How freeing it is – not being greedy, not clinging – to things, to people, to possessions.
Among the yamas, Patanjali’s five abstentions, we come to the last one, to Aparigraha. In one sense, this final admonition is so valuable in the world of the “material girl”. We wonder how to go about letting go of “all our stuff” – thoughts, bottles of water, more than one winter coat, the compost of life that gets in our way when we want to loosen up in our relationships to other people and to the world around us. To be free of the pursuit of things, with time for the pursuit of meanings.
Patanjali says (II:30) that not being greedy, not hoarding, is about our capacity to use things in the proper way. But he goes on to say that Aparigraha is not accepting gifts. Hmmmm. What does that mean?Satchidananda suggests that accepting gifts creates an atmosphere of obligation . Think House of Cards, think political swapping, think payola.
Donna Farhi suggests that we hold onto material things to reinforce a sense of identity: an executive ego with foot soldiers called the right clothes, the better house, the impressive car, the job, the image required to maintain an illusion of power. Begin a practise of not grasping, withdrawing our hand to reach for material things, she says, and eventually the need to reach outward is diminished until there is recognition :
That which is essential to us is already at hand.
February 11, 2015 at 8:10 PM
Thank you for sharing this interpretation of Aparigraha! I feel that this yama resonates with me deeply. Both of my parents recently passed away (I was in my early 20’s) and while I did not inherit money or property or cars I did inherit lifetimes of STUFF. Sorting through these things, I began to feel heavy and weighed down. The desire to accumulate things all but shriveled up inside of me. If I cannot eat it, wear it, use it, or share it- I do not keep it. I have learned that what I ‘need’ is not a thing, but rather a feeling, a connection, or meaning.
Thank you again for such a beautiful post.
March 24, 2015 at 2:26 PM
Did you get an alert about the kichardi blog?
October 17, 2016 at 8:37 PM
Hello, thank you for your post and thanks very much for this beautiful picture. I tried several times to find out the artist of this statue. The name of this picture is Square in Solefino. There is only a name of a city called “Solevino” but there is no statue like this. I think it might be a mistake. Please can you tell me where did you do the picture, in which city, so I can find out the artist. I really like it and I would love to have a offical picture of it where I can see the whole statue. Thank you very much & Namaste
October 18, 2016 at 4:55 AM
OK. I found the note that I took this photo on September 27, 2012, while I was in Florence. Do you know Florence? We went up that big hill from where you can look down and see the entire city. Up on top of that hill is like a little village of its own with a square. So i think that Solefino is like a suburb of Florence. I may be able to track it down more carefully in another day or so and will let you know. Thank you for reading and asking.