A condition of simplicity

Two lines from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets have acted as a lodestar in my life:

A condition of simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)

As we grow older we need to shed so much un-necessary baggage: prejudices, opinions, possessions, endless mental and physical clutter. Ultimately we realise that, in spite of much rich experience, extensive reading, insights en route, in spite of whatever we may have achieved, at the end we know little. The infinite stretches before us in all its vastness and beauty. And each of us must be ready, like Pilgrim, to shed our burdens and travel unencumbered into the richness of whatever lies ahead.  


8 thoughts on “A condition of simplicity”

  1. Simplicity is one of our Quaker Testimonies and you will see that echoed in every Quaker Meeting House.
    We each have our life to do with as best we can travelling onward along the path. “‘Tis a gift to be simple….”

    Thankyou James

  2. This is what those we care for in our care home, are trying to do. Day by day it is a process of diminishment. Not easy to embrace at the end of a long, rich life.

  3. Thank you so much, James.
    Your words remind me of Lao Tzu’s profound teaching:

    I have just three things to teach:
    simplicity, patience, compassion.
    These three are your greatest treasures.
    Simple in actions and in thoughts,
    you return to the source of being…

    1. stjohn, thank you, and also can you send me afresh your email addressasi have ost it! happy greetings james

  4. Wonderful. I have spent quite some time recently learning the Four Quartets “on the tongue” and by heart, and every day I find new meanings within the poem’s exquisite balance of simplicity and profundity. Funnily enough, a line recently recurring in my mind is the preceding one, “Quick now, here, now, always”.

    I was also, like St John Harris, put in mind of Lao Tzu: only this morning the online reading group I participate in were discussing Chapter 17 of the Tao Te Ching, “Acting Simply”.

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