Minimalism and Zen


I saw a funeral procession pass by not long ago, and an interesting thought occurred to me: The hearse was not towing a U-Haul. Just like every one who had died before them, this person had passed away and left behind all of the things that they had accumulated throughout a lifetime.  As I travel this new path of peace and love, one thing becomes increasingly apparent to me: Stuff will never make me happy. Relationships and health, experiences and presence…these are the things that I believe make a life worth living. And upon examination of my life and possessions, I realize how much I have been effected by the consumer culture that I was raised in. I believe that the practice of minimalism will supplement my spiritual journey beautifully, and I am excited to begin.

Have any of you begun to live a minimalist lifestyle? How has it effected you?

May you find peace in the bloom of each new moment.

23 thoughts on “Minimalism and Zen

  1. I often think about what I will leave behind for others to deal with. I was the executor of my mom’s estate. It opened my eyes to how much we all hold on to in this life without even realizing it. Therefore, I pray that I am allowed to stay on this earth long enough to to : make a positive difference in the world, become more like a reflection of Christ and Buddha, and get my lifestyle down to the basics so others do not have to deal with all my stuff 🙂

  2. Great awareness….I lived as a minimalist for sometime; no tv, radio or lights. Basically no electricity. It was a very quiet, very still time in my life. But then I noticed I was doing so to BE a minimalist (ahhhh….that tricky ego. It can turn anythin into an ego trip, especially spirituality) and I remembered Buddha’s teaching of the Middle way. …to let go of extremes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, just be mindful along the way not to turn it into an ego trip. I don’t know if you’ve come across any of his teaching’s but Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has a great book called Spiritual Materialism. He speaks to this quite thoroughly. Sounds right up your alley. Blessings on your path…

  3. 💜💜💜 The physical act of this awareness is extremely beneficial to our souls. The energy that is released ( that of material things that no longer serve our new path) just opens magnificent doors of new energy, new awareness, and the freedom to create new stories of experiences.
    I went through the de cluttering and minimizing of THINGS 2 years ago and am so grateful to report that it was a JOYFUL experience! I shared with the local mission, a women’s shelter, a clothing drive, and the local Goodwill store. I donated to the animal shelter the money I got for selling boxes of clothing and shoes at our local used clothing stores. I love living on LESS THINGS and living WITH MORE LOVE AND BLISSFUL JOY!! Namaste’

  4. Not really…… But never craved for material thing I never had,and today possessing them gets the urge in me to share with the ones for whom it’s a need.Hopefully some day!!! I’m happy for u though:)

  5. I’ve been living a minimalistic lifestyle for a few years as of late. I haven’t watched tv in months. What I did, and still am doing, is this: every couple of months or so I take a good, long look at what I have, and if I’m just keeping things without any purpose I give them away, I also give what I no longer need. You can help many people this way. It’s a liberating experience to realize how much “junk” you got rid of.

    • I appreciate your input. I can’t imagine how much I would grow as a person if I were to cut out television. Maybe that’ll be the first thing to go 🙂

  6. I did a huge clean out of “stuff” a few years ago. It was partially because I’ve moved many times and noticed I was dragging around boxes I never even opened. I realized I had so much that I really did not need. I realized I would be happier with less. I donated many items to people who would benefit, and I lightened my load (physically and emotionally).

    Living simply is a joy. Clutter and extra stuff causes stress. I asked my family/friends to keep this in mind at holidays/birthdays, etc. I’d much rather spend time with them – or spend money on experiences and consumable things – than more things to pile up in my closet. I wondered at first whether I’d miss some things (like photographs and more personal items). I can honestly say I have not. As Soulspeak2013 said, these things no longer served my path, and letting them go was wonderful. I felt like a weight had been lifted, and I was free! ohcgd108 mentioned the Middle Way. I very much agree with this philosophy – no extremes either way – but mindful living is happiness. Keeping in mind the impact of what we purchase/consume on the environment and other people is so important. We need much less than we sometimes think. And there’s so much we can do to be more sustainable. I’m learning all the time, and it’s fun!

  7. It has been a journey for us as well.
    For us, food was the issue : We would be very thrifty everywhere else, but dinners out, fine wine, sushi cravings, we had them all and frequently. We used buy groceries and then spend the week eating something else cause we never felt like what we had bought. But as with everything, food cravings are a need. Taste only exists in the first 2 inches of our throat and then the stomach doesn’t make a case of it. We now buy what we need, we eat what we have and are thankful for the blessed meals we are able to have. We’ve stopped wasting, we’ve stopped drinking (for it was only creating more needs and taking us away from our true nature) and since, we’ve been happier, healthier and simply happy to share a meal. Because the meal with loved ones is what makes our meals, not the food in our plates.

  8. I now pursue the life of enough. I came to this through my art work. Compositions that were too simple did not satisfy in the long run. The first time I saw one of Matisse’s cut outs in an exhibit, I was amazed at the complexity of it. That is my image of enough.

  9. I have been trying to live a more minimalist life. Like you, I grew up with the idea of the Almighty Consumer and while I have disavowed consumerism many years ago, living a minimalist life has proven more difficult. I am not attached to my possessions, but my husband is. We will be moving into a much smaller place later this year though and disposing of possessions will become a necessity. Like everything else, it’s a process.


  10. Amen! When my guy and I broke up this fall, I had the sudden realization that I wanted to get rid of most of my stuff–including my books, which is crazy for me. So I’ve got about five boxes of books in one friend’s basement and some art that’s really important to me in another friend’s attic, and I’ve discovered that almost everything I need can fit into a backpacking backpack. That said, I don’t have a home of my own at the moment…. But I’m aiming for a small one when the time comes. It’s really liberating, this stufflessness! Thanks for the good topic!

  11. I was just reading posts from 2 other bloggers about living a minimalist life and our consumer culture. They and I agree with you…less iS more. How many of us work jobs we hate to pay for stuff we don’t need? Millions. They seem to be miserable but they don’t see how they contribute to their own misery. Hopefully they will figure it out. For me, time is the most important… I will never get it back…there is no return receipt I can turn in to get more. I saw another quote that said “Collect moments. Not stuff.” Namaste! Inge

  12. Last year I gave away most of my possessions n(accumulated over 42 yrs), I put 7 small boxes of things into storage, packed my backpack & headed to a beach on an island. I don’t miss any of my stuff, I don’t need anymore stuff – I have my head for amusement, and it’s full of stuff !

  13. Good story and questions. Three years in a small cabin on a NW island was a classroom and sanctuary. I carry the lessons of simplicity as much as I can into life back in the crowds, and into my teaching on Muir, Burroughs, Thoreau and others. Thanks for the site.

  14. I love your post! As I have grown spiritually, I have let go of the desire for stuff and replaced it with a desire to be of service. Namaste.

  15. I live a pretty minimalist life I suppose. I live in Korea surrounded by mountains, in a cold garret. I eat only kimchi soup and rice every day and live without credible heating. I abstain from most harmful things and hike in the mountains frequently. In this fashion of living, one is unhindered by the stress of want, I need nothing, and needing nothing lends itself to your focus on study and improvement. Even praise is unnecessary, for I carry around Lao Tzu’s line: “When no credit is taken / accomplishment endures.”
    I am also fortunate to know a Korean sage who lives in the mountains, who I go and talk and work with sometimes. Around him one can sniff the enlightened state, for being enlightened he emits an energy, a sensation that put into words sounds awkward and asinine. One must be around people like that, to realize their normality and yet the feeling they imbue you with. One thing I learned from him is that laughter and an absence of seriousness about life is essential, for as he always says: “Anyway, we are all going to die.”
    I cannot allow it to encroach on creative endeavours (my advocating of centralizing philosophies), for I cannot and do not deem it essential to try and rephrase or reshuffle the great ideas of the masterful sages of history; leave their lines be.

  16. I’ve been trying to reduce my possessions as much as possible over the past four years. It’s really liberating. But in order to liberate ourselves fully from our material objects, we need to work on our mind – our opinions, beliefs and attitudes linked to possessions, money etc. Every object we own and buy carries with it an emotional and a reason. Once we understand these, we will be able to understand our material life.

  17. Ha, I often have to comment on my spartian existence as I often don’t know what people are talking about. I once wanted to be an ascetic but life happened and I have a family. Im glad. I have electricity and watch tv sometimes. of course I have my pc and internet but after loosing everything a few times it really dosnt matter as much. For me it wasn’t so much the attempt to minimize but rather the pursuit of spiritual things where the desire of joy, peace, compation, understanding, etc just took the place of temperal desires. For me life is more full and complete with the liturgical relationship to spiritual pursuit, family, community and all the good everlasting things in this life that we do carry with us to the next life and leave behind for the ones we love and interacted with……. this is a great site by the way, thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s