The Next Step in Minimalism

orchid_sd2_After simplifying one’s environment, the next step may be to simplify one’s mind.

To create open space in one’s house, one must declutter the house — remove all the unnecessary Stuff. Then, suddenly, space appears.

“In the same way, to bring about contentment we need a consciousness that is like creating space. It’s not about having more, accumulating more. Rather it is about letting go of this and that. When we let go of everything we see that the space we want to create is already there.”
—Anam Thubten (2013) No Self, No Problem: Awakening to Our True Nature. Boston: Shambhala, n.p. [Kindle Edition].

Decluttering our environment requires us to give up our attachments to Stuff. Sometimes that’s difficult; we have deep emotional, psychological bonds to some of our Stuff that we need to detach from (the souvenir is not the trip; the heirloom is not the lost loved one) in order to let our clutter go.

Decluttering our mind is similar. It means giving up our attachments to Self: e.g., the stories we tell about the way we were in the past, the way we are now, and the way we will be in the future if only we do this, or refrain from doing that, or can achieve something else. Thubten reminds us, however, that “there is a big difference between giving up everything and giving up the attachment to everything.”  [emphasis added]. Perhaps we can’t entirely forget those stories; I suspect it would be difficult to do that and operate in the normal, everyday world. There’s a tradition of the “mad monk” for a reason! But I imagine we can avoid letting those stories direct us or limit us while acknowledging that we have believed in them in the past, and that others may still believe them about us. Oh, well. Accept it and move along.

Self is a form of Stuff.

Those of us who have been successful at decluttering our Stuff might want to take up the more daunting challenge of decluttering our attachment to Self next.

Image Source: Skydancer (Jo Pagliassotti).

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