About

The religious life is often understood as a modest and humble life of poverty. But the credo of simplicity found across the world’s religions is about simplicity of lifestyle in general, which includes material simplicity as well as intellectual simplicity. For all the complex theories about life and the world around us that have been written throughout human history, religious prophets and sages often ground their philosophies with an underlying sense of simplicity--that truth and meaning in life are simple matters, but that the simplicity of this wisdom is occluded by our many layers of socialization, biases, prejudices, and baser impulses. If we could remove these artificial layers, we too would arrive at a state of simplicity and therefore contentment and happiness.

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Quotations

Hadith
the reported words of the Prophet Muhammad
Islam

“Simplicity is a part of faith.”

Mahatma Gandhi
Acknowledged by Indians as Father of the Nation
Hinduism

"I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith."

Frederic Chopin
Polish composer and pianist
Art & Literature

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”

Sir Isaac Newton
Mathematician and physicist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

William of Ockham
Franciscan friar, philosopher, and theologian
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“It is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.”

Hadith
the reported words of the Prophet Muhammad
Islam

The Prophet peace be upon him said: “My Lord – the Mighty and Majestic – gave me the choice that the valley of Makkah be filled with gold, but I said: No! O Lord. However, grant food to me one day, and hunger the day after. So when I am hungry I humble myself before You and remember You, and when I am full, I am grateful to You.”

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

"The gentleman is at ease without being arrogant; the small man is arrogant without being at ease.’ The Master said, ‘Unbending strength, resoluteness, simplicity and reticence are close to benevolence.”

Bruce Lee
Hong Kong-American martial artist and actor
Art & Literature

“When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV
Tibetan Buddhist leader and activist
Buddhism

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

Mark Twain
American writer and satirist
Art & Literature

“Plain question and plain answer make the shortest road out of most perplexities.”

Lao Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“The great masters of ancient times […]
[were] reserved like a guest
ephemeral like melting ice
simple like uncarved wood”

Hans Hoffman
German-American painter
Art & Literature

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosopher of mind, mathematics, and language
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”

Kahlil Gibran
Lebanese-American poet and painter
Art & Literature

“The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.”

Edward Teller
Hungarian-American physicist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“I believe that no endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect.”

David Hilbert
German mathematician
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

"A mathematical theory is not to be considered complete until you have made it so clear that you can explain it to the first man whom you meet on the street."

Albert Einstein
Theoretical physicist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can't grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.”

Yogananda
Yogi and Guru
Hinduism

“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.”

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism
William Golding
British novelist and Nobel Prize laureate
Art & Literature

“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”

Albert Einstein
Theoretical physicist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”

Yogananda
Yogi and Guru
Hinduism

“Continual intellectual study results in vanity and the false satisfaction of an undigested knowledge.”

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“Let your heart journey in simplicity.
Be one with that which is beyond definition.
Let things be what they are.
Have no personal views.
This is how everything under Heaven is ruled.”

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture
Judaism

"But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity." (Psalm 37:11)

Lao Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“Without going out your door
you can know the whole world
without looking out your window
you can know the Way of Heaven”

Eleanor Roosevelt
Former First Lady of the United States
Art & Literature

“A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.”

Lao Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

"Those with less become content
those with more become confused
sages therefore hold on to one thing
and use this to guide the world
not considering themselves they appear
not displaying themselves they shine
not flattering themselves they succeed
not parading themselves they lead
because they don’t compete
no one can compete against them"

Neil deGrasse Tyson
American astrophysicist and science communicator 1958
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

"Consider to what a remarkable extent the spirituality of people has been overcome by materialism so that spiritual susceptibility seems to have vanished, divine civilization become decadent, and guidance and knowledge of God no longer remain. All are submerged in the sea of materialism."

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

"Observe how darkness has overspread the world. In every corner of the earth there is strife, discord and warfare of some kind. Mankind is submerged in the sea of materialism and occupied with the affairs of this world. They have no thought beyond earthly possessions and manifest no desire save the passions of this fleeting, mortal existence. Their utmost purpose is the attainment of material livelihood, physical comforts and worldly enjoyments such as constitute the happiness of the animal world rather than the world of man."

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture
Judaism

"My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content."
(Psalm 131:1-2)

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture
Judaism

"And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquility
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind."
(Ecclesiastes 4:4-6)