APARIGRAHA

Lao Tzu quote be content

APARIGRAHA~NONPOSSESSIVENESS

Aparigraha which means nonpossessiveness, can also be interpreted as nonattachment, nongreed, nonclinging, nongrasping, nonacqisitiveness, non hoarding, and noncoveting. It can pretty much be summed up as “letting go”. It applies to our attachments to material objects, people, our bodies, and our thoughts.

The fewer the attachments we carry with us, the more we are free to enjoy and engage and live every moment before us to the fullest. Just like the more breath we let go of, the more room there is our body for the fullness of the next inhalation. The more we generously share and give away, the more expansive and light we become. Pay attention to your breath. Let the simple act of inhaling and exhaling teach you about the fullness of breathing in life without the need to hold on to it. What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come? It is when we get too attached to something we can no longer receive the enjoyment or nourishment. Like the breath, when it is held too long, it becomes toxic. The journey of life is towards freedom. A bird cannot hold its perch and fly. Neither can we grasp anything and be free.

The nature of the realm of Aparigraha is impermanence. Everything changes. Watching the breath teaches us the transience of all things. Our ego feeds on grasping and constructs our identity and can hold us hostage to our belongings. As we accumulate material goods, fame, fortune, and so on, our ego becomes stronger. When we realize how this superficial identification of ourselves is based on outer quantities instead of inner qualities, it is time to turn inward. Everything is always changing and invites us to change too. This means to learn and to grow and to flow with life. It invites us to let go of controlling what we can’t control and to turn inward to connect to our true nature, our true self and realize we already have everything we need right now. Just like the U2 lyrics from the song Beautiful day: What you don’t have you don’t need it now.

The sadhus of India recognize how easy it is to become attached to things of this world so they take vows of renunciation. But what about the rest of us who live in the world with all of its excess. For those of us who choose to stay immersed in the world, loving and living fully without becoming attached is not an easy thing.

Krishna Das said to practice with the little things so we are prepared when the bigger things come along. Notice when you cling to experiences, emotions, thoughts, habits, and beliefs. Then practice letting go. Even coming back to the breath and making a sigh breathe, completely exhaling, is practicing letting go.

Our expectations keep us captive and often disgruntled, and yet we choose our attachments rather than our freedom. Anything we cling to creates a maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because their “free.” All take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Subtle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring us.

The word attachment can be traced to a root word that means “to nail”. Attachments are like nailing ourselves to our need for someone or something to continue to be the same and to always be there for us in the same way. Aparigraha invites us to let go and to pack lightly for our journey though life and to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come.

Nonattachment does not mean that we don’t care or that we somehow shut ourselves off from the pleasures and joy of life and each other. In fact, nonattachment frees us up to be immersed in appreciation of life and one another. We are asked to let go of the clinging to the thing, not the enjoyment of the thing itself. Life is a banquet and we are free to feast. Like the breath, we are invited to breathe in deeply, enjoying the fullness of the inhalation, and then to let go just as deeply and enjoying the release of the exhale.

Aparigraha invites us to not be greedy with the earth’s resources. The “shop till you drop” attitude feeds our bottomless desire to acquire. We are bombarded with advertisements pushing us to buy stuff that we often do not need. We can rein this habit of accumulation by carefully deciding to buy only what we will really use and resist the temptation to purchase impulsively. Less using means less need to manufacture which reduces our impact on the earth and our environment. We are temporary custodians of our belongings. Do they possess us by demanding our time and energy to take care of them? Aparigraha involves letting go of attachment to our possessions and not shopping for its own sake. Many people live with so much less than we do. Releasing unused or extraneous possessions to those who need them is an act of kindness and generosity. Lightening our load also frees up time to spend in other ways, especially developing our yoga practice and cultivation a more inward orientation. And the more we experience our pure light of awareness, the less interest we will have in material possessions.

As Micheal Stone says in his book “Yoga for a World our of Balalnce”: Even though society often tells us that success in life is to look a certain way, to have money and to be economically production, there are many forms of work that are just as important as making money. Taking care of parents is a form of success; being a good parent is a form of success; simply being kind to others is a form of success. These deeper forms of success are too often forgotten in consumer culture, ad nth effects on families and communities have disastrous. Consumerism and greed have led many people to find more value in life in material things than friendships and family and community. We don’t have to continue in this momentum. The past nourishes or constrain us and the future calls us. Every action we take in the present is an actualization of the future. Can we enjoy some consumer comfort without lapsing into greed? Can we become not just economic leaders but moral leaders? Can we be servants of servants? I

“Love is what is left when you’ve let go of all the things you love”~Swami Jnaneshvara

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“What we try to posses, possesses us” ~ Deborah Adele

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