Many years ago, Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Be as simple as you can be. You will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.” The book, Simple Life, by K. Jayakumar—acclaimed Malayalam poet, writer and former civil servant—offers simplicity as a path that is accessible in a complex world. It gives compelling reasons why a simple, uncomplicated life is filled with joy.
The author explains it all logically in the context of the sorcery of consumerism, the pitfalls of capitalism, the buying and brand mania based on the modern dictum ‘I shop therefore I am’, the cluttering of space (both physical and mental), the obsession with new technology, the leaning towards more and bigger and better, and then that sinking into the abyss of absolute materialism. He advises the reader to avoid these wrong signposts so that the whole plan of leading a simple life becomes logical and practical.
A de-cluttered home is the first signpost on the journey towards a simple life. Clutter in our homes is essentially the antithesis of beauty. As Jayakumar writes, “While the anxiety about the future prods us towards senseless accumulation, the emotional attachment to the past is also a major cause of clutter.”
He talks about simplicity at various levels—physical, emotional and mental—and differentiates between satisfaction and contentment. One is fleeting, the other is long lasting and comes from within. “The mind where thoughts and feelings of yesterday and tomorrow elbow for space can hardly accommodate the thoughts of today. The past and the future sandwich the present, which alone is real,” he writes.
Many of the author’s insights are spiritual and his words have a poetic quality. I shared the book with three people from different generations: my father, who is 90 years old; my husband, who is a doctor; and my daughter, who is embarking on a teaching career. Interestingly, there was one strong common observation: the book is an eye-opener and a pressing need of the times.
Simple Life is universal in scope and holistic in execution. It encapsulates a beautiful vision of a simple life and kindly leads us towards it.
By K. Jayakumar
Published by Shubhi Publications
Price Rs295; pages 86