Aparigraha – Embracing Non-Possessiveness

Embracing Aparigraha – Letting Go of Greed

The final Yama, Aparigraha, encourages us to practice “non-greed,” to release the tight grip of possessiveness in our lives. In Sanskrit, adding an “a” before a word turns it into its opposite, and “Parigraha” means “to crave” or “to seize.” Aparigraha, then, is about resisting the urge to constantly seek material possessions and breaking free from the chains of greed.

While it’s commonly preached that spiritual seekers should renounce all possessions, the practical aspect of suppressing desires often leads to their eventual eruption, consuming us. The key, rather, is discernment. Instead of forcefully pushing desires away, it involves understanding that our genuine desires might not be what we initially think. Merely avoiding the purchase of an expensive item doesn’t eliminate the desire; it merely buries it in the subconscious.

True practice of Aparigraha requires discernment. It’s a journey of unraveling desires, not suppressing them. Meditation alone might not be sufficient; direct pointers and insights are essential to guide our intellect toward understanding the nature of our desires.

It’s acceptable to acknowledge and live with desires for materialism. Build a business, pursue a dream job, acquire possessions, and indulge in life’s experiences. If, despite your efforts, you realize that material pursuits can’t bring lasting fulfillment or end suffering, that’s when the shift towards spiritual life becomes meaningful.

The mirage of material possessions is compared to a cycle of addiction. Acquiring new things might offer temporary joy, but it fades, leaving behind a craving for something new. This cycle, like a drug, reinforces negative patterns in the brain, creating a dependence on material possessions for happiness.

However, the message is not about rejecting ownership altogether. You’re encouraged to live a comfortable life but to awaken from the materialistic trap of pursuing unnecessary pleasures. The question posed is, “Why do I want what I want?” Delving deep into the root of desires often reveals a quest for happiness and completeness.

Whether it’s a loving partner, a flashy car, or professional success, the underlying desire is to fill a perceived void and achieve a sense of completeness. True spirituality aims to end this sense of lack by recognizing that we are everything, and to be everything, we must let go of being a separate “I.”

Understanding that the ultimate goal is perpetual happiness, bliss, and contentment shifts the focus from material pursuits to the pursuit of one’s true nature. The realization dawns that the intermediary of material possessions is a poor means of achieving happiness. The formula is simple: desires lead to restlessness, while desirelessness leads to peacefulness.

What you really want is the end of all desires—the desirelessness that comes with realizing your true blissful nature.
Desires = restlessness.
Desireless = peacefulness.

“God is absolute bliss.”
-Atharva Veda

The mind plays a crucial role in assigning value and meaning to everything we perceive. Objects, in themselves, are empty; their significance comes from the interpretations our minds apply. An example illustrates that it’s not the object but the meaning and value we attach to it that make it important.

As we navigate through our daily lives, we’re encouraged to recognize the emptiness of things, especially those we feel attached to. Pursuing happiness and fulfillment through materiality is revealed to be an aimless and nonsensical obsession.

The prevailing culture often distorts our perception of the world, making us overlook the true value of essential elements like water and, more importantly, our own consciousness. Aparigraha prompts us to appreciate and not take for granted the profound value of our own awareness.

In conclusion, practicing Aparigraha involves a shift in perspective, recognizing that true happiness lies in desirelessness and understanding that material possessions are inadequate intermediaries for genuine fulfillment. It’s an invitation to live a life of discernment, breaking free from the shackles of greed and finding true contentment within.