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Elegant simplicity

New book by peace and environmental activist Satish Kumar sets out how – and why – we should all live more simply
Satish Kumar

Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well, the new book by internationally renowned peace and environmental activist Satish Kumar, 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.

‘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. 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.’

Environmental activist

Living simply

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.

‘If the seven 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’, Satish explains. ‘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, when he subscribed 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’, powerfully inspired his future work.

At 26 he undertook an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage on foot from India to the USA without spending any money. Satish describes that time as ‘the simplest and best eight hundred days of my life’. The remarkable journey was to fast track him towards his life’s purpose.

Satish Kumar

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.

In Elegant Simplicity, Satish – now 82 – distils five decades of reflection and wisdom, providing a practical guide for anyone who wants to get off the relentless treadmill of competition and consumption and seek a life that prioritises the ecological integrity of the Earth, social equity, personal tranquillity and happiness.

Click here to discover the 10 steps to effect positive change, according to Satish Kumar.

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