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In Praise of Simplicity

By Matthieu Ricard on October 23, 2018

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"Simplify, simplify, simplify¬Ö". These refreshing words written by Henry Thoreau remind us that much of our suffering comes from adding unnecessary and disturbing complications in our lives. We seem to be continually weaving elaborate conceptual webs around even straightforward events. We distort reality and shroud it with complications by superimposing fabricated mental constructs. This distortion invariably leads to mental states and behaviors that undermine our inner peace and that of others.

How many human enterprises and noble causes have failed due to such unnecessary complications! We need to simplify our thoughts, simplify our words, and simplify our actions. We need to avoid falling into circular mental rumination, pointless chatter, and vain activities that waste our precious time and engender all kinds of dysfunctional situations.

Having a simple mind is not the same as being simple-minded. Simplicity of mind is reflected in lucidity, inner strength, buoyancy, and a healthy contentment that withstands the tribulations of life with a light heart. Simplicity reveals the nature of the mind behind the veil of restless thoughts. It reduces the exacerbated feeling of self-importance and opens our heart to genuine altruism.