use that label, only this is not some ideal that you are striving towards. Going after an ideal always creates many problems.
When you lead a life of awareness you tend to only focus on your essential needs, you are not driven by your egoistic desires and wants that were conditioned by society. Things that don’t serve you simply fall off. You can have and use whatever material things you need, but your possessions won’t possess you. You don’t need to choose between being a spiritualist or materialist, you can have the best of both worlds.
The crux of the situation is that Inwardly we are not alert enough, we lack the ability to observe and stand objectively apart from our thought process, from our emotions, so we fail to directly perceive the “image” making process our thought creates that ultimately leads to a psychological attachment of some sort.
Modern day advertisers exploit this to the fullest. They create an ideal image for whatever they are trying to sell and if it strikes an emotional chord based off of our previous memories, a desire operating below our conscious awareness will start to grow within us. They create the demand then supply it. But when you have enough awareness and a certain mindful command over your attention you can be more aware of all the incoming sense impressions/stimuli and remain unidentified to them. You simply just make a mental note of them happening. Any reactions that they may provoke are also just simply observed and by not engaging them further they exit our system quickly and without disturbing our inner peace.
How I stumbled onto awareness:
When I first started living abroad a completely new environment allowed me to progress on my self-development journey at a faster rate. This was a phase in which I was questioning every aspect of life and exploring many spiritual practices. I had the freedom and time to fully devote to my interests.
As my physiology gradually changed I experienced many new sensations and countless mystical experiences during this time. So I began to turn to all the sacred texts and spiritual masters to help me understand the transformation and cognitive shift I was going through.
After some time I began to make sense of all these new psychological phenomena that were happening to me. Namely, it was that awareness itself began to blossom within me. I was becoming more and more awake. Just as when you wake up in the morning, you know that you were dreaming, I could see with that same clarity that what I used to believe to be waking consciousness was more akin to self-hypnosis. We are all hypnotized by the contents of our mind, and thus we spend much of our day imagining things to be real that are not. And just like a dream, unless you start to question yourself, you will continue to sleepwalk through life, and it will appear as the only reality.
This is why it is so challenging in trying to help other people “wake up,” because anything you can say or do are just pointers to a state of being that is beyond words. If I appear in your dream, and tell you that you are dreaming, will you believe me? Most people don’t like their sleep to be disturbed. This is why every great teacher throughout history is eventually crucified, they show us what is possible, but it hurts us to see our own faults reflected back to us.
I encourage you to put all your time and energy into becoming more self-aware, because what you put in is what you get out. Many people try meditation, but very quickly give up after not “getting it” or achieving the “results” they were looking for. The awareness that I am talking about is something most people haven’t experienced in a meaningful way…so how could you know what that state of being is like? It takes a long time, you need to have patience and discipline and slowly you will begin to recognize a different quality of consciousness take root within your being.
You may not be able to verbalize it to those around you, but it will become obvious to you. The things that used to bother you no longer do, the present moment becomes a more intense and vividly alive palpable experience. Being one with the moment you have a sense of aliveness that is unimaginable.
For a short primer on increasing your self-awareness check out my post here: How To Increase Your Awareness and Expand Your Consciousness
Like I mentioned before, really work with these ideas, and put them to daily use. If you are sincere soon enough you will see the immense significance and the impact it can have on your life.
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