This book summary is based on the more recent fully revised and updated second edition that was released almost three decades after the original. So much so, that I even said this about it: You know those books that resonate so deeply with you that you feel like they were written just for you? Ram Dass wrote the original foreword in Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote the foreword to the second revised edition.
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What is Voluntary Simplicity? Extravagance and acquisitiveness are accordingly considered an unfortunate waste of life, certainly not deserving of the social status and admiration they seem to attract today. The affirmation of simplicity arises from the recognition that very little is needed to live well — that abundance is a state of mind, not a quantity of consumer products or attainable through them.
It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan. And it is not some escapist fad reserved for saints, hippies, or eccentric outsiders. A Glorification of Poverty? Voluntary simplicity can be misinterpreted sometimes as glorifying or romanticizing poverty, a myth encouraged perhaps by the fact that some of the more extreme proponents of simplicity — e.
Diogenes, St Francis, Gandhi, etc. Such extremism can be alienating if it is considered to be a defining or necessary feature of the simple life, which it is not. It is of the utmost importance, then, to be perfectly clear on this point: voluntary simplicity does not mean poverty. Poverty, in its various dimensions, is debilitating and humiliating.
It is about the importance of understanding and attaining material sufficiency,  while, at the same time, creating a life rich in its non-material dimensions. Just for Hippies? Living simply does not necessarily imply leaving the city to live in the country; nor does it mean becoming a hippie or joining a commune.
Although some may find that an agrarian existence is a very good and natural way to live, it will not be attractive or available to everyone; nor will living in a hippie commune. Indeed, learning how to live more simply and sustainably in an increasingly urbanized world is surely one of the greatest challenges of our age, especially since legal and political institutions and social infrastructure make urban simple living, especially, much more difficult than it needs to be.
It should be added, however, that those movements do share some common ideals with voluntary simplicity, such as anti-consumerism, self-sufficiency, the celebration of life, a deep respect for nature, and non-violent resistance to unjust features of society.
Voluntary simplicity, furthermore, does not mean indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not mean living in a cave, giving up all the benefits of electricity, or rejecting modern medicine. But it does question the assumption that science and technology are always the most reliable paths to health, happiness, and sustainability. It is certainly better to accept rather than reject the advantages, though so dearly bought, which the invention and industry of humankind offer — provided, of course, that they are genuine advantages.
Clearly, this is far from being primitive or regressive. Just perhaps our modern technocratic societies will one day come to see that there is a sophistication and elegance to the clothesline, the bicycle, and the water tank that the dryer, the automobile, and the desalination plant, decidedly lack.
The term voluntary simplicity was coined by Richard Gregg, an American lawyer and committed follower of Gandhi. Our position is that simple living will improve not only our own lives, but the lives of others, as well as help save our planet from the environmental catastrophe towards which we are so enthusiastically marching.
We must experiment creatively, like the artist. We must be the poets of our own lives and of a new generation.
A Detailed Overview of “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin (Book Summary)
This alone promotes real happiness and contentment. It essentially shows us how we can make changes in our lives for a resilient and sustainable future as well as for a greater sense of personal well-being. In Elgin co-authored a U. In he published the book of the same name, and in the current revised edition was published. If we do, then we can avoid the catastrophes that climate change threatens us with, and we can soften the blows that will surely come as a result of peak oil and the depletion of other resources.
The report was expanded and republished with a survey in CoEvolution Quarterly in More than a thousand pages were received in response to the survey. These first-hand accounts formed the basis for his book Voluntary Simplicity, which appeared in During the s, he co-founded two non-profit non-partisan organizations concerned with media accountability and citizen empowerment. Their mission was to give citizens a greater voice in their community by using the public airwaves for interactive "electronic town meetings".
What is Voluntary Simplicity? Extravagance and acquisitiveness are accordingly considered an unfortunate waste of life, certainly not deserving of the social status and admiration they seem to attract today. The affirmation of simplicity arises from the recognition that very little is needed to live well — that abundance is a state of mind, not a quantity of consumer products or attainable through them. It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan.