“To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say – is it necessary? – when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity. Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. But I am starting with the outside. I am looking at the outside of a shell, the outside of my life – the shell. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final answer, I know is always inside. But the outside can give a clue, can help one to find the inside answer. One is free, like the hermit crab, to change one’s shell.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1955 Gift From The Sea
“Voluntary Simplicity involves both inner and outer condition. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose. Of course, as different people have different purposes in life, what is relevant to the purpose of one person might not be relevant to the purpose of another. The degree of simplification is a matter for each individual to settle for himself.”
~ Richard Gregg, student of Gandhi, wrote this in 1935 about a life of voluntary simplicity
To live more voluntarily is to live more deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully – in short, it is to live more consciously. We cannot be deliberate when we are distracted from life. We cannot be intentional when we ar not paying attention. We cannot be purposeful when we are not being present. Therefore, to act in a voluntary manner is to be aware of ourselves as we move through life. This requires that we not only pay attention to the actions we take in the outer world, but also that we pay attention to ourselves acting – our inner world. To the extent that we do not notice both inner and outer aspects of our passage through life, then our capacity for voluntary, deliberate, and purposeful action is commensurately diminished.
To live more simply is to unburden ourselves – to live more lightly, cleanly, aerodynamically. It is to establish a more direct, unpretentious, and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: the things that we consume, the work that we do, our relationships with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos, and more. Simplicity of living means meeting life face-to-face. It means confronting life clearly, without unnecessary distractions. It means being direct and honest in relationships of all kinds. It means taking like as it is – straight and unadulterated.
When we combine these two ideas for integrating the inner and outer aspects of our lives, we can describe voluntary simplicity as a manner of living that is outwardly more simple and inwardly more rich, a way of being in which our most authentic and alive self is brought into direct and conscious contact with living. This way of life is not a static condition to be achieved, but an ever-changing balance that must be continuously and consciously made real. Simplicity in this sense is not simple. To maintain a skillful balance between the inner and outer aspects of our lives is an enormously challenging and continuously changing process. The objective is not dogmatically to live with less, but is a more demanding intention of living with balance in order to find a life of greater purpose, fulfillment and satifsfaction.
~ Duane Elgin author Voluntary Simplicity