Simplicity should be the hallmark of all Christmas seasons.
The world of today is tottering on the verge of financial and economic chaos with massive unemployment in the West. Against this bleak global environment and background, simplicity has become an essential life skill cum virtue for the ordinary person. Once, a person has recast his negative perception into a positive one, then he/ she will be able to keep calm in the eyes of the financial storm that is threatening to tear up the global economic structures.
How do we develop simplicity as our core value in life?
“Life is basically pretty simple…
We can, however, make it very complicated. There’s no straight line that can’t be made crooked, not easy task that can’t be made hard, no clear statement that can’t be obscured… Even Victor Serebriakoff, (President of Mensa) said,
`Unfortunately, intelligence is no guarantee against stupidity.’ But there’s a direct path out of all these needless entanglements, a simple way back to simplicity…
We don’t have to get lost in a dizzying array of choices. The 13th century philosopher-monk, William of Ockham, once remarked, `Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.’ Ockham’s Razor- cuts through all needlessly complex explanations of a given set of data and, till proven otherwise, assumes the simplest explanation to be true. In the same way, we can cut through all needlessly complex responses to a given life experience and, till proven otherwise, assume the simplest response to be the best.”
(an extract from my scrap-book, Food for Thought- author unknown)
Simplicity was one of the main pillars of Christian living for many centuries until the last five decades and it was the distinguishing characteristic of the life of Jesus. Unfortunately, this great quality has been significantly eroded in modern times when most people are infected by the toxic virus of consumerism and severely aggravated by greed and envy. As a result of this prevalent spiritual infection, the mass media via the internet, TV & printed media advertisements are designed to encourage us to climb the social ladder and `follow the successful or better-attired Joneses’.
`In a world of appearances, be sure to weigh the underlying substance.’ Stephen C. Paul
What do you think Jesus would say to our present lifestyle of `collect and accumulate’ as much of material things and wealth as possible?
I don’t think Jesus would say anything apart from two simple words- `follow me.’
Yes, if we want to follow Jesus, look at his lifestyle- a perfect model of simplicity.
He was born in a manger, by the roadside. His attires were simple and few.
His food was simple. He walked from place to place preaching and healing sick people.
His most luxurious mode of transport was the donkey that carried him into Jerusalem.
His travel accommodation was given free by his disciples.
Right until the very end, he died by the roadside on the cross.
In reality, simplicity is much more than just appearances that can be measured in terms of material and worldly things. Hugh Prather enlightens us further by sharing his insight:
“Simplicity is a characteristic of mind and cannot be judged by appearances. It is an integration, a stability, a settledness, a straightforwardness, a purity of mind that is often expressed in a simpler lifestyle- a simpler diet, a more orderly routine, a more intelligent use of time, less clutter, less financial chaos, fewer involvements- in other words,
less world, more peace.”
Yes, simplicity would be inevitably followed by more inner peace because one’s life would be made less cluttered by the complications of modern living. When there is less world demands in our lives, then we will find more quality time to focus on our family relationships and on our spiritual needs. Then we will be able to focus on the core elements in our lives. What are the non-negotiable elements of your life?
What are the things you absolutely must have and do so that you can feel that you have lived your life and not wasted it? The well-known author, Harald Kushner, provides an appropriate answer for us to ponder, “What’s non-negotiable – what’s important to us that gives meaning and balance to our lives- is different at different times. So we can expect the particulars to change as we change. But our determination to have them should not waver.”
Living simply is not easy. The goal of simplicity calls us to turn away from the goals of much of our culture. Living simply may call us to draw away from long-held associations with some friends and neighbors. It may mean giving up things and ways of being what we have enjoyed… Living simply also means being more intentional about everything and being vulnerable and open to the wonders of nature.
During this Christmas, Jesus calls us to live a more simple life and putting more love into what we are doing. With a simple life, we have more quality time to make spiritual connection with Jesus to enhance our inner peace and joy.
Yes, simplicity would be one of those valuable gifts that Jesus would very much like us to offer to him during this Christmas day. And in return, Jesus would like to give us his blessings of `less world, more peace.’ In other words, Jesus never allows you to outdo him in generosity- he would give you an `ang pow; (gift packets given on festive occasions) of rare blessings – his unconditional love and real inner peace. In our broken world today, these gifts are as rare as diamonds and they cannot be purchased with any amount of money. With simplicity, we can take good care of our external needs of our life without succumbing to the pressures and demands of the world. And with love and peace, we can cater adequately to our spiritual needs. This is the sure formula for an authentic life. What more can we ask of God?