Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich
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First published in 1981, VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY was quickly recognized as a powerful and visionary work in the emerging dialogue over sustainable living. Now-more than twenty years later and with many of the planet′s environmental stresses more urgent than ever-Duane Elgin has once again revised and updated his revolutionary book.
VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY is not a book about living in poverty; it is a book about living with balance. Elgin illuminates the changes that an increasing number of Americans are making in their everyday lives-adjustments in day-to-day living that are an active, positive response to the complex dilemmas of our time. By embracing the tenets of voluntary simplicity-frugal consumption, ecological awareness, and personal growth-people can change their lives and, in the process, save our planet.
Zen, and many more traditions. Simplicity fosters a more conscious and direct encounter with the world. From a more intimate encounter with life there naturally arise the powerful experiences at the heart of all the world’s great spiritual traditions. THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS The involvement with inner growth may suggest an inward turning away from worldly relationships. To the contrary, it is the very deepening of insight through the inner quest that reveals the entire world as an
while you drive; to experience yourself talking while you talk? Despite the utter simplicity of being consciously watchful of our lives, this is a demanding activity. At first it is a struggle to just occasionally remember ourselves moving through the daily routine. A brief moment of self-remembering is followed by an extended period where we are lost in the flow of thought and the demands of the exterior world. But with practice we find that we can more easily remember ourselves—while walking
culture, race, or religion. Descriptions of ineffable unity appear throughout recorded history in the writings of every major spiritual tradition in the world: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and all the others.16 Each tradition records that if we gently though persistently look into our own experience, we will ultimately discover that who “we” are is not different or separate from that which we call God, Cosmic Consciousness, Unbounded Wholeness, the Tao, Nirvana,
initial conditions prevail but the human community engages in a process of intense communication and reconciliation to build a working consensus around a sustainable pathway into the future. The human family comes together and pulls together during this time of transition, conserving the momentum of historical evolution and building the foundations for a promising future. Here are two scenarios that suggest how we could evolve into either of these futures. Scenario I—Evolutionary Crash
there is a feeling of rebirth in personal competence and craftsmanship. The foregoing only begins to suggest the practical, down-to-earth adaptations that would characterize a revitalizing civilization. In countless small ways, nearly every aspect of life will be adapted to the reality of the global ecology. Voluntary simplicity does not mean a return to a more primitive past but rather a movement ahead to a more sophisticated, compassionate, and collaborative future. INNER EXPRESSIONS OF