Luxurious simplicity

9 Nov

I had a talk on TEDx in Slovenian language and some friends wanted to know what the talk was about, so I am sharing it here with you in English language along with the slides.

The text bellow is not the translation of the actual talk, but it should be reasonably close.

Enjoy!

————-

Luxurious Simplicity
2600 years ago Lao Tzu said: “When people lost sight of the way to live, came codes of love and honesty.”

I would add: not only codes of love and honesty, but actually codes of everything. We’ve enwrapped ourselves in hundreds of norms, codes and laws–followed by hundreds of things and cultural habits. We never doubt them, because they are accepted by EVERYBODY!

Along with this we’re accepting the ideals–various visions of what would be the best way to live. We’re enthusiastic about the images of edenly islands and yachts, anchored in impeccably clean bays. But can we really enter Eden with roaring monsters of steel and plastic?

I feel Eden can only receive us naked and barefooted, by its own norms, codes and laws. Edenly luxury is simple; it is not found in possesing, it is rather found in experiencing.

In the world of artificial codes when you step away from the light, you  find yourself in darkness, in the experiental void. You immediately start to look for tools to dissapate the darkness, because your spirit is impoverished, unable to orient itself without using your eyes.


In the world of luxurious simplicity when you step away from the light, you find yourself in night, which enriches the spirit and invigorates the other senses. Take a walk barefoot in the forest at night and you’ll understand what I am talking about.


We accept the codes mostly because of comfort. But there is no real comfort in passivity of muscles and the mind. Comfort comes from balanced activity of complementary muscles and joints. An armchair makes you lazy; a mat forces you to constantly change the position and maintain an active comfort.

But the culture doesn’t let you do that. It pressed you in various moulds–from hairstyle to shoes. When you disfigure your foundation (your feet), you disfigure the entire posture, both physically and spiritually. I dare say, no totalitarian system would stand a chance if there were no shoes and chairs to soften the people’s spirit.

Without shoes you are connected with the environment. Each step is a new experience. You build up a sense of balance you couldn’t have imagined earlier on. You train the inner system of heating and cooling. Barefooters never have cold feet! But I know–oh, how difficult it is to step out of the multitude of cultural norms! After all, to be barefoot is so dirty, isn’t it?

Well, it isn’t if you wash your feet regularly.

Nowadays the hygiene is yet another set of rituals, which vary from culture to culture, but in the developped world they have a common denominator: a toothbrush. Even when you go to nature for a few days, the toothbrush shouldn’t be missing in the backpack. How boring! There are dozens of tools everywhere around, but we’re blind. For this lecture not to be just theory, I prepared for you a surprise; you can find in under your seat.

What you’re just holding in your hand is a so called chewing stick. It is not difficult to make it. Chew on the top 2-3 milimeters and by rubbing them with your incisor teeth strongly but gently shred the larger fibers to form a fine brush. Then rub your teeth with the brush you just made. Isn’t it enjoyable?

Let’s check out what you learned about the luxurious simplicity so far:

  • you’ve taken off your shoes, straigthened your posture and connected with the environment
  • you sat on a mat and strenghtened your spine in a dynamic way
  • you activated the night senses and stopped the dependency exclusively on the sense of sight
  • the hygiene (especially dental) has moved from the bathroom into everyday life

As self-proclaimed fecologist I have to now touch upon the luxury of the toilet habits.

Toilet paper is to me the most boring thing on earth. It is dry, bleak and always the same. In nature there is a whole bunch of items that are a lot more efficient, ecological, cheap (actually free), fragrant and diffent each time. The most efficient are lumps of this and that, as illustrated on the photos bellow:

In the end I will tear down the porcelain throne on which your lazyness is seated. Toilet seats are the embodiment of all the artificial codes listed so far: it isolates you from the environment, it destroys your posture, it dubms your senses, it turns hygiene into a ritual.

The only truly natural posture for both defecating and urinating is the squatting position. Now, how will you figure a way to do it (or not) for yourself is a big question, and I don’t have a simple answer to it.

What I know is that sitting on the toilet is one of the main reasons for constipation or stoppage. It is scientifically proven that normal functioning of the bowels is stopped, and according to my intuition the physical and mental functions are also stopped.

Good news is that more and more people squat on the toilet! 🙂 Nowadays cultural codes are being subjected to the judgment of reason and common sense. In the present society this is allowed. People are taking the responsibility for their health and happiness in their own hands. They are breaking out of the confines.

In April 2010, 270,000 people came out to clean Slovenia. In 2012 we’ll try to bring together 300 million people to clean the entire planet.

Who comes to clean? Those who have been touched by the simple, natural Eden. A great news is there is more and more of such people. They”re not waiting for permission to do something, if they know it’s the right thing to do. And they’re doing it voluntarily.

Recently someone said to me: “Wow, you’re doing so much voluntary work! That’s great!”

I replied: “And what are you doing? Is your work unvoluntary!? Are you a slave?” Can you imagine a society in which all work is truly voluntary?

But how? The culture doesn’t allow it. We have to adjust to hundreds of moulds and take care of hundreds of unnecessary necessities of life.

Imagine you had only six more months to live. Six months! In your imagination walk through your home and tick off all the things you feel you wouldn’t need, or things that are even jamming your life. Think of everything you’d change. Tick off all the people you might not want to have around in the last six months of your life.

With this image in your mind let me ask you the last question: “How do you know you’re really living?”

The answer is: “If you had only six months  left, but you wouldn’t change anything.”

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4 Responses to “Luxurious simplicity”

  1. Edith Bartko November 10, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    Dear Nara,
    I fully agree with all your words and pictures. I am so happy to know you are there where you have to be and do – as always – the best what you can. Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for showing how simple and easy is everything seen through “simplicity”! God bless you.

    With appreciation, respect and love
    Edith

  2. Steven November 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Well, Nara I like this. Simple and direct. It really provides and opportunity to begin thinking about many other things we tend to overlook with the bustle of daily living in the modern world.

    cheers

  3. dana November 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    delicious:)!

    thank you for sharing, love!

  4. Jaanus Viese November 29, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Oh Nara! Thank you, you inspired me. I like very much compost toilets, but now I got the idea for alternative toilet paper. I will try straw and specially dried hay. Only thing, that barefoot in Estonia, is little bit too much during the winter. We had today -23C in South Estonia. Barefoot here is possible during the summer. But anyway we can connect us to the nature with many ways. or excample I slept outside until the november, it was OK. Best regards, Jaanus

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