When I got to Kathmandu, Nepal, I bought a bright yellow book called “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” written by Chogyam Trungpa.
I thought the book was okay, but the author’s style didn’t resonate with me.
There was one idea he suggested in the book, however, which was great. It proved very true in my own life, so I’ll share it here.
He told that truth seekers tend to go from one teacher to the next and they accumulate a vast amount of spiritual teachings. So they know a lot, but they’re still unhappy and so search for further truth.
The author suggested to these infinite seekers to intuitively select one teaching and focus on it completely. Chew it, as the author suggests, to get the most of it and understand it fully.
This advice can be applied not only to spiritual matters but to our way of life. Especially in the West people tend to accumulate many nice things yet they don’t appreciate any of them and feel unhappy not knowing why.
How I started living with less
When I left UK for India, I took only a small bag with me. The rest of the stuff I either sold or gave away. As soon as most of my stuff was gone, I felt so happy and free.
The most important things that I still had took on a different and deeper meaning. I fully appreciated each and every item that I took with me to India.
I got rid of so much stuff, but I never missed any of it. I felt content and happy with the few items I still possessed.
This way of life with a very limited number of possessions simplified my life and made me appreciate not only the things I had, but other simple things in life I overlooked before. Simple things like chirping of birds or the sound of leaves moving with the wind took on a more magical meaning.
I gained more clarity. It seems that every single thing you buy takes up some space of your mind, leaving it less clear. So as soon as I got rid of most of my stuff I saw things in a clearer way and made sounder decisions.
All this happened from a simple decision to live with fewer things.
My re-attachment to things and letting them go
Throughout the two years of my life in India I again started to accumulate stuff, little by little. Before coming to Nepal I had to make a decision whether to keep all the stuff by paying for a few months of rent of my studio apartment, or again leave it all and go. I decided that the latter option was healthier.
Some stuff I had was expensive. I noticed that my mind found it harder to let go of the stuff I invested more money in. However it didn’t take long to severe the bonds with items and leave. Again, like the time I left UK for India, I felt freer and happier.
It seems that when you decide to sever the bonds with whatever items you accumulated and with whatever place you lived in, you become fully open to new opportunities. You end up experiencing many wonderful things you never experienced before, simply because of your firm decision to remove these subtle influences from your life.
How we end up accumulating lots of stuff
The comparison the author of the “Cutting Through Material Spiritualism” gave to hoarding stuff and becoming unhappy was this. First, the room has little furniture and one beautiful painting on the wall. The person living there fully appreciates the beautiful stuff he has, especially the painting.
Then a thought arises in him that since the painting is so beautiful, if he buys more, the room will look even more beautiful. So he buys more paintings but suddenly he no longer sees the beauty of any of the paintings, nor does he appreciate them.
His home becomes crowded with beautiful things that he doesn’t pay attention to.
Final advice on having less
To follow the spiritual advice of having less, you should have only the essential things that feel good to you. Appreciate them fully and refrain from getting more of the same stuff.
This should gradually simplify your life and make you happy.
Here’s a reminder you can save (click on the image to view a bigger picture):
If you experienced the joy of having less, share your story in the comments.