July 19, 2018

Monk-Like Simplicity

This monastic retreat is at the Monastery of St Antony & St Cuthbert in Shropshire, United Kingdom.

There is no spiritual practice I am aware of that recommends shopping as the way reach to the peaks of human experience.  What is often encouraged is taking a vow of simplicity in the practice of monastic living. 

In a world of predatory consumerism, one may need to develop a monk-like existence to avoid being tempted and trapped by harmful, unsatisfying ways of living. There are many benefits to monk-like simplicity.

Monks aspire to reach what are considered to be the ultimate goals of life. They are aided by the simplicity found after renouncing all unnecessary things. 

Without the usual trappings, there is not much left. Who are we stripped of all our stuff? The diligent monk aims to find out.

A monk cell.

By eliminating distractions and emotional entanglements of the outside world (the world of passions), monks are able to concentrate on what is most important to them.

Single-mindedness allows exclusivity of the goal, unlike in the outside world where our mental environment is pushed and pulled this way and that by competing interests. 

“Our mental environment is a common-property resource like the air or the water. We need to protect ourselves from unwanted incursions into it, much the same way we lobbied for nonsmoking areas ten years ago.” 
- Kalle Lasn

The chances of success in such an environment are increased multi fold. Your goals may not include probing the nature of reality and higher powers. It doesn't matter. What are your most important goals in life? Monk-like simplicity will help you meet them.

Contemplation can happen here, unhindered by distractions.

We don't need to become cloistered in a monastery or hut in the forest to receive the benefits of monk-like simplicity. It can be done by anyone, anywhere. 

Monk-Like Simplicity

1) Let go of unnecessary things.
2) Establish what is "just enough".
3) Meet needs, not wants. 
4) Focus on your ultimate goal.
5) Live in a beautiful place close to nature.
6) Use time freed up to learn about the self, the ego, your purpose, and how your practice can be of service to Earth and all its inhabitants.
7) Eat to live, rather than live to eat.
8) Tend a small garden.
9) Be patient, and persistent in all things.
10) Take advantage of the "visual silence" of simple, uncluttered spaces.


  1. There's something about these modest simplified rooms that draws me in with intrigue. I'm inspired to go shed a few more 'things' just by seeing this.

  2. I love this post, it’s everything I feel connected to. Thanks Greg.


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