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Voluntary Simplicity

On This Page: [Voluntary Simplicity]   [Eliminating Credit Card Junk Mail]   [Reducing Spam]  [Links]


Download the Special Dharma Life: The Dharma of Simplicity (PDF 1374 K file)

Voluntary simplicity can be defined, and lived, in many ways. Duane Elgin, in his book Voluntary Simplicity, says that “to live more voluntarily is to live more deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully—in short, it is to live more consciously” and “to live more simply is to live ... with a minimum of needless distraction”. So a life of voluntary simplicity means to be aware and conscious as we live and, out of that awareness, to make deliberate choices to live more directly and with less clutter. People may also choose to live simply in order to promote social goals: to express solidarity with people who have too little, to free up time and energy to work for social change, and to use a minimum of the earth’s finite resources and contribute as little as possible to environmental degradation and to human suffering.

From a Buddhist perspective, the personal and social goals of voluntary simplicity are intertwined. By becoming more conscious about the way we spend money and time, we open ourselves to notice aspects about our society that cause unnecessary suffering to ourselves and to others. We begin to take some actions to lessen that suffering. We learn about the institutional barriers that prevent us and others from choosing to live in the most responsible way and that cause suffering to others, and we gain courage to work with others to remove these barriers. We can use voluntary simplicity practice as a doorway into the Eightfold Path.

Because our society promotes consumerism and complexity, it is often difficult to practice simplicity by ourselves; we feel we are “swimming against the tide.” Being part of a community, such as a Buddhist sangha or a voluntary simplicity group, can help by reassuring us that we are not alone: other people are struggling with similar problems and engaged in solving them. Our sangha has found a group discussion course developed by the Northwest Earth Institute to be helpful in providing a space for us to discuss aspects of voluntary simplicity in a respectful and empowering way. This eight-week group discussion course, called Voluntary Simplicity, can be used by any group of 8 to 14 people who want to consider ways that practicing voluntary simplicity can enrich their lives, lessen suffering, and help them take more responsibility for how they impact the earth and its beings.

To learn more about this course, write to us or go directly to Northwest Earth Institute’s web site. Northwest Earth Institute also has group discussion courses on Deep Ecology and Choices for Sustainable Living. Check their web site for more information on these courses.


Eliminating Credit Card Junk Mail

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Many people at the Zen Center have asked how they can eliminate all the unwanted solicitations for credit cards that they receive through the mail. There is one phone number that you can call to permanently remove your name from all mailing lists that the credit agencies supply to direct marketers. The phone number is 1-888-567-8688. You will be asked to give your name and address. It is best to spell out this information. You should specify that you want your name removed permanently; otherwise it may be added back after a few years.


Reducing Spam

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If e-mail address must appear on a website, you can make it more difficult for spyder software to harvest it for use by spammers. Note: it is impossible to make your e-mail available to the public, but unavailable to spammers. Most spammers, however, rely on crude software to harvest lots of e-mail addresses, so these simple steps will make it not worth their while.

One thing you can do is to encode the letters of your address (i.e. use special character codes instead of the normal ascii characters). For example, while this link: info@missourizencenter.org appears normal, it is actually coded like this:

<a href="mailto:&#0109;&#97;&#105;&#108;&#116;&#111;
&#58;&#105;n&#102;&#0111;&#64;&#109;&#105;&#0115;
&#0115;&#111;&#117;&#114;&#105;&#122;&#101;&#110;&#099;
&#0101;&#0110;&#116;&#101;&#114;&#046;&#111;&#0114;
&#0103;">&#105;n&#102;&#0111;&#064;&#0109;&#0105;
&#115;&#115;&#0111;&#117;&#0114;&#105;&#122;&#101;
&#110;&#99;&#101;&#0110;&#0116;&#101;&#0114;&#046;
&#0111;&#0114;&#0103;</a>

A quick search on “e-mail encode” will bring you plenty of websites that can automatically generate the code for you. Here is one example: http://www.proles.net/emailencoder/.

Many spammers gather e-mails by looking for a text string with the @ symbol in the middle. So another way of protecting your address is to split the text string so that the @ symbol doesn’t appear with your username and e-mail server domain name. For example, if you copy this script into the <HEAD> section of your html:

<script language=javascript>
<!--
function addLink(text,user,domain)
{
var linktext = text;
var email1 = user;
var email2 = domain;
document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + email1 + "@" + email2 + ">" + linktext + "</a>")
}
//-->

You can then call this function anywhere in the <BODY> of your html page like this:

<SCRIPT>
<!--
addLink("email me","myname","myserver.com");
//-->
</SCRIPT>

Or you can do a combination of both:

<SCRIPT>
<!--
addLink("&#106;&#111;&#101;&#064;&#106;&#111;&#101;
&#116;&#104;&#101;&#106;&#117;&#103;&#103;&#108;
&#101;&#114;&#046;&#099;&#111;&#109;","&#106;&#111;&#101;","&#106;&#111;&#101;&#116;&#104;&#101;&#106;
&#117;&#103;&#103;&#108;&#101;&#114;&#046;&#099;
&#111;&#109;");
//--> </SCRIPT>

More Links Related to Voluntary Simplicity

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Northwest Earth Institute: http://www.nwei.org

Hearts and Minds: http://www.heartsandminds.org/

Simple Living: The Journal of Voluntary Simplicity: http://www.simpleliving.com

The Dollar Stretcher: http://www.stretcher.com

The Garden: http://www.thegarden.net/

Adbusters (uncommercials, buy nothing day): http://www.adbusters.org/

Center for a New American Dream: http://www.newdream.org

Natural Life Magazine: http://www.life.ca/index.html

Simple Living Network: http://simpleliving.net