Watkins MBS blog

Elegant Simplicity

Environmental trailblazer and former monk, Satish Kumar, shares a vital message for our times: we must learn to live well with less to create a more sustainable future for our planet.


Due to turn 83 this August, Satish Kumar has been one of the major pioneers of the UK environmental movement since the late 60s, and the key force behind Resurgence magazine as the UK’s longest-standing green magazine.

In the wake of the Extinction Rebellion protests, the children’s climate strikes and with the UK recently declared a national climate emergency by parliament, Satish has a remarkable wealth of wisdom to share for how we can all meaningfully and purposefully respond to our environmental crisis, gleaned from his 50 years as a leading environmental activist and writer.

At a time when our human society and our natural world are under urgent threat; when the UN says we have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe; and when this reality is taking a toll on the mental health of many faced with this stark truth – Satish’s new book, Elegant Simplicity, has an urgent message for our times: live simply and consume less to create a more sustainable world for all.

Elegant Simplicity explores how we can live more simply in all areas of our lives – from education, work, art and health, to walking, pilgrimage, love and relationships. And Satish recounts how the seeds of simplicity in his own life were sown as a Jain monk in India from the age of nine, subscribing to the philosophy that material minimalism maximises spiritual wellbeing. Renouncing the monkhood at 18 and going to live in a Gandhian ashram, Gandhi’s statement of social justice, “Live simply so that others may simply live,” was to powerfully inspire his future work. As renowned spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra has noted, “Satish Kumar embodies the elegance of simplicity in his life and teachings.”

Satish Kumar (right) and E.P. Menon during their 8,000 mile Pilgrimage for Peace, 1973–4.

Undertaking, at 26, an 8000-mile peace pilgrimage on foot from India to the USA without spending any money, Satish describes it as “the simplest and best eight hundred days of my life”. The remarkable journey was to fast track him towards his life’s purpose. Becoming editor of Resurgence in 1973, Satish transported the values of the Gandhian movement to the West, beginning his life’s work as an emissary for environmental sustainability, peace and social justice, which continues up to the present day.

Over the decades he has authored several books, presented various documentaries including BBC TV’s Earth Pilgrim, and been the guiding spirit behind a number of internationally respected ecological and educational ventures including Devon’s Schumacher College.

In Elegant Simplicity, Satish distils five decades of reflection and wisdom providing a practical guide for everyone wanting off the relentless treadmill of competition and consumption and seeking a life that prioritises the ecological integrity of the Earth, social equity, personal tranquillity and happiness. Sacred Economics author, Charles Eisenstein, says: “Weaving vivid stories and lucid wisdom teachings, gentle yet direct, this book is a magnificent embodiment of its title.”


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Published in April 2019, Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well is available for £10.99 from Amazon. The book is also available in all quality bookstores and online retailers. For more information on Satish Kumar and Resurgence magazine (now called Resurgence & Ecologist) visit www.resurgence.org

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