Thirtieth January. It was on this day in 1948 that the simple life of Mahatma Gandhi was snuffed by an act of violence, as he walked to an outdoor prayer meeting in New Delhi. His final words as he breathed his last were, “hey ram” — a remembrance of the God Rama. Gandhi, the man who was instantly recognizable by his simplicity – a pair of glasses, a walking stick and a white cloth made of homespun cotton draped around his body, as he travelled all across India inspiring a nation to rise up in non-violence to shake off the chains of British rule.
It was Gandhi’s simplicity that made him relatable to India’s ordinary people who felt that they too could join him in his fight for freedom and justice. His mission was simple too — complete independence for India. Inspired by the Bhagavad Gita and the likes of Paine and Thoreau, he inspired many lovers of non-violence and freedom in his wake, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
We all have had experiences with simplicity, or at least the occasional and intermittent desire for it in our lives. We often marvel and reminisce about the joy and lightness that we felt in those stages of our lives when ‘life was so simple’. One reason that our heart may even ache for a rerun to simplicity, to create it again in our lives, is that it is our natural state.
The ease of flow that we experience in simplicity is what attracts us to create it again. Simplicity, and the allowance that it creates in our lives – the idea of living a simple life of observation instead of a life of a desire to control people’s behavior and the tendency to jump to conclusions and judgement. Simplicity engenders a life of peace, tranquility, lightness and creativity rather than a life living the death spiral of the ‘outrage of the hour’ brought to us by our hyper engagement with (social) media.
How do we begin to create simplicity (again)? One area we can examine is our daily habits and practices. What habits can we simplify, or even eliminate, without much effort? What (spiritual) practices are portable and sustainable? In what ways are we introducing more complex thoughts into our daily life? Some questions I often ask at the end of the day. For how long did I sit still today? What did I consume and how did it affect me? Did I engage with nature today? What was my greatest moment of Joy today?
As we ask these simple questions and watch the answers emerge, our awareness will create more simplicity in our lives. The more that simplicity grows within, the more we will be attracted to it because of its rewards and its ability to return us to our natural, holistic state. Simplicity creates sustainability and warmth for the heart, like the rising of the Sun. A sunrise is simple, and yet, is there any single act more effective and essential for the health of the planet?
Join us for our weekly Twitter chat, Sunday Jan 31 at 9amET in #SpiritChat – we will ask some simple questions and create some simplicity. Namaste – @AjmaniK