I recently read an about how minimalism is dead or the minimalist movement or whatever. I thought this was interesting because I learned a bit about minimalism from the author in his earlier writings. But what I never saw coming was his rejection of it. While pondering this I had an “Ah ha!” moment and realized that minimalism is something that can never die because (for some like me) it is a principle. Now don’t get me wrong. If people view minimalism as a trend, then certainly it can die. But principles don’t die. You won’t find people saying that honesty is dead, or integrity, or loyalty. Well, you might find people saying these things if they’ve been lied to, cheated on, or whatever. But for those who believe in the spirit of principles (like minimalism), principles will never die.
This is an interesting point because I used to be very involved in Asian Indian spirituality and after many years of practice, study, and teaching it, I found that most people involved in it had this mentality about it being a trend. Somehow they got on board in the mentality of joining a football team or a sorority. Thus they were (and so was I initially) hasty to don the dress and learn the lingo, basically adopting the externals without the internal infrastructure in place. I feel fortunate to have had a strong pull to the tradition and took up studying the path very intently. Thus while I had the externals, I was also cultivating the knowledge to support my practices. In the end however I found that 95% or more of this group had externals only. Or perhaps some of them did do the work of learning the tradition, but even so seemed to have some kind of malfunction in their development. What I found was that most people had an ‘outside-in’ orientation. They based their lives upon the input, approval, and trends of others. Even the leaders were essentially blind followers. For those (of the ‘outside-in’ orientation) who learned the books well, they searched the books to find the quotations that supported their particular pieces of beliefs while ignoring other passages or texts that contradicted their tunnel vision.
What I’m trying to say here is that there is a difference between being oriented towards the essence versus the periphery or the clothes versus the person inside the clothes. We’re taught and programmed to be oriented towards the shell and not what’s inside, like I wrote about in the prior post (Got Freedom?). So if we don’t shed this wool from our eyes then we’re predisposed to be people of trends and not of principle. ‘Sheeple’ if you will.
What are your principles? Think about it. What are the rock solid core beliefs that you live by? What principles do you want to develop? Write this all down. Take steps to achieve them. Or you may find yourself swaying endlessly according to the weather of the media and your social life. And ultimately how can you ever be content if what you’re basing your life on is constantly changing and contradicting itself?