Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Art of Simplicity

A priest of the Seoul diocese, in a pastoral bulletin, mentions two books that argue forcefully that the current understanding of many that money makes for happiness is all wrong. Simplicity is the key to happiness, according to The Art of Simplicity by Dominique Loreau and How Much  Is Enough? by Robert Skidelsky and his son.

The books give us much more than a theoretical understanding of simplicity. Dominique Loreau, who lived the simple life, reflected on its meaning and it was her personal experience which gives strength and ongoing value to her words.  The words: "Blessed are the poor," used by our Lord,  seem to have a special meaning in today's world for some of our contemporaries.

Dominique Loreau, born in France, is an essayist who graduated from the Sorbonne in English Studies and has taught in England, the United States, Japan and in other parts of the world. She learned that the simpler she lived the more abundance she had. The memos she kept during those years became part of her book, which has sold over a million copies.

When we try to satisfy our greed, we lose the meaning of life.The priest gives us the table of contents, with  comments.

Articles: When we have more than what we need we are carrying a burden. Having  too much we become attached and do not advance.Isn't life a preparation to move us ahead?

House: Is not a place we store our unmovable objects, but a place to be refreshed.To be inspired and healed. A place where we return for  the essentials.

Time:  Is something we can truly make our own. We need not fear the future but only that we may lose the present.

Body: To eat little and keep our bodies agile is wisdom in action. To take care of the health of the body is equivalent to the value of a work of art.

Our consumer society is bidding us to have more, but the more we have the more twisted our life becomes; it is the paradox we have to face. The reason we are not happy is that we have too much. Let us, he says, put in order our possessions, our bodies and spirit. A simple life is able enjoy everything, being content to know the joy of the ordinary and the insignificant.

The book, How much is enough? confronts us with the fact that we are much better off materially than in the past but asks, Why is it that we are not happier? The book is a counter argument to our craving for more.

According to Keynes the demonic properties of greed and competition have to be restricted. The followers of neo-liberablism, however, have considered these the keys for a vibrant  economy.  For a good life, he concludes, we have to reduce the stress of work and to search for ways in which  incomes will  provide for a decent living for all.

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