In the metta sutta, the discourse on loving kindness, the Buddha teaches us how to be “skilled in goodness and know the path of peace”.
These attributes can be practiced in a number of ways including kind speech, humility and also through being frugal.
We are living at a time when prices keep going up and our income, if we are fortunate enough to have one, is not keeping up.
So, how can we live abundantly while living frugally?
Here is a list of suggestions.
1. Attitude is Everything
The way we think about things creates our reality. When we think we don’t have enough, we come from a place of scarcity. When we think we have what we need, we come from a place of abundance. We can choose which place we come from by choosing to think positively.
We may not have the latest technological toys, the biggest house, the fastest car or designer clothes, but we have abundance when we appreciate our five-year old laptop, our comfortable living space, our reliable Subaru and skill to do your own home repairs.
2. Take a Realistic Look at Our Financial Situation
If we don’t already have a budget, now is the time to create one. List what comes in and what goes out. Take a look at what is spent on wants rather than needs. Make that list of wants shorter.
3. Become Aware of What is Really Important
Think about what is really important to you. Perhaps you are saving for a college education for yourself or your children. Perhaps you are saving for a home or a car. Find ways to put money into the bank for these items that are meaningful. Each time we bring our coffee and lunch to work, we are giving up a little now to gain a lot later.
4. Meditate on What Material Things Mean to You
Take some time to sit quietly and think about what you spend money on and what those objects mean to you. Do you have high mortgage or car payments to finance because a pricey home or new car makes you feel a certain way? Do you buy rounds of drinks for your friends because you try to keep up with them even though they make more money than you do? No number of material things can increase our self-esteem — that can only be increased by intrinsic qualities like kindness.
5. Learn About Ways to Nourish Yourself Without Spending a Lot of Money
They say “the best things in life are not things”. Rather than spending money on things, spend time in natural surroundings, take a walk, and get together with friends and cook at home rather than going out to a restaurant. Read to your children or take them hiking, listen to music or create art together.
Being frugal may mean that we are giving up some material things, but it can also mean we find abundance in other ways such as spending quality time with friends and family members and finding out what is most meaningful in our lives. One of the most meaningful Buddhist scriptures I have read is the metta sutta:
The Buddha’s Words on Lovingkindness
This is what should be done
By those who are skilled in goodness,
And who know the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways,
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: in gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born—
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
Spreading upward to the skies,
And downward to the depths;
Outward and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.