Simple Beyond Complex

This is a blog post that has been ruminating within me for years, I remember first discovering or accepting the distinction while working at the Pentagon 16 years ago, and have been contemplating it since.   I would love to have your feedback or thoughts about it.

It starts with the idea, or the essence of an idea, that simplicity is profound.  Essentially, in Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Religion or any Human related endeavor, there exists a simple truth that ultimately encases or governs how things work within it. For example, physicists have discovered four forces that govern the Universe and they continue to pursue (and believe) that these four forces will eventually be defined by a single force.    Thus, the complexity of the universe ultimately will be described in one single and expectantly simple equation.

Taking this to a more philosophic bend, I have discovered that I am much more content and fulfilled when I eliminate most of the complexity (BS), anxiety, and distraction in my life by returning to a place of simplicity.   I am aggressively working to de-clutter, downsize, and simplify every aspect of my life (spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically).    Contemplating this appeal is the essence of this blog topic.

Christ says “anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of heaven like a child will never enter it.”

Imagine our children (not my teenagers today), but an innocent baby or toddler.   When you watch them, they are entirely caught in the moment and are present to exactly what they need or want that second. They see a ball, they grab it, play with it, chew it, throw it. They are happy and content in their very simple lives (as their needs are provided for).   They aren’t worried about the future, or stressed about past failings, they are entirely present to themselves and the immediate world around them. Frankly, life is simple, and Christ asks us to see the world like this child.

However, this simplicity is complicit with naivety and lacks appreciation or awareness of the complex challenges they are about to face as the world comes upon them. When are they going to get their next bottle, skateboard, bike, or car. How can they get what they want, and what everyone else seems to have?

Complexity enters their life. They start to take on worry, stress, anxiety and WANT. Why am I not getting enough affection? Why do they have all those great things? Why am I not as fast, strong or as powerful as him? I keep making mistakes, why am I not good enough? Essentially, my complex life puts me into the paradox of unworthiness.

This difficult transformation from from childhood to adulthood as the world goes from simple to complex creates the stories and messages that govern our lives. We create complex responses to survive and often pursue having money, recognition, achievement, and affection to overcome them. We essentially become engulfed in “the cares of this world”.

I believe, as many of us approach mid-life, we see that the drivers of our activity are irrational and fleeting. This crisis forces the recognition that life’s complexities are choking out our personal fulfillment and God-given purpose. In that place, many of us begin another painful transformation. One that may cause complete upheaval of our present circumstance. We may make job changes, lifestyle reorientation, divorce, find religion, etc. This potential transformation requires a deep reflective and often painful transition away from complexity. It is our “hero’s journey.”

Unfortunately, for many, we try to recreate and reorganize these complexities. Fill the holes and pain from one story to another.    Others aren’t willing to go as deep and dark as necessary to shed the messages, stories, or deal with open wounds that aren’t serving us anymore. We aren’t willing to peak behind the curtain and see the ridiculous levers that the wizard (let’s say ego) is using to manipulate our lives.

However, this crisis can also provide us the awareness that can return us to the simplicity and humility that Christ requests of us. By shedding our stories, our anxieties, our fleeting pursuits, we can move to one that is alive in the present; or alive in God’s presence.

I am convinced,  that this simplicity only can be found after a dangerous transition through and appreciation of the complexity of our world.    I am personally navigating this “hero’s journey” and (like the physicists)  am unifying the forces that guide my life into a few simple truths.  The belief that my happiness, purpose, and reason for being exists right before me, and can be seen in living a life of truth and simplicity.

Blessings – Pierre


6 thoughts on “Simple Beyond Complex”

  1. I have loved this concept in my design work for many years. Thank you for expanding on it so well here. Well done.

  2. “Control: To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.” Our minds are not so different from that of animals.

    The comedian Bill Hicks put it another way, “The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to
    go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. …It has thrills and
    chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud and it’s fun,
    for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they
    begin to question: “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other
    people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “Hey, don’t
    worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we kill
    those people. …We always kill the good
    guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons
    run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can
    change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no
    job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear
    and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors,
    buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as

    So maybe effort, struggle and work is not so essential as we think it is.

    1. Natar, thank you for the post. I think that the intuitive choice between, let us say struggle or acceptance (love) is probably the difference between those of us caught in the complex and those of living in the simple.

      I once did a paper on Crisis Leadership, and what was left for me was the question, can we ever change without some Crisis to demand/force/mandate change? That is the million dollar question, can we ever transform our lives without the struggle or work? One of the men in a group I support asked, why does change require “iron will?” His view of Iron will is in opposition of the ideal Simple Choice.

      I will ponder, I don’t know. Every change I’ve created in organizations or myself has fought resistance from others or resistance from within. I want the golden key to transformation without struggle. Let me know…

  3. God is Love. Love is the unifying force. Simple concept – difficult to live out in a world where God has given man the freedom to reject Him. Take God out of the prime equation and none of the secondary calculations will ever be correct. If, as Christ said, we Love God and Love our neighbor, everything after that becomes simple. That’s why I am known as the Doctor of Love.

    1. Bill – Loved the reply, thank you! As I reflected upon your thoughts, I think the bible provides the perfect case to illustrate this idea.
      1. Simple – Garden of Eden, simple perfection but not fully appreciated by man, living in God’s perfection, and unaware of challenges that come with free will. Eats from tree of knowledge of good and evil, entered into struggle…
      2. Complex – Old Testament Law, complex challenges confronting a chaotic world, provided over 600 commands by God to Jews. Very difficult struggle and journey for Jews to find alignment with God.
      3. Simple – Christ’s response in regard to Pharisees question regarding greatest commandment. He sums up Old Testament law to “Love God, Love Others”. However, without the struggle, their would be little gratitude and appreciation for God’s Mercy and Majesty and without the struggle, there would be little Faith and Humility that allows us to open to unconditional love.
      I especially liked your reference as Christ’s response as THE unifying equation (prime equation)
      Blessings to you and your family!

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