My schedule for many years has been quite simple. I begin my day at 4 a.m. with a few stretching exercises. Then, I practice various yogic postures and pranayama. Once I have finished this routine, I meditate for two hours. When my day officially begins, I am ready to take on the world. In the evening, I concentrate exclusively on three hours of meditation before retiring.
Simplicity in thought and action is a form of divine poetry. I have owned a small cabin in Spain for the past two years, and, in the spring and summer, I work the land. My goal is self-sufficiency. While my life is defined by my relationship with the earth, I feel that my simple existence is a form of worship, a prayer to God in the highest sense. I am writing a love poem to the Lord with the story of my life. The light of wisdom is the poetry of our soul, and enlightened living opens a window that transforms the world of time into the radiance of eternity. The sacred quality of existence is not a theorem created by thought, rather, like the fragrance of a rose, it is a truth that must be lived and experienced.
Recently, I purchased a small piece of land next to my cabin. For the past six months, I have let it be known that I would happy to take care of abused or unwanted animals, until I can find a proper and loving home for them. I am building a barn to serve as a shelter for all of my companions on the path.
Whenever I see an abused, unwanted, or malnourished animal, my heart is torn to pieces. The least that I can do is offer my friendship to the lonely and unwanted creatures of the world. What is the point of life if we cannot give our love unconditionally to our fellow beings? There are no strangers in life, only friends that we have yet to meet.
The vegetarian diet is one aspect of the simple life. Long ago, I decided to live in the vegetarian way, without killing or eating animals; and lately I have largely ceased to use dairy products. I have allied myself with the vegans, who eat no animal products, butter, cheese, eggs or milk. This is all in line with my philosophy of the least harm to the least number (and the greatest good to the greatest number) of life forms.
I have aimed to keep my diet at fifty percent fruit, thirty-five percent vegetables, ten percent protein and starch, and five percent fat. The kind of fruits vary with the season; its proportion of my total diet remains substantially the same. Of the vegetables, I have tried to have one-third leafy green, one-third yellow and one-third juicy. This has ensured me a rounded quota of essential nutritives. In the summer, fruits and succulent vegetables are at least three-quarters of my diet---in winter, perhaps a third to a half. My protein comes from nuts, beans, olives (in great supply in Spain) and the proteins contained in vegetables and in cereal grains and seeds. I believe that a far smaller amount of protein is necessary and healthful than is usually advocated. The craving for foods with concentrated protein is an acquired and dangerous habit, in that it over-energizes the human organism and overloads the system with acid-forming elements. My "fats" are essentially derived from vegetable oils-----olive, soy, corn, peanut or sunflower. I have a high opinion of the efficacy of olive oil. Avocado pears are also an important source of vegetable fat for people living on the vegetable diet.
In my search for simplicity, I have chosen the direction of a mono-diet, as opposed to elaborate variety. To eat little and of few things is a good guide for health. I have also discovered that the closer one gets to the mono-diet the easier is the process of digestion.
Apply to vegetables and fruit the principles of wholeness, rawness, garden freshness, and limited variety at a meal, and you have the theory of my simple diet. In practice, the theory gives me a formulated regime: fruit for breakfast, soup and cereal for lunch; salad and vegetables for supper.
All of my meals are eaten at a wooden plank table, in wooden bowls, and the same bowl is used for the entire meal. This practically eliminates the dish-washing problem. With no sauces and no frying, there are few dishes to wash and pans to scrub. I eat my salads with chop sticks, because they are more selective and discriminating in picking up food than the shovel-like fork. I also feel that wooden eating utensils are more neutral and modify the flavor less than the metallic table tools.
My food habits are simple, economical and practical. In modern life, the business of procuring the necessities of life has shifted from the wood lot, the garden, the kitchen and the family to the factory and large-scale enterprise. In my case, I have moved my center back to the land. I raise the food that I eat. I find it sufficient, delicious and nourishing. On this diet, I maintain a rugged health, without patronizing too many doctors. My apothecary shop is the woods and fields. By attention to diet, many diseases can be prevented, and others mitigated. It is a just observation that he who lives by intelligent rules and a wholesome diet is a physician unto himself. With vegetables, fruits, nuts and cereals, I have maintained a healthy body as the vehicle for a sane mind and a purposeful, harmless life.
Love is a sacred river of truth, and we must gamble all that we have, all that we "think" we are, in order to drink from its pure, undiluted water. Compassion, as the expression of love, is a cool breeze on a hot summer's day. It is the simple wisdom of the heart reaching out and transforming a sometimes complicated and violent world.
Simple and enlightened living is the way of truth. I can think of no other reason for existence than "to love" and "be loved", and the simplicity of love is the key to both Self-realization and God-realization. True living is an expression of the poetry of our soul; it is a worthy offering to the divine in the form of selfless service. May we all aspire to create a work of art with the fabric of our lives.