It is one of the best feelings I know of: The feeling of sufficiency, and a sense that the sufficiency will last. For many of us westerners, there is an excess of the material such that we cannot recognise abundance, much less enjoy it. At the same time our emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives can be desperately impoverished – often because we’re expending so much effort on earning the money to buy the things, that living comes a poor second. In all non-material ways, we tend towards insufficiency.
To know that you have enough brings peace and contentment. Recognition of material sufficiency is liberating. Why suffer anxiety over social status, the perceptions of others, ‘keeping up’ and all that other nonsense designed to keep us consuming, when you can have the peace of ‘enough’?
Enough good food and clean water. Enough warmth and shelter. Enough useful clothing. Enough rest, peace and safety. Those are the basics of sufficiency. Only when we recognise them can we hope to also recognise how unacceptable it is that so many people in our wealthy world lack for these things. They should be available to all. We should be ashamed to wallow in excess.
Recognising material sufficiency makes it easier to see what is good. A wide screen television is not happiness, nor is a new car. You might do things with them that make you happy sometimes, but the object is not happiness. The experience of beauty is a far more reliable form of happiness, but we are destroying the beauties of the natural world to make the objects that are not embodiments of joy. Companionship is happiness, but the work patterns that pay for the objects make us ever more socially isolated. We stay at home with the screen that is not beauty, is not companionship and is not happiness, but does a poor imitation of all three.
Objects are not happiness, and so in our object filled lives we are not happy, but we’ve been taught to deal with that by getting ever more objects. This is a game that no one gets to win.