Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Bill Gerlach.
Sure, there are a lot of great minimalist teachers out there. Many who have tapped into the awesome power of living and thriving with less. Those who have shed unnecessary things, material or otherwise, and embraced the beautiful simplicity that remains. Blogs and books abound; lessons and lists; ways and means.
But the ultimate minimalist teacher is right outside our door. While voiceless, she speaks to the masses; has no books, but has authored volumes in the Story of Life; has no motive save for sustaining all creation in perpetual harmony.
Nature is this teacher.
If we were to pause for a moment, to stop the hustle and bustle of our lives just long enough to see, we would observe all those amazing ways that Nature lives the ultimate minimalist existence:
- Nature does not want. The natural world lives in balance. There is no greed for more. Nature uses only what it needs to thrive in the most basic yet amazing way.
- Nature does not waste. The natural world is closed-loop. It does not create things that serve no purpose. What lives does not die, rather it is transformed into another form to serve another purpose. Nature does not dwell in the realm of planned obsolescence.
- Nature does not wallow. Go outside. Is anything ho-hum? There is energy—a vibrancy—that permeates every little nook and cranny. Nature is all about living with zeal; about living to the fullest potential; about living with a humble and determined purpose.
- Nature embraces life. From the dawn of time, Nature has single-tasked quite nicely. Creating, embracing, sustaining. Laser focus. No distractions from petty, frivolous pursuits. And because of that, Life teems on a frequency unlike no other. So should we.
- Nature embraces diversity. Scientists estimate that there could be up to 100 million different species of life on the planet, of which only 2 million have been identified. This richness of life and the harmony that sustains it should give us pause. Homogeny is boring and limiting. Diversity begets a natural balance. The same is true in our lives.
- Nature embraces the moment. There is no dwelling in the past or fretting about the future. Nature is about the here and now. This is an important lesson to learn. Allowing mindfulness to bring the moment into full focus can lead to all sorts of amazing things.
Nature is a pathway for seeing our life in a new way; a catalyst for changing our perspective about how we approach our day-to-day. When we step outside and immerse ourselves in this natural world we open ourselves to the enlightenment that is all around, just waiting to be reflected in each one of us.
Minimalism is powerful in ways big and small, opening our eyes to a new way of living and giving us the ability to reconnect with the beautiful essence of our existence. Such insight allows us to see our place in the broader world differently; to recognize that which allows every part of our lives to be – the Earth. Those pursuing a minimalist lifestyle are naturally inclined to see the connections between how we approach each day and the long-term vitality of the planet that makes it all possible.
A Buddhist proverb says that when the student is ready the teacher appears. Given all that ails our planet, the collective Student Body of Humanity is realizing that school is now in session. The biggest test of our lives is before us and it is simply pass/fail. Better get outside and start studying.