अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथंतासंबोधः I
When the lack of desire to possess stuff (aparigraha) is firmly anchored (sthairye), there is a profound understanding (saṁbodhaḥ) of the how and why (kathaṁtā) of existence (janma).
PRACTICAL LIVING Last week we discussed the concept of moderation, of living a balanced life, where we enjoy through our senses, but we are aware of how much is enough and healthy. This week, Patañjali mentions the importance of not being greedy, which is intimately associated with moderation. The mind, even 2,000 years ago when this text was compiled, has the tendency to reach out for external objects in order to feel fulfilled. We all have subconscious values in respect to owning stuff in order to be happier. The more the better, is our belief. These vary from person to person. Some believe they constantly need to be studying and filling their intellect with information in order to feel they’re good enough. Others think they need multiple partners or big fancy cars. Some fill their ‘not enough’ gap with historical facts and political debates. Others with being the center of the attention and fishing for compliments constantly. None of the above are necessarily negative things for us to attain. However, if we do them greedily in order to fill a void, this is a problem and leads to suffering since no amount of property ownership, whether physical or intellectual, fills our deepest life questions. When we are not busy thinking of the next thing or idea we need to fill ourselves with, we leave space and time for reflection, for openness.
When we tap into our inner observer, that part of us that can step back and simply watch life’s dramas, we are capable of experiencing relief from the dramatic mesh we tend to live in. By playing the role of the witness, we simply watch life unfolding. We come to accept and understand that the emotions are something we have, which will always be changing and manifesting in ways that will make us feel good sometimes and not so good other times. By watching this “movie of me” as Krishna Das has referred to it, we begin to understand the nature of life.
My personal journey of conscious aparigraha began when I walked across the north of Spain in 1999 and all I carried with me was a small backpack with a couple changes of clothing. From there, I have began to notice the more subtle ways I have been grabbing for more. More studies, more traveling, more of this and that to be anywhere but here with myself now. I can honestly say that the list of questions I have is much shorter and the witnessing happens more often. There is a long way to go…but the journey that started many years ago has definitely brought some fruits with it 🙂
IN THE YOGA WORLD Mastering aparigraha (non-greed) is another way to say that someone has accomplished a sincere level of deep detachment, something that Patañjali mentioned earlier in chapter 1 as being necessary for spiritual development (see sūtra I.12). For those who are aware of the magical potential we have within, and who are no longer grabbed by the senses and its cravings, there is a sense of freedom and the desire to have more of anything, dies. This does not mean that this person needs to live in the woods with no possessions. It only means that this person has a clear understanding of the function of the body, the ego, the intellect and the soul. This comprehension is expansive and peace-FULL.
“Let’s be cautious about relying so much on material things that we have no energy left for the spiritual aspects of our lives.” James A. Forbes
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON While traveling, I am often more open and allow myself to be guided by intuition. This has brought me to magical places to experience beautiful moments and meet fascinating people. My recent trip to Maui gave me all of that. While going for a walk, I met a magnificent human being: Bruce. Long story short, he told me a lot of his life story and how he magically ended up living a life beyond his dreams: he has two amputated legs and lives in a tent on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. His TV? The humpback whales breaching in his ‘living room’ outside his tent. His means of transportation? A moped. His meal plan? One meal per day. His mantra: I’m the luckiest homeless guy! Bruce owns very little. Yet his eyes are always smiling. His gratitude for life’s magic is profound. He is open, non-judgmental and carries a love for life that inspired me to remind myself that love is inside and all around me. Thank you Bruce for the beautiful moments we had together. Until the next time amigo!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will discuss the fruits of mastering purity!