Sunday, January 11, 2015

Minimalist living is the middle way

The true value of things is only revealed in their absence. Be it food, health or a friend who passed away. There cannot exist anything positive without its negative. There cannot exist anything negative without its positive.

When was the last time you were grateful for the air you breathe? We can remind ourselves of its necessity, but we can only experience what it means when we feel like suffocating.

A rather funny example is the urge to urinate. One time I happened to be on an overland bus without a toilet. I had drunk a lot of water and it was getting really uncomfortable. I asked the driver to stop, but there was no parking place until our destination and he told me we'd arrive in 15 minutes. Well, I had known that before, but waited to ask until it was already getting ticklish. I was in trouble - I didn't want to insist on stopping at a layby, but it felt as if this was not going to turn out alright. After the most nasty 15 minutes of my life we finally reached our destination and I ran straight to the rest room. Later that day I wrote on gratitudelog: "I am grateful for not being on public transport without a toilet having drunk insane amounts of water."

In Buddhism the middle way describes an approach to life which is neither driven by hedonism nor asceticism. The purpose is neither seeking pleasure nor avoiding it to depreciate its importance. The middle way is a philosophy that accepts the duality of nature (Yin and Yang).

When talking about minimalism I see many people discarding it as extreme. But it's not about refraining the good. It's just about refraining from ever wanting more of it. By doing that you become aware of how lucky you are to be in the place you're in.

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