He cites a simple example of primary goods obtained from nature; many who assume water, air or gas to be part of income rather than capital create a false sense of human power. We could extend this principle to our inner lives as well: if we refuse to accept our human body and abilities as a depleting resource, we may land up creating an illusory sense of self; we imagine power and glory when there’s none. We imagine we are a lion and we think big and fast to solve problems. That’s how we refuse to see beauty and happiness in the small and slow but meaningful things in life, like accepting ourselves the way we are. If we imagine ourselves to be great or powerful then we’ll never be ready to tackle the mighty mind.
Taking baby steps to deal with the mind
Let’s instead take baby steps to deal with our mind and move forward slowly and happily. As Schumacher put it brilliantly, “I think the stupid man who says ‘something is better than nothing’ is much more intelligent than the clever chap who will not touch something unless it is optimal.” Let’s not wait for a day when our mind has a perfect plan to solve all our problems. Instead let’s accept our present condition, and do our little ‘something’ to move forward happily.
Schumacher also raises a relevant question on happiness: Since consumption doesn’t make us happier, we need to ask ourselves what’s our goal – more consumption or happiness? If it’s happiness then we need to practise the philosophy of ‘enoughness’ which is based on accepting our limitations and harmonizing it with our needs. He notes how people living in communities and doing meaningful work are happier.
This simple principle works perfectly in our inner world when we say ‘No’ to excessive gratification – it is ‘enough’. When we accept our limitations our ‘smallness’ liberates us from the shackles of our mind’s imprisonment. We can then easily see through the bubble of grandiose plans offered by a mind that’s steeped in illusion.
This awareness and acceptance then creates a virtuous cycle and the result is that we do our little bit by doing well in the small world of our own family and community. The positive spiral will in turn contribute significantly to the overall goodness of the people on this planet.It thus begins with the self – the inside out; take care of your inner self and see the world external of you find its own balance.