The importance of minimalism

Nearly 40 percent of food in America goes to waste.

160 billion dollars of food is wasted in the U.S. every year. Over the world, malnutrition and lack of food affects 161 million children annually.

America spends 100 billion dollars annually on shoes, watches and jewelry.

Food wasted in developed countries every year: 222 million tons; Annual net food production in sub-Saharan Africa: 230 million tons.

Nearly half the world’s toys are in America. American children comprise only 3 percent of the global population of the world, but they consume 40 percent of the world’s toys.

If everyone lived like the people in the west, we would need 5 planets to keep going. According to NASA, if deforestation continues the way it is, the planet’s rain forests will be no more by the end of the century. There will be no water by 2040, there will be no more fish in the ocean……and that’s only the tip of the icebergs which are melting and crashing due to global warming.

The Marie Kondo show on Netflix is a reflection of this over-consumerism. Marie Kondo is a Japanese woman who gets paid a lot of money by Americans who have over-shopped and now need help to clear the mountains of junk including clothes, shoes, furniture, and junk that have taken over the house.

And yet, even though the American dream is polluted, everyone wants to move to America.

And, therefore, predictably, the new trend in the other direction is minimalism. Netflix also has a show about people who, although they can afford it, live with the minimum necessary goods. In a society where one can buy almost anything and everything on their credit card and remain in debt forever, refraining from shopping requires a great amount of self-control.

If only the west had learnt yoga long back…..Yoga, which is more than asanas and pranayamas, teaches us that our senses are like a magnet and are drawn to things, people etc. to which they then get attached. Vairagya or detachment is the antidote to this. Yoga encourages the practitioner to be aware of one’s mind, one’s thinking, and to keep a firm hand on the steering wheel of the mind. `Detachment’ is commonly misunderstood as `giving up everything’, but `detachment’ really means the ability to be content when one has something or doesn’t.

In the present day and age, people have learnt to respect those who have more. `He has more cars, she has more shoes, he has more apartments….’  And so it goes. But there was a time when people were respected and admired for having less. One such man, known by Churchill as the half-naked fakir, from India usually wore only a dhoti to cover his body and led India to freedom from the British.

India knew about minimalism centuries ago. India knew about the preservation of the environment centuries ago which is the reason trees and rivers were considered sacred. But, sadly, India now appears to be keen to emulate the West.

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