This book summary is based on the more recent fully revised and updated second edition that was released almost three decades after the original. You know those books that resonate so deeply with you that you feel like they were written just for you? Duane Elgin paints vivid visions for the future of humanity and Earth. Ram Dass wrote the original foreword in Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote the foreword to the second revised edition. The exploration of new ways of living that support new ways of being is a movement that arises from the awakening of compassion — the dawning realization that the fate of the individual is intimately connected with the fate of the whole.
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This book summary is based on the more recent fully revised and updated second edition that was released almost three decades after the original. You know those books that resonate so deeply with you that you feel like they were written just for you?
Duane Elgin paints vivid visions for the future of humanity and Earth. Ram Dass wrote the original foreword in Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote the foreword to the second revised edition. The exploration of new ways of living that support new ways of being is a movement that arises from the awakening of compassion — the dawning realization that the fate of the individual is intimately connected with the fate of the whole. The days have now passed when we can ignore the impact of our individual decisions and lifestyles upon the collective.
Personal responsibility for the greater good must become the mark of an informed and conscious people. Well, for one, the way Duane Elgin himself has been described:. I consolidated all of the various definitions I jotted down in my notes. This will help give you a well-rounded description and definition of voluntary simplicity. It turns out voluntary simplicity has a lot of synonyms that Elgin uses throughout the book including:. Simplicity can be applied to every aspect of your life.
The objective of the simple life is not to dogmatically live with less but to live with balance in order to realize a life of greater purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
We can awaken ourselves from the dream of limitless material growth and actively invent new ways to live within the material limits of Earth. With conscious simplicity, we can seek lives that are rich with experiences, satisfaction, and learning rather than packed with things. By embracing a lifeway of voluntary simplicity — characterized by ecological awareness, frugal consumption, and personal growth — people can change their lives.
And in the process, they have the power to change the world. In living more simply we encounter life more directly—in a firsthand and immediate manner. We need little when we are directly in touch with life. Elgin poses many thought-provoking questions throughout the book. Here are my favorites that are worth thinking about:. I'm Kyle, the human behind Sloww. Read my story. When you purchase a book through an Amazon link, Sloww earns a small percentage at no additional cost to you.
This helps fund the costs to support the site and the ad-free experience. Thank you for this. I have been exploring the site and have drawn on so many quotes and ways of viewing the world in which I have never explored.
I am 21 and am questioning a lot of things. However, I have not let it completely take hold of my life. I have many things going for myself and am looking to intertwine this new knowledge and philosophical thought into a greater being of self if that makes sense. I am finding it easier and easier to cope with the brief existential dread I have been feeling for a few days.
With a great life partner by my side, mental health support, journaling, and obtaining greater sources of knowledge, I am finding myself more at ease on this long journey. Thank you for posting these summaries and ideas. Sure thing, TB. Very glad that you found your way here and have found some ease and new perspective. Intertwining your new learnings into your life is a great start. All the best on your journey! Your email address will not be published. Skip to content Skip to footer. 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?
What is Voluntary Simplicity? To live more consciously is to live in a life-sensing manner. It is to taste our experience of life directly as we move through the world. This requires that we pay attention not only to the actions we take in the outer world, but to ourselves acting—our inner world. It is to live with balance—taking no more than we require and, at the same time, giving fully of ourselves. It is to establish a more direct, unpretentious, and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: the things that we consume, the work that we do, our relationships with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos, and more.
Simplicity of living means meeting life face-to-face. It means confronting life clearly, without unnecessary distractions.
It means being direct and honest in relationships of all kinds. It means taking life as it is—straight and unadulterated. It is a way of being in which our most authentic and alive self is brought into direct and conscious contact with living.
First, we must wake up: We can awaken ourselves from the dream of limitless material growth and actively invent new ways to live within the material limits of Earth. You can change your life and change the world: By embracing a lifeway of voluntary simplicity — characterized by ecological awareness, frugal consumption, and personal growth — people can change their lives. And, connect directly with the world: Simplicity fosters a more conscious and direct encounter with the world.
Opportunities for meaningful and important action are everywhere: in the food we eat, the work we do, the transportation we use, the manner in which we relate to others, the clothing we wear, the learning we acquire, the compassionate causes we support, the level of attention we invest in our moment-to-moment passage through life, and so on.
The list is endless, since the stuff of social transformation is identical with the stuff from which our daily lives are constructed. Nothing is lacking. Nothing more is needed than what we already have. We require no remarkable, undiscovered technologies. Simplicity allows the true character of our lives to show through.
It means singleness of purpose and sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose. Of course, as different people have different purposes in life, what is relevant to the purpose of one person might not be relevant to the purpose of another…The degree of simplification is a matter for each individual to settle for himself.
Poverty is mean and degrading to the human spirit, whereas a life of conscious simplicity can have both a beauty and a functional integrity that elevates the human spirit. Involuntary poverty generates a sense of helplessness, passivity, and despair, whereas purposeful simplicity fosters a sense of personal empowerment, creative engagement, and opportunity.
When we look around at the condition of the world, we see a huge number of unmet needs: caring for the elderly, restoring the environment, educating illiterate and unskilled youth, repairing decaying roads and infrastructure, providing health care, creating community markets and local enterprises, retrofitting the urban landscape for sustainability, and many more.
Because there are enormous numbers of unmet needs, there are equally large numbers of purposeful and satisfying jobs waiting to get done. The difficulty is that in many industrialized nations there is such an overwhelming emphasis placed on individual consumption that it has resulted in the neglect of work that promotes public well-being.
We must be conscious of both the choices and ourselves as the chooser. Put differently, to act voluntarily is to act in a self-determining manner. Living ever more consciously goes to the very heart of our species natures and to our core evolutionary journey as a human community. We are enabled to act and live voluntarily. In the stage beyond self-reflective consciousness, we no longer stand apart from existence as observers; now we are fully immersed within it as conscious participants.
We are then empowered by our material circumstances rather than enfeebled or distracted by them. Excess in either direction—too much or too little—is complicating. As we live more simply and our lives become less filled with unnecessary distractions, we find it easier to bring our undivided attention into our passage through life, and are thereby enabled to live more consciously. However, in a number of developed nations, levels of material well-being have moved beyond subsistence to unprecedented abundance.
Living within the limits that the Earth can sustain raises a fundamental question: Can we live more lightly on the material side of life while living with greater satisfaction and meaning on the nonmaterial side of life? In harmony with one another? And in communion with the universe?
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A Detailed Overview of “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin (Book Summary)
Duane Elgin born is an American author, speaker, educator, consultant, and media activist. Duane Elgin grew up near Wilder, Idaho. He attended the Sorbonne in Paris for one semester in and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Idaho in The commission's task was to look ahead from to and explore challenges of urbanization and population growth. Elgin moved to California, where he worked as a senior social scientist with the "futures group" at the Stanford Research Institute now SRI International and co-authored studies of the long-range future.