Productivity is not a virtue. Output is not merit. Yet humanity worships them. Government, industry, and even corporatized religion idolize and bow down to them. But productivity is not a virtue, neither is it biblical. What is biblical is fruitfulness: born of the Spirit, not produced by the flesh.
When governments, industry, and religions worship productivity, they are effectively saying that productivity is their saviour that will bring them to their promised land. But productivity is a counterfeit god, a false saviour. It is an illegitimate king whose kingdom is predatory neoliberal capitalism. Its mission and purpose is profit; its effect on workers is overwork and competitive scrambling for scraps; its outcome for humanity is alienation and destruction.
Prophets of productivity impose upon all and sundry the prod and rod of what they euphemise as “performance appraisal.” It is nothing but a productivity inquisition designed to quash dissent and coerce submission. An ethical morass. A poisoned chalice.
In contrast, minimalism embraces slow-ness and mindfulness that challenge the cult of speed. The mantra of minimalism “less is more” bears resonance with ancient ideas of non-greediness (aparigraha) in Yoga, contentment (santutthi) and guarding the sense doors (indriya-samvara) in the Dhamma. Mindfulness (sati) and clear comprehension (sampajjana) are factors that seem to play a role here too. It bears the mark of living by the Spirit rather than indulging in the flesh, offering a deeper lasting happiness beyond sensory hedonism. Minimalism can be thus a social counterpoint to the culture of consumerist capitalism and challenge to the cult of busyness and mindless productivity.
Beyond things, minimalism can pertain to what we do and how we do what we do: slow, mindful, unhurried, serene, graceful, quiet and ordinary, without pomp and fanfare. Solitary and silent, or communal and loving: all imbued with spirit and meaning born of illumination. In that stillness and silence, coming face to face with one's bare soul, an awakening and conviction beyond all expectation can turn one's world upside down. Ensconced in that upside-down kingdom of life, true freedom and fruitfulness of creative living dawns.