.: Simplicity :.

'Tis a gift to be simple,
'tis a gift to be free.
'Tis a gift to come down
where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves
in the place just right
'Twill be in the valley
of love and delight.

(The Gift to be Simple, Shaker Hymn)

   In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. (Henry D. Thoreau: Walden, pp. 323-324)

~Signs

Advertisers use road signs to modify our behavior. To make us do things they want us to do. To form a thought, to buy a product, to agree with them on a point of view, to change our opinion. It has been studies by ad agencies, psychologists.

We also have road signs in our home. The carton of milk, books on the shelf. Product names on our appliances. Anything with lettering is a sign. Also logos and images can be signs. These signs work in the say way that road signs work. They direct our thoughts. The designers of products know this. Why do you think the word "TOYOTA" is displayed in such big bold letters on the back of every TOYOTA truck? Who hasn't seen a truck where the owners have blocked out some of the letters to spell: TOY or YO?

Shouldn't our homes be controlled by us, not someone who wants to sell us something or induce us to remember the name of his product, or encourage repeat purchases?

Yes!

Be aware of the signs around you. Be alert to changes in thought or direction of thought which occur when you see these signs. Remove letters, paint over, put away, equip your book case with a cover.

Oh the other hand, you may choose to make signs work for you, effuse you with positive energy, remind you of tasks to be accomplish, teach you, reinforce good habits.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH,
KISS MISSY, SHE DESERVES IT!,
UP AND AT 'EM, CHAMP, YOU CAN DO IT!

My friend Dick Marsh wrote down various "power words," words or expressions which he found energized him. He then had printed up on various colored 4 x 10 cards, brought himself an easel, put the easel in his living room, and rotated the cards as his "word of the day." Not a bad way to use signs.

The Muslim religion prohibits images of God, or Gods, of people, and of animals as art. That doesn't mean that such images, for identification purposes or for teaching, are not used. The use of designs and pattern and design we have come to associate with Persian Rugs and tapestry comes from the artistic nature of Muslims being expressed in art that was allowed.

Putting aside the question of religion and images, let us consider that the simplicity, the quiet, the calm, the peace, the tranquility, which flows from an absence of signs, is a gift from antiquity.

The Muslim world of the 1500's treasured the home above most earthly wealth. The home fronted on the street, but was closed off to the outer world, except by the guarded permission to enter, extended by the owner to his friends. Often a courtyard or garden, very private, well maintained, with carefully selected plants and animals was the treasure of the treasure. A place of tranquility and calm, away from clutter and signs. A simple place, complicated only by occasional patterns. Patterns calculated to aid in contemplation, not detract from it. Some of the best of these patterns have survived even to this day. And the home garden or friendly back yard echo this bygone era. Yet the modern garden can at best equal the designers of Kismet. The simplicity, charm, and intelligent rebuttal of signs of the Islamic culture of these times have never been surpassed.

~Clutter

Simplicity and order of your possessions and objects around you makes it easier to achieve calm, tranquility, organization, accomplishment. Complexity and disorder lead to clutter, disorder, chaos, a mess, a dump, bad smells, filth!

I have a friend who can't resist the lure of mail order catalogs. Those advertisers do such a fine job of making the item offered seem oh so attractive. My friend buys: the electric clock with chimes arrives. He looks for a place to put it. Alas, his living room, his bedroom, in fact every room in the house is already full of OTHER such treasures which he bought last year or last month. So the new clock goes in one of the many piles in the middle of his living room.

When supper time comes, he steps over or walks around the electric clock. When he watches TV he must crane his neck a little to the left so he can see around the electric clock. When dust accumulates, he must move the electric clock to vacuum, then move it back again.

Each time he walks across the room, his progress is impeded by the electric clock. As he passes the electric clock pile, is his attention diverted by the clock or other objects in the pile? Is the electric clock stealing more than just space from his living room? Is it also cluttering his mind? Does he stumble over it as he goes about his daily chores? Does his mind stumble over it every time he glances its way? How many minutes are stolen from his day EACH DAY by the electric clock?

Let's return briefly to the crooked path of Kismet. The clock is creating new universes for my friend with each diversion. The clock closes off other universes where thoughts, ideas, connections are not formed because the clock is directing his attention, creating the clock universes for him. He is being controlled by the clock. And by the other equally interesting but unneeded possessions which now dominate his life.

Kismet tip:

Space has value.
If some thing is occupying a space
it must be at least as valuable
as the space.

In a sense, space is freedom. As long as the clock is occupying the living room space, my friend can't walk through that space, can't use it to exercise, can't invite a friend to share it.

As the owner of a mini-cabin of 120 square feet, I appreciate the value of space. Before moving anything into my wee abode, I must carefully consider the price in lost space the object will cost me. The space in my mini-cabin is more dearer than in my home, since it is such a scarce commodity!

Thoreau's life at Waldon in his own mini-cabin must have taught him the same lessons. We become slaves to our possessions which, most of the time go unused and simply rob us of space. More significantly, they divert our attention, complicate our lives, rob us of the ability to direct our own thoughts.

~Maintenance Problems

As a boy, I would save up money to acquire various possessions. Since there was not much employment for a lad of ten years or so, it took a long time to accumulate the wealth to buy, say a BB gun. When the new acquisition arrived, whatever maintenance it required was handled quite promptly. I just didn't have that many things, so those I had were looked after carefully.

With prosperity, have come gadgets. For most things, I don't have to save for nearly as long a time, nor consider the purchases as carefully as in my youth. All of these gadgets take up space, and break down. It seems that there is always a maintenance problem with something: with a car, with a computer, with the kitchen sink. More and more time, and money, is spent to maintain the doodads I have.

It is easy to get trapped, where time and money are being expended to maintain various gadgets. How much do we use these anyway? Is the possession of those things really worth the part of our lives which we trade for them?

Usually we don't even ask that question. We simply go on, letting our possession run our lives.

Help a friend move. See all the worthless junk your friend has accumulated? Grimace in pain and exhaustion as you carry those boxes of junk up and down the stairs. Shake your head in sadness as you contemplate the hours your poor friend will spend unpacking and trying to find room or all that largely useless paraphernalia in the new home. Then go home to view your own treasures, all the good stuff you have which makes life so interesting. Oh yes, better stop by the computer repair shop on the way home. Maybe somebody there can tell you where to go to get your old HP 35 fixed. That thing is going to be really valuable someday.

~Fairies that Dance on My Wall

I have a picture on my wall by Jessie Wilcox Smith. In it a little girl kneels by a pond full of lily pads. I find looking at the picture to be calming and relaxing. Almost hidden among the lily pads, often missed by people who give the picture only a quick glace, are fairies swimming and playing in the pond! The picture frame is of antique design, the only keepsake I have from the home of two of my grandparents. I have good memories of my grandparents' house, which are recalled by the frame. The choice of the picture and frame and where they are placed was deliberate. If I someday find the framed picture distracting, no longer providing the moment of calming fantasy and fond recollection it now does, or if I just get tired of it, it will be removed.

There is a letter which was on my desk from a rather disagreeable associate who, when confronted with people who take actions not of his liking often blows his cool and threatens to sue. The letter (now removed) contained such threats. When the letter was on my desk, I found that every time I glanced at it I was reminded of the individual and his threats. I would then find myself thinking about the possible dispute with this unpleasant fellow instead of the more important or enjoyable things I really want to contemplate. The letter was an unpleasant distraction. I removed it.

~Objects Hold Feelings

So many objects remind us of events and people. Be alert to such feelings. If you don't like the feelings conjured up by the objects, remove them. You can, and should, control your own intimate surroundings. You own things. Don't let them own you.

Objects which give you good feelings shouldn't necessarily stay. The things appropriate to your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, or office may be quite different. You may wish pictures and objects with a somewhat erotic tone for your bedroom, pictures and knick-knacks to stimulate conversation or interest in your living room and an office environment designed to provide few distractions. If necessary, negotiate with your house-mate to remove that picture of Uncle Ned. He can go in the album instead of staying on the wall. Be prepared to give up that 1983 calendar with the Geisha girls you think is absolutely perfect, but causes your house-mate to cringe.

You don't have to drop everything you are doing and engage in a major redecorating job. We usually grow reasonably comfortable with whatever arrangement we happen to have. Do be mindful of your surroundings and start to make small changes. It's easy. As you look around you ask yourself how various objects make you feel. Clearing away clutter to simplify is an easy second step.

With these baby steps you have already started to use Kismet to direct your own destiny. Don't underestimate the power of taking those first steps. The objects of your home and work place have a very large effect on directing your thoughts and actions. You think you really control your own Kismet? Only to a very limited extent. You are now starting to recognize those limits and are learning that you can overcome them.

~Leapfrogging and Baby-Stepping

I don't wanna, absolutely refuse to do it. You would be bored to tears and besides, I probably wouldn't do it anyway. We simply ain't gonna baby-step our way through learning Kismet. I just wanted to get you started with some simple Kismet lessons. Let's leap-frog to something more interesting: dream control. We can't do that without also talking about the dark side of Kismet. I'll teach you how to use Kismet to control your dreams and to tap into your powerful subconscious mind to better read Kismet. But first, a commercial:

Kismet is Not (just) Collected Techniques but is Unique Thinking.

I'll be giving you a series of techniques, most of which will seem obvious. While you'll find many of these methods useful, some of them may not easily apply to your own life-style. But just as the exercises one learns in Yoga are not Yoga itself, you should not confuse the exercises, methods, and techniques that will be discussed with Kismet. Kismet is a way of thinking, a mind set, a way of looking at the world (universe). Mostly what you'll find in this writing is a collection of parlor tricks which, taken together, may allow you a degree of mastery of your own Kismet.

You could understand Kismet and use it, coming up with an entirely different set of tricks. Your techniques would be equally valid and perhaps even more powerful than those I'll share. Hopefully, the final lesson, one very difficult to teach, is that you CAN control Kismet, at least to a degree. All that is needed is the will and understanding. So much has been lost of the ancient ways of Kismet that what is now illustrated can make no claim to an origin from times past. What is common to past and present Kismet, and indeed has to be, is the understanding, the knowledge, the TRUTH, (and I use that word with trepidation) of Kismet.

Think of Kismet as an onion. We peel away layer after layer only to discover other seemingly similar layers beneath. Examining the layers has value, but one must step back and look at the onion as a whole to appreciate many of its aspects. Look at the onion, turn it around, note its color, its texture, see its root shoots.

Kismet is self-directed fate. It is also the techniques, but those are but parts of the layering. Kismet is a verb, a noun, the object, the technique.

If it is all this, is there anyway you could use the word and use it incorrectly? Of course. But use it as you will, I certainly intend to. I won't attempt to correct your usage and you are far too new a student to presume to correct the master. Yet I am master only to very new students such as yourself. Let us go on together.

Is Kismet beginning to sound like some mystical Oriental religion? Perhaps; though when we have peeled away more layers of the onion it will be considerably de-mystified. And, Hay there reader, you don't have to call me master. His Exalted Omni-powerful Potentate will do just fine. (My apologies if any REAL Exalted Omni-Powerful Potentates happen to be reading this. No offense intended.)

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