Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Minimalism Schminimalism

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



I worked for a menial’s hire
Only to learn, dismayed
That any wage I asked of Life
Life would have willingly paid.
--Anonymous

“Unto those that have, more shall be given,
and they shall have abundance;
but from those who have not,
even what they do have shall be taken away.”
--Matthew 25:29

Weight, Unseen

Do you pay much attention to the words you use?

For example, the word for the things a person has: possessions.

Yes, we possess what we have. But in this world in which we so often attach to, define ourselves by, and worry unnecessarily about losing what we have, couldn’t it be said that these same things possess us?

Sure… Though whether we actually notice our attachments and fears or not is another story.

While this is largely due to the fact that people tend to do anything and everything to avoid facing their inner discomforts, another significant reason we hardly notice is due to the constancy of our inner discomforts’ weight.

Sometimes I hear the question, “Oh, gosh! That person weighs 437 pounds. How can they not be so uncomfortable that they do something to lose weight?”

The answer I’ve come up with is this (to the exclusion of psycho-emotional problems):

The human body is not meant to carry huge amounts of fat on it. Therefore, the heavier a person becomes, the unhealthier and more uncomfortable they will be.

But, it may only be, say, the most recently added 20 pounds that bothers a person consciously. If the average person hits 200 pounds (we’ll assume the person doesn’t exercise, so all excess weight is fat), they’ll naturally feel some discomfort because they’ve got excess fat. But they keep pounding down the soda, and their weight goes up to 220 pounds. Having added more weight, they’ve become acclimated to the 200-pound discomfort. When they hit 240 pounds, their body and senses reacclimate to 220 pounds. And this goes on, all the way up to 437 pounds.

The weight never disappears, nor is it even constant—it increases. Yet, the conscious mind works such that it sort of numbs out what is “old news.”

The connection between people and their belongings is typically quite similar:

People are very physically oriented, and as such, they almost cannot help but be attached to what they have. In unawareness, however, they don’t really grasp what their having of things implies. Hence, it could effectively be said that that which people believe they possess actually possesses them.

If the obese person were to quickly drop 50, 100, or 200 pounds, the relief they’d feel would be amazing. So it is with the release of one’s belongings, for it’s not just the release of physical objects, but also of the psycho-emotional and other energetic content we’ve attached to them and carried for ages.

A Crisis of Self

There’s a pleasant lightness in letting go, but like anything that feels good, it’s easy to get attached.

For while we might let go with good intentions and pleasant feelings, there are other potential issues that we could use the act of minimizing to hide from.

I felt strongly drawn to get rid of many of my belongings soon after having a spiritual awakening in 2009.

At first glance, shifting from a spiritually indifferent and materialistic mindset to one of spirituality and minimalism would seem like a good thing. And in some ways it was. It was a spiritual awakening, after all, and to start anew, one has to first let go of the old.

The problem, though, is that having a very weak sense of self, I unwittingly attached to an I’m-a-spiritual-person-and-being-spiritual-means-being-a-minimalist identity... an identity readily fueled by my unconscious and thus unresolved programming of poverty, scarcity, and unworthiness.

Minimalism Schmininalism

Over a decade has now passed since I first woke up, and I see the predicament I was in. My sense of self has since become much stronger, and I’ve made significant strides in the direction of having.

What I’ve come to realize is this:

If minimalism truly works for someone—great! If it doesn’t—great! But nowadays, to me, minimalism is largely irrelevant and often even foolish.

On one hand, I wish I could do with less just because, well, why not? Surely, there are a lot of benefits to living a very simple life.

On the other hand, having left behind so much of the I’m-a-spiritual-person-who’s-a-minimalist-with-poverty-scarcity-and-unworthiness-programming, I’m coming to see that I want stuff.

I want as much as I want and need (without stocking up on a bunch of shit that’s just going to sit around, that doesn’t actually appeal to me, or that other people imagine I need).

Having stuff is my truth. Being surrounded by prosperity and abundance is my truth—it’s what is true for me whether or not it’s true for anyone else.

Plentitude is the nature of the universe. Acknowledging and aligning with this plentitude and using it to make our lives more exciting and enjoyable—without unhealthy attachment—is one of the greatest things we can do.

If done for the wrong reasons, minimalism is no better than hoarding—they’re opposing dualistic poles.

Speaking of minimalism done for the wrong reasons…

Is the Trash Inside or Outside?

Many people buy into the trashy idea of: Minimalism for sake of the planet.

This one sounds nice on paper, but you know what? It’s usually a heap of horse manure.

By all means, respect this beautiful, amazing Earth! But being a minimalist for the sake of this planet means just about nothing if individual and/or collective consciousness isn’t rising.

If I’m living my life as a-spiritual-person-who’s-a-minimalist-with-poverty-scarcity-and-unworthiness-programming, the simple fact of the matter is, I ain’t helping anyone.

My level of consciousness is down in the dumps of guilt, shame, inferiority, and so on. No matter what I could do physically, it’s my energetic vibration that speaks the loudest, and, well, I’m only really resonant with things like war, waste, and sewage.

Like the brilliant and wise Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael, says, the people and politicians could come up with all sorts of programs, but they’re inevitably bound for failure because the people and politicians themselves don’t change—old minds invariably create old programs. What is needed are new minds to create new programs.

Recycling Is Kind of a Joke

So, did you hear about that time the EPA created rules, regulations, and programs to help protect the planet in such a way that served to reduce toxicity in one area without sneakily creating it somewhere else for the sake of securing huge profits in the present and future?

Yeah... I didn't hear about it either.

Have you ever really thought about what we call “recycling”?

Are you aware that massive amounts of what is “recycled” still gets thrown in a landfill? Are you aware that we could basically erase the entire bazillion-dollar oil-dependent plastics industry with the use of hemp and its derivatives? Are you aware that the recycling industry still uses enormous amounts of energy to operate and that the use of “recycled” items is dependent on market value and need (for example, fewer bottles will be recycled if there are fewer manufacturers wanting to make plastic park benches).

Recycle, recycle, recycle! Protect the creatures of the land and sea by recycling those plastic bottles into fleece jackets! So instead of there being larger bottles floating around in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or squashed in a greenhouse gas-producing landfill somewhere, now there are 492 trillion, billion, God-only-knows-how-many-exponential-gazillion micro plastic fibers and particulates floating around and getting into the food, water, air, and bodies of every creature on this Earth.

Then there’s the thing with recycling plastic bags. I’ll do that to some extent; I’ll collect the clean grocery bags (that I don’t use as garbage bags) and then take them back to the store and throw them in the bin.

But do you know what I don’t do? When I buy new 100% organic cotton clothing and everything comes individually packaged in recyclable plastic, the bags go right into the garbage. I don’t waste my life away cutting out all the damn stickers and pieces of tape in order correctly recycle the plastic. (And what happens with all those smaller pieces of plastic that I’d be creating, anyway?)

I care more about humanity, plants and animals, having a clean planet, and so on than I ever did before. But the simple fact is, we’ve been living in a royally fucked up world, and it’s not my job to hold all of its weight on my shoulders. Action based on guilt and false responsibility solves nothing.

We can do all sorts of things “out there,” but what we all really need to change is what’s inside. If consciousness doesn’t change, regardless of what programs we put in place, the end result can only be equal to or worse than where we’d been just prior.

Throwing plastic in the garbage is unsettling to me, to be sure. But I can promise you that if that’s the temporary price of living a life of prosperity, abundance, and worthiness while raising my consciousness and helping others to raise theirs, then it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Letting Go of You So That I Can Be Me

As I said parenthetically before, I want what I want and need—but without stocking up on a bunch of shit that’s just going to sit around, that doesn’t appeal to me, or that other people imagine I need.

For someone who wants to share in Life’s abundance without going overboard, this is where aspects of minimalism shine.

I have a box that’s more for awards and things of that nature. When I was going through it some years ago, I had to deal with the unresolved internal pressure of how I felt people would react if they’d known I’d thrown certain things away.

I’d felt that throwing them away would be for the best, that they’d otherwise just stay untouched in the same box for the rest of my life, but what would people think if they knew? Oh, but this is from So-and-So. But that’s official and authoritative. But blah-blah-blah.

That kind of stuff is so unsettling to me: when people want me to have things, when they want me to either keep things or accept things from them, for the sake of their own “happiness.” Like my happiness, my thoughts and my feelings, doesn’t matter.

As time marches on I become more and more self-confident and self-expressive, and my need to connect with what’s personally resonant only increases. I find it harder to deal with the material attachment issues that other people have and sometimes try (usually inadvertently) to dump on me.

Gifting

As for receiving gifts we don’t want, need, or like, this is kind of a rough area. A little bit can be said about it, but I think it’s more of something we each have to figure out how to resolve on our own—it’s more action than theory.

The simple fact is, unless we were living in a world where we either didn’t give gifts or gifting was all done intuitively, people will continue to be given gifts that they don’t want, need, or like.

Balancing the Outer and Inner

A while back I wrote a piece called, “Why I Stopped Playing the Lottery.” I don’t take back anything I said, but I have been playing scratch-off lottery tickets around once per month. I never buy the tickets myself, but people I know give them out, and they insist I take them.

I’d bought them myself and scratched them for years, but a point came where an evolving me just didn’t want to support such a corrupt program anymore. I thus manned up and started telling people that I didn’t want the tickets and why; I turned tickets down as they were being handed to me.

Much to people’s displeasure, they said okay… at least for a little while. And then they insisted. And they insisted. And the insistence was persistent enough that I stopped bothering to say no.

This circumstance became one of those things that when set on the balancing scale of “What Burns More Energy Unnecessarily?” the weight of “Arguing about Something Important to Me but Fairly Minor” was definitely heavier.

How many times can one tell something to another, something the other may even acknowledge the truth in, but they refuse to fully accept the person’s choices or to fully make that new truth their own because it’s inconvenient?

It’s not as though I am being hurt by playing the lottery here and there. It’s a corrupt government-run program that feeds on people with poverty and scarcity mentalities and deceptively allocates profits—I don’t want to support that crap. At the same time, I’m not the one buying the tickets, and I win sometimes, so for now I just accept it as-is.

Setting Boundaries and Gratitude

If they were actual physical objects I was being given, I can’t really say how I would handle such a situation since any item could be so different from any other.

In many ways I’m a picky and particular person, and I have a terrible fake face, so receiving gifts can sometimes be tough for me.

Do I really need, want, or like what someone has given me? Am I going to post the item on eBay in the first spare moment I have? Maybe the answers are no, no, no, and yes.

Also, there’s always the need to have and enforce boundaries when necessary. If, say, someone were repeatedly buying me things because “I just couldn’t help it, it was so cool,” or because “I saw this and thought, ‘It’s so you,’ so I bought it,” or because “I’m unhappy but thought I could get happy if I gave you this thing that I thought would make you smile which would make me smile and then I’d be happy,” well, it would be high time to put my foot down.

However, for as far as its value reaches, it’s important to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. For those that don’t go to excess and excluding gifts that repulse us and we simply cannot accept, I think a smile and thank-you if only for the sake of gratitude-of-giving is reasonable. That is to say, focus is placed on the act rather than the object.

There’s Plenty for All

What I’m finding for myself more and more, and what should be so obvious to everyone but doesn’t seem to be to most people, is that it’s vitally important that we each live a life that’s true to our personal, inner needs.

The world tells us of the supposed awesomeness of excess, while religion and spirituality (and the EPA) tout the supposed necessity of minimalism. The problem is, both are man-made psychological mechanisms designed to keep people enslaved in duality and misery; or at least this is the result even if some of the pushers are unaware of the true nature of their causes.

For me, before I woke up I was living in the wretchedness of psychological poverty, scarcity, and unworthiness with a physical experience that aligned accordingly.

There were a few things that had slipped through the cracks. For example, I had no qualms about spending ~$27,000 on a new 2007 Subaru Legacy. However, I had still purchased cheap clothing, at restaurants I’d buy the $11 meal but never the $14 one, and so on.

During the few years after awakening, I still lived in the wretchedness of psychological poverty, scarcity, and unworthiness, but now I was the “spiritual” person who “liked minimalism.”

Following some transition years which was sort of a ho-hum period of struggle, release, and reorientation, my outlook has become so drastically different concerning what I want, what I need, what I deserve, and so on.

There’s an ages-old idea that it’s “unspiritual” to want stuff, like getting what we want when it’s neither necessity nor spiritually oriented is enough to “lower one’s vibration” or to cause St. Peter to assign us a seat toward the back of heaven’s assembly hall.

The fake me of not so long ago used to buy into all that cow flop.

Again, by all means, each of us needs to be true to ourselves—if minimalism or even asceticism is truly someone’s thing, then that’s where they’ll be happiest. Have at it!

But people need to understand that there’s no One Right Way to live—even on the spiritual path.

How much and what people—even very awakened, very spiritual people—can have without it necessarily hindering them is enormously diverse. The very openness to buying, receiving, and having can be a means of spiritual development.

Telling ourselves that “I can’t have this because my want is desire and desire is suffering” is, in my estimation, a load of dump for most people. Heck, that very belief causes more suffering than anything!

Even worse is when people deliberately choose hardship over ease as a sneaky egoic way of saying, “Do you see me, God? Do you see my holiness? (I look forward to my reward in heaven.)

What makes me happy through the satiation of my deeper needs? What makes you happy through the satiation of your deeper needs? Is it self-induced poverty, scarcity, and unworthiness? Is it minimalism under the belief that God’s going to bestow enlightenment upon us sooner or give us a front row seat in heaven?

I Am Me

This is just me, but I’ll tell you what.

Although I use the word for functional purposes, I don’t even think of things (myself included) as “spiritual” anymore. The spiritual is not all that different from the physical, mental, or emotional—it’s a different level, a different order. So often we talk about “the spiritual” like it’s some far-off, enchanted thing; yet, it’s always just right here, right now—we’ve simply ignored it for a really long time.

Also, while having the “I’m spiritual” identity crisis, I blindly followed all the talk of “enlightenment”; I got hooked on the idea. Nowadays, I kind of don’t even care. I look forward to the day I self-realize (or whatever the heck it is exactly), but it’s kind of a trivial point to me. It was such an energy burn, and it left me wanting and unfulfilled—i.e.: in a state of suffering due to desire.

So, here’s what I’m going to do:

Ahm jus gonna be me.

A living creature who’s trying to integrate the various layers of himself while enjoying his life as much as he can in the process.

And I’m going to desire things. And I’m going to accept my desire. I may challenge it at times, and rightfully so—I don’t intend to be a spiritual slob. But I will also joyfully and gratefully follow my desires to create a life for myself of prosperity and abundance.

I pray that you find what’s true for you as I’ve found what’s true for me.