The cares and pleasures of this life choke and destroy the seed of the kingdom, and quite hinder all progress in the hidden and divine life.
– William Penn,
No Cross, No Crown, 1682
The testimony of simplicity—of detachment from possessions and worldly aspirations—arose from Friends’ conviction that simplicity would enable us to grow in communion with God and to discern God’s will for us.
When we open ourselves to God, we want to unclutter our lives, to free ourselves from dependence on our possessions and self-indulgences, or from encumbering details and self-appointed tasks and activities that consume and distract us. We endeavor to live free from the potential dangers involved in the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; the practice of gambling; and excessive eating. We realize the tragic results of these practices, not only to the practitioner, but to family, friends, and others. Social custom often makes it difficult or embarrassing to decline to use or to serve intoxicants, and we may help others by our example of standing clear from the use of these substances. Simplicity releases us from that which drains and depletes us, and redirects our energy toward God.
Simplicity clears the springs of life and permits wholesome mirth and gladness to bubble up; it cleans the windows of life and lets joy radiate.
- Philadelphia Yearly Meeting,
Faith and Practice, 1955