Lachlan Brown on Simplicity

Lachlan Brown recently wrote about the Buddhist habits of simplicity that really make for a beautiful life! This is what Lachlan said, paraphrased, along with my own commentary.

Habit 1 – Outer Decluttering

¨Prins Siddhartha abandoned everything when he realized the frustrating nature of materialism, and thus became the Enlightened One. 2300 years later, Buddhist monks do the same. They keep material possessions to a minimum and only hold what they need to live their life. Usually this will all fit in a small backpack. They completely declutter their life.¨

Habit 2 – Inner Decluttering: Taking Care of Others

¨In many Buddhist circles, monks learn to do things not for themselves, but for the whole world. When they meditate, it’s for the sake of everyone. They attempt to attain enlightenment to reach their full potential and help those in need. When you can develop this kind of selfless attitude, you focus less on your personal problems. You get less emotional about small things and your mind becomes calm. This is what’s called inner decluttering: making room for others and dumping selfish habits.¨

Habit 3 – Meditating

¨One of the main reasons you become a monk is to have more time to meditate. Most monks wake up early and meditate for 1 to 3 hours and do the same at night. This kind of practice changes the brain. The benefits of meditation have been widely documented.¨

Habit 4 – Following the Wise

¨In western society, we have an unhealthy relationship with old age. But for Buddhist monks, they see elder people as having wisdom. They seek elder spiritual guides that can help them on their path. If you look around, there are always insightful people to learn from. Older people have more experience which means they can offer countless life lessons.¨

 

Habit 5 – Listening Mindfully and Without Judgment

¨Our brains naturally judges others as part of establishing the pecking order and evolution. But according to Buddhists, the point of communication is to help others and ourselves suffer less. The main goal of mindful communication is to take in everything that someone is saying without evaluating it.¨

Habit 6 – Change is the Law of the Universe

¨According to Buddhist master Sazuki, a crucial principle we all need to learn is to accept change: ‘Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.’ Everything changes, it’s the fundamental law of the universe.

However, Sazuki says we can overcome this by recognizing that the contents of our minds are in perpetual flux. Everything about consciousness comes and goes. Realizing this in the heat of the moment can diffuse fear, anxiety, anger, grasping, despair. For example, it’s hard to stay angry when you see anger for what it is. This is why Zen teach that the moment is all that exists. Sazuki says: ‘Whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity. We should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else.’¨

Habit 7 – Living the Moment

¨As humans it can be tough to simply embrace the present moment. We tend to think about past events or worry about what the future holds. Our mind can naturally drift. Mindfulness encourages us to refocus. Practising mindfulness enables us to get better at redirecting our thoughts back to what we’re actually engaged in. Without judging ourselves for getting lost in our thoughts, we simply acknowledge that we lost our attention and direct our focus to our senses or any task we’re engaged in.¨