Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well, the new book from environmental activist and former monk, Satish Kumar, shares an urgent message for our times: we must simplify our lives to create a more sustainable world for all.
The book will be published on Thursday 18 April by New Society Publishers, sharing timely guidance for simplifying our lives.
Consumerism drives the pursuit of happiness in much of the world, yet as wealth grows, unhappiness abounds, compounded by the grave problems of climate change, pollution and ecological degradation. We’ve now reached both an environmental and spiritual dead-end that leaves us crying out for alternatives.
In Elegant Simplicity, Satish – who edited the UK’s longest standing green magazine Resurgence for over 43 years – presents his hypothesis that simplicity is the prerequisite for sustainability, spiritual wellbeing and social harmony. Exploring how we can live more simply in all areas of our lives – from education, work, art and health, to walking, pilgrimage, love and relationships – the book’s core message is that we must urgently reduce the amount we consume and learn the art of living well with less.
Satish Kumar elucidates: “If the 7 billion people on this planet were to accumulate and consume and then waste and pollute as we Europeans and Americans do, we would need at least three planets. But we only have one planet, therefore living simply and making a small footprint on the Earth is a sustainability imperative.”
Satish recounts how the seeds of simplicity in his own life were sown as a Jain monk in India from the age of nine, subscribing to the philosophy that material minimalism maximises spiritual wellbeing. Renouncing the monkhood at 18 and going to live in a Ghandian ashram, Ghandi’s statement of social justice “Live simply so that others may simply live” was to powerfully inspire his future work. Undertaking, at 26, an 8000-mile peace pilgrimage on foot from India to the USA without spending any money, Satish describes it as “the simplest and best eight hundred days of my life”. The remarkable journey was to fast track him towards his life’s purpose.
Becoming editor of Resurgence in 1973, Satish transported the values of the Gandhian movement to the West, beginning his life’s work as an emissary for environmental sustainability, peace and social justice, which continues up to the present day. Over the decades he has authored several books, presented various documentaries including BBC TV’s Earth Pilgrim, and been the guiding spirit behind a number of internationally respected ecological and educational ventures including Devon’s Schumacher College.
Now 82, in Elegant Simplicity Satish distils five decades of reflection and wisdom providing a practical guide for everyone wanting off the relentless treadmill of competition and consumption and seeking a life that prioritises the ecological integrity of the Earth, social equity, personal tranquillity and happiness.
“Satish Kumar’s book Elegant Simplicity shows the intimate connections between the inner and outer world, soil, soil and society, beauty, joy and non-violence,” says environmental activist, Vandana Shiva. “It indicates that solutions to the big problems of our time – climate change, hate and violence, hopelessness and despair – lie in thinking and living with elegant simplicity and reducing our ecological footprint, while enlarging our hearts and minds.”
Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well will be published in hardback on Thursday 18 April by New Society Publishers, with a foreword by Fritjof Capra. For more information and to pre-order or buy a copy of the book for £15.53, visit Amazon. The book will also be available in all quality bookstores and online retailers, as well as from the Resurgence website: www.resurgence.org