Minimalism is becoming a widespread lifestyle. More people have come to understand that we don't need as much as we once thought we did, and have recognized that simplicity instills a greater sense of ease and security in our hearts, and homes. In some way, there has been an adaptation to a more serene mindset regarding our consumption, which is in turn helping our Earth. There is a lifestyle that accepts an extreme form of minimalism that’s worth mentioning. Hermits, not the beloved aquatic animal, but Buddhist Monks and Nuns, live in extreme minimalism. There are said to be anywhere from 3000 to over 5000 Buddhist Hermits across mountain ranges in Mainland China today.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, an ordained Buddhist Nun who is known for practicing the Hermit lifestyle, living 12 years in a cave in the Himalayan Mountains said “We have to cultivate contentment with what we have. We really don’t need much. When you know this, the mind settles down. Cultivate generosity. Delight in giving. Learn to live lightly. In this way, we can begin to transform what is negative into what is positive. This is how we start to grow up.” Aside from being inspirational, these words can help us to form a deeper relationship with how we work within our personal realms of desire. When we become acquainted with our desires we can identify the depth of our need for fulfillment.
In starting to tame and release our desires, we can understand our conditioning to consumption. Our need to have more isn’t a primal instinct, but a form of modern conditioning imposed by our culture. In the efforts of choosing to plant our own gardens, compost, recycle, donate, and practice zero waste, we are choosing to step outside of the cultural conditioning bracket we were placed in by previous generations. In this way, in the act of practicing these habits we can spend more time understanding how to work with simplicity. We can understand cycles and rituals that bring us closer to Earth, and ourselves.
During this time, we are all to some extent recognizing our desires, as well as facing the new norm of having to purchase minimally. At stores we’re being asked to not buy in bulk, and to purchase with consideration for others. We are learning to live lightly and to choose only what we truly need. As Jetsunma said, We are learning to cultivate contentment with what we have.