“Take greed. Do you know what greed is? It is eating more food than you need, wanting to outshine others at games, wanting to have more property, a bigger car than someone else. Then you say that you must not be greedy, so you practice non-greed – which is really silly, because greed can never cease by trying to become non-greed. But if you begin to understand all the implications of greed, if you give your mind and heart to finding the truth of it, then you are free from greed as well as from its opposite. Then you are a really intelligent human being, because you are tackling what is and not imitating what should be.
So if you are dull, don’t try to be intelligent or clever, but understand what it is that is making you dull. Imitation, fear, copying somebody, following an example or an ideal — all this makes the mind dull. When you stop following, when you have no fear, when you are capable of thinking clearly for yourself — are you not then the brightest of human beings? But if you are dull and try to be clever you will join the ranks of those who are pretty dull in their cleverness.”
According to the doctrine of enantiodromia, introduced by C.G. Jung and inspired by Heraclitus, the superabundance of one thing creates its opposite. If the pendulum swings to the furthest right, it will inevitably swing to the left. A documentary Minimalism (http://minimalismfilm.com/watch/), which I have recently seen on Netflix, asks all the important questions while providing a true diagnosis of rampant consumerism. It is true that we live “on the hunt” for bigger, better and more stuff. It is a valid point that advertising and fashion trends create and feed the need for the new. It is hard to argue that consumerism feeds and feeds off the lowest human instincts – greed, competitiveness, egocentrism, insecurity, and so on. Time is definitely ripe for downsizing our excessive lifestyles.
The Minimalists are two men who used to be enormously successful in the corporate America standard manner while now they are equally successful as mentors to humanity. As can be read on their website, they “help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.” It is notable that all the newly-converted minimalists interviewed in the documentary used to be highly successful in the conventional understanding of the word; as if minimalism was an exclusive club where the poor have no access. It is ironic that the Netflix documentary’s final scene features the two Minimalists addressing a crowd in LA (of all places), who are visibly moved by their words. It seems as if for the two men too much minimalism has created space for maximum success.
Minimalism appeals to me as an idea. I sympathize with the thought that by focusing on what we can achieve and acquire in the outside world, we turn away from the pressing needs of our Selves. However, the quote by Krishnamurti, which I have included as my motto, invites to look deeper at the issue. The real challenge is to grow beyond greed and its opposite, which in this case is minimalism. In this pure awareness lies the true freedom of the soul. Otherwise, we will be just swinging with the pendulum of the current trends – be it minimalism or consumerism.