The term simplicity has two different meanings: one positive, which points out that something is easy to comprehend or to do. The second one is pejorative from which comes its derivative “simpleton,” saying that someone is stupid, uneducated, etc. Also, such an expression as “simplistic” implies that it is not complete and faulty.
On the other hand, when we say: Copernicus cosmic model is more simple than Ptolomeus, its assessment is positive. So there arises a question: what are the roots of this contradiction?
The cult of complication
Strangely the presence of those two meanings is not accidental: since the beginning of stratification, the upper classes tried to make access to essential skills and knowledge complicated in order to be available only to those who had wealth, time, education) to learn them. This way, its control over the lower class was additionally reinforced. The excellent example of that is extremely complicated Sansrcrit language, meant to be only mastered by the highest caste, the Brahmins.
This phenomenon was present in other cultures where the art of reading and writing was relatively rare beyond priests, monks and scribes. This state continued until the Renaissance when Gutenberg invented printing. It enabled the expansion of Protestant religion, where the Bible was supposed to be read even by lower classes.
The phenomenon of making understanding and some intellectual skills complicated was not limited only to reading and writing. Another, critically important, is medicine, which directly affects human life. This knowledge was purposely hidden and available for the chosen few. It continues until today when access to medical schools is notoriously difficult, and studies, during which students are stuffed with tonnes of mostly useless information, are exceptionally long.
The simple solutions are often viewed as incomplete and primitive and only rarely are universally accepted. As we know for a long time, humanity suffered from a very high level of mortality because of the lack of basic hygiene. This simple discovery was viewed with suspicion, and it took a while until it became a usual practice.
The cult of complications exponentially grows during recent times. The most obvious example is Wikipedia, where articles about such subjects as mathematics, physic or biology were accessible for most people who have a high school education. It recently changed and filled with terminology which even specialists have difficulty comprehending. Anything you would like to know is overd[stuffed with pieces of information accessible (with difficulties) only by fellow professionals.
Please, do not think that I am propagating some conspiracy theory, it is simply the effect of growing stratification, in this case, between the experts and authorities and others who have no choice but to believe whatever they say.
It is useful to distinguish the meaning of two similar terms: simplicity and simplification. Various con artists and demagogues often use the second one for political or financial gains.
Complication and complexity
These two terms are often considered synonymous. But if we look deeper, the similarity is quite superficial. The complexity comes from the composition of com, which means together and plex, which denotes interwoven, interconnected. In complication, com means the same, but then the root of plication is plicare, which in Latin means: folded together confused, intricate. It subtly implies some deliberate effort to make meaning of something not too simple.
For example, it may require patience and attention to unknot a complex knot, but once it is done, we discover just a simple piece of rope. Einstein’s alleged saying symbolizes that: “If you can’t explain something to a six-year-old, you really don’t understand it yourself”.
Perhaps, it is some exaggeration, but Einstein’s theory of relativity is fundamentally simple though the mathematical formalism necessary to present it is somewhat complex.
The set theory, one of the foundations of modern mathematics, could be relatively easily explained to children or people to profess themselves is incapable of understanding mathematics (the author successfully tried that). On the other hand, the art of division of numbers dutifully taught in elementary school for centuries is complicated. It is even more nonsensical when in high school, teenagers are forced to learn how to calculate square roots, a piece of knowledge, which most of them forget hours after the exams. It is particularly absurd nowadays when each smartphone has many powerful and simple calculator apps that can do much more.
The joys of simplicity
When complication leads one to self-depreciation, simplicity often is a source of joy. The universally known example is when Archimedes exclaimed “Eureka” when it discovered what now is called Archimedes law, which is incredibly simple. Eureka means “a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.” Newton’s discovery of gravity law is also simple and has served humanity for over 350 years, even though in some exceptional situations, Einstien’s General Theory of Relativity (which even in its essence is also simple) provides more precise results.
Many of us experience this kind of joy when in the moment of understanding, exclaims: “It was so simple.” It happens because, in such a moment, we connect with our innate wisdom, which among other aspects, manifests as the freedom to understand.
From AI and neuroscience point of view, one of the most complex phenomena is the mechanism leading to recognizing the perceived object’s identity. In the majority of cases, this process is hardly noticeable because of its commonness and shortness. However, if we encounter something that we initially cannot recognize, in the moment of recognition, we experience its simplicity and associated joy. It is due to reconnecting with our innate wisdom, which in this case, manifests itself as discernment.
The perception is so common that not many of us would consider them joyous. However, it becomes discoverable in case one’s perceptual abilities become impaired due to medical conditions, accidents, and so on, makes us appreciate and long for their presence. However, if we can recover them, we can fully experience the joy of perceiving.
Perception is an excellent example of simplicity and complexity. It is simple to experience and acts instantly. However, there is no, as yet, developed any neuroscientific and physical model explaining the process. Why? Because of its complexity.
Complications in mind practices.
So far, we discussed simplicity in the context of our everyday or intellectual activities. However, the scope of this issue goes beyond those and also applies to mind practices.
Form its beginning Homo Sapience discovered the importance of mind practices. It was the domain of various religions, each introducing their version. The oldest ones used dance accompanied by simple instruments like drums and wind instruments. It was affecting participants’ minds, sometimes leading to some altered states of consciences end even ecstatic experiences. Later on, such practices’ repertoire has been expanded by including singing, chants, and prayers.
When Hinduism has been invented, several new practices have been added, such as visualizations and repetitive phrases known as mantras. It has been followed by the arising of Buddhism, which was very different. It identified the sources of human problems, which are attachment to material richness, aggression and ignorance. Consequently, it proposed an extremely simple lifestyle combined with meditation, similar to mindfulness. Later on, however, while to the original Buddhism was added Mahayana, which required intellectual contemplation and finally Vajrayana, which, similarly to Hinduism, used visualizations and reciting mantras, the degree of complication increased enormously.
More oriented towards maintaining some social and moral principles, Judaism later introduced singing as an important ritual and intellectual contemplation in the Talmud. Finally, its offshoot, Christianity, relies heavily on prayers, special ceremonies like mass and choral singing.
All practices utilized by religion (except the original Buddhism) require the unquestionable belief in supernatural forces or beings. That heavily impacts practitioners’ lives, often causing doubts or feelings of guilt and forcing practitioners to suppress their natural critical intelligence.
As mentioned earlier, our minds are indoctrinated by the web of beliefs, blocking our innate wisdom and making it extremely difficult to accept changes in our views on human society. These beliefs are highly interdependent and so deeply ingrained in our minds that removing them by intellectual means alone is hardly possible. Consequently, to our intellectual reasoning, it is necessary to add mind practices, loosening our emotional attachment to these beliefs. Such practices have to be straightforward, free from complications and accessible to everybody who wishes to use them. One of them is briefly described in the following section.
Mind resting practice
The mind practice proposed here is adopted from the work of 14 century Tibetan sage Longchen Rabjam entitled: “The Precious Treasury of Basic Space of Phenomena.” The main reason for not using the original is that it would be very difficult to comprehend by the modern reader unaccustomed to the original’s highly metaphorical and poetic language. Before proposing the practice, the author used himself as a guinea pig, and after that, he tried it with a few of his friends.
This practice’s paramount quality is its simplicity, in the sense of absence of intellectual or mental complications. However, the author does not offer any scientifically accepted model supporting this method because it cannot rely on neuroscience, which is still in its infancy. Only recently, it begins to go beyond its old 20-century simplistic approach and looking at the manifestation of energies behind mental processes. Until then, the reader can only rely on once own experience.
The purpose of resting mind practice is to eliminate, or at least weaken, the attachment to our beliefs stemming from ideas of possessiveness and desire to dominate and ignore it. These ideas and our attachment result from a long brainwashing process g supporting the necessity of stratification of human society, as discussed in a separate post. The technique is simple: allowing our minds to rest without unnecessary thinking. This kind of thinking creates a mental noise, covering up our attachments.
Here is a more detailed description of this technique:
“Simply rest one’s body in a comfortable position, keeping eyes open without focusing on anything. If a thought arises, what is unavoidable, just realize that. This realization causes it to dissolve back into the state of rest. However, this resting is not some form of dumb ignorance, to the contrary, it is alive and vivid. It is essential not to make any effort for maintaining this state, like cutting or suppressing the thoughts”.
Below is included a video of the author performing this practice. It is added because, for some reason, this is often helpful to look at a person resting one’s mind and join her or him.
The video is short, just to transmit such a state, but the viewer may continue it.
In case one have any question, please get in touch with me in whatever way you want: comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Messenger or similar.
The presented practice is simple and must not be combined with any popular modern kinds of other techniques like mindfulness, compassion training, mantras recitation or visualization. They may have virtues on their own, but adding them to the practicing mind resting should be avoided. It would compromise is simplicity and effortlessness.