Aparigraha: non-attachment

AparigrahaAbout 2000 years ago, the Sage Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras; an exposition of the system of Raja Yoga. In this text he outlines eight steps, like the rungs on a ladder, each of which prepares us for transition to the next rung, and each of which prepares us progressively for an experience of enlightenment.

The Yamas are the name given to the first rung on this ladder. It consists of five ethical principles according to which we should live our lives. The last of these yamas is called Aparigraha and it is Aparigraha that is the focal point for this blog.

What is Aparigraha?

There are many ways that Aparigraha can be translated:

  • non-attachment,
  • non-covetousness,
  • non-possessiveness,
  • non-greediness.

It is the commitment we make to take only what we need, realising that the desire to hoard comes from a feeling of lack or separateness within us. We seek material wealth to mask a feeling of spiritual bankruptcy. But, perhaps, when we really pay attention we realise that the stuff we accumulate suffocates us, it makes us feel heavy, both physically and energetically.

There are also other ways we can interpret Aparigraha. For example, not accepting praise, credit or payment for work that is not ours. And perhaps more interestingly, by considering our tendency to hoard less tangible things like memories, emotions and other peoples’ time and energy.

What if, instead, we only took what we needed and let go when the time was right?

One of the key teachings of yoga is that everything in our lives (including our very selves) is in process. The desire to hoard can thus be seen as an attempt to deny this reality. Our emotions (the good and the bad) are passengers in our day, passing through but rarely hanging around. So too our thoughts, so too our life circumstances, so too this very life.

Rather than attaching, think instead of the feeling of freedom we might access when we accept the nature of reality and play at riding the wave, one moment at a time.

Shades of Yoga is a yoga teacher training company running year-round yoga teacher training programs in Bali and Costa Rica.