“Live Simply So Others May Simply Live,” Gandhi

I have been meditating on this quote for a while, to really understand the meaning behind Gandhi’s words.

Gandhi lived in a day and age were the simple truths that we take for granted, like justice, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were not self-evident.  Though some may argue that these truths are still not evident, I would think most of us feel that these rights are more or less present in our day-to-day activities.

The pursuit of happiness is the one truth I wish to focus on, because I feel this is the one right we have the most control over.  The laws and liberties have mostly been prescribed to us.  But the pursuit of happiness is within our reach.

Gandhi and Yogananda Aug. 1935. It was during this visit that Gandhi received Kriya Yoga initiation from Yogananda

Why live simply?… So others may simply live! If we use up our natural resources, trash the earth with our waste, and end up destroying ecosystems around the world, what kind of life are our grand kids going to inherit?  Gandhi also said, “we must be the change we wish to see.”  Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.”

If we don’t take responsibility for our actions, it will come back one way or another.  We believe it’s best to teach our kids from a young age how to take care of our mother earth, so she can take care of us.  It’s important for them to see that living simply can be fulfilling and joyful.  Without the added desires of consumerism, one can learn to enjoy the simple things in life.  Happiness is found within, as all the great masters have said through the ages, not somewhere outside of ourselves.  Swami Kriyananda says, “The secret of happiness is the determination to be happy always, rather than wait for outer circumstances to make one happy.”

Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda Village, direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda

At the Natural Living School, the wish is to help the participants understand that the pursuit of happiness is attainable by simplifying ones life, connecting to nature, and going deep within to unlock the inner joy that lights our flame of passion through meditation, yoga, and self-realization.  So try it, live simply, so others can simply live.

What is Natural Living?

In a way, one of the most basic understandings in eastern philosophies has been lost in the “Age of Energy.”  As a result of all our technology, we spend more time on cell phones, the internet, watching TV, and in cars running around like high tech chickens with our heads cut off.  The art of slowing down, taking time to enjoy the moment, and being present is pushed aside in the name of efficiency.  Why?  One answer is; because we think this will lead to our happiness.

Sunset in Los Padres National Forest

Some of us think that if we are more efficient with our time, then we will have more time to do the things we enjoy.  But at the end of the day, with all the time that was saved, how many of us actually did something joyful, or self-fulfilling?  Yes, there are some exceptions, but over all many of us think that our joy will come from outside ourselves.  I used to think that I would find joy once I had a little more money, which would give me a little more time.  Not so.

The Cob Cottage where we stayed while we worked on natural building projects at Spirit Pine Sanctuary

Our experiences these past couple years have truly shown us what it means to have quality time.  For months at a time we were without cell phone, internet, television, or any basic communication with the outside world.  Our time was spent in nature, sourcing natural materials from the land, the forest, and neighbors in order to build natural buildings that would be enjoyed by all.

At community meals we all took turns cooking for each other, Thanksgiving 2010

When we were not building, or sourcing materials, we spent our time in community taking turns cooking for each other, having great conversations, and playing with our children.  It wasn’t that we weren’t busy, or that we had surplus time.  In fact we were easily as busy as when we lived in the city, working all the time, driving the kids around, and doing endless errands.  The difference was that we were busy doing something that was fulfilling to our spirits.

Community Cob Building at Spirit Pine where we shared meals, cleaned together, and hung out playing music

The idea of simple living doesn’t mean to give up all your possessions and move to the country, or to the wilderness, it simply means to evaluate your time and expenses so that you’re doing something that feeds your soul.   It helps to lower your expenses,  to grow some of your own food, and to have a low housing cost, but it’s not a requirement to be poor.  Some of the happiest people I know in South America are looked upon as poor, but in my eyes, they are rich in spirit, love, and joy.  They were always willing to share what little they had, with joyful abundance.

Thank you Betty, Tatacho, Levi and all the friends we made at Spirit Pine Sanctuary.  It was wonderful working, living, and playing with you all.

The Natural Living School

In this day and age, where the answer to many questions are just a click away, people are still having a hard time answering the age old question, “why do I feel so unhappy?”  Most of us, who have tried to answer this question, have come up with several logical answers.

“More money,” if I had more money than I would be happy. 

“Better job,” if I had a job I liked, or if I had a job that paid more, then I would be happy. 

“More time,” if I had more time to do what I wanted, then I would be happy. 

The list can go on, and on, but these are some of the most common answers.  At the Cob Cottage Company, as you walk up the trail to the main building, there is a sign that says, “There are two ways to get rich, you can make more money or you can require less.”  The truth to us is in the second statement, “to require less.” 

Oliver and Esme's Hands Making Natural Plasters

The Natural Living School is a place where people can come to explore how to live simply and require less, to gain experience so they can construct natural buildings that are affordable for themselves and their families, to learn how to grow their own food so they can lower their food costs, and to gain the confidence to change their lives forever.

"Joy is within" sign at Ananda Village entrance. Hansa Temple in the background

The Natural Living School is an organization, focused on examining and co-creating new and old methods of sustainable living and natural building. Come and study with us, the art of natural living and higher thinking.

The View from Sunset Ridge. I like to think of these trees as old friends holding hands