Aparigraha is such a very important limb of yoga, and the last of the five yamas or moral guidelines or codes by which to live with regard to our relationship with ourselves, and the world around us.
The precept of Aparigraha is a self-restraint (temperance) from the type of greed and avarice where one’s own material gain or happiness comes by hurting, killing or destroying other human beings, life forms or nature. Aparigraha (Sanskrit: अपरिग्रहा), which often translates as ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. The word ‘graha’ means to take, to seize, or to grab, ‘pari’ means ‘on all sides’, and the prefix ‘a’ negates the word itself – basically, it means ‘non’. This important moral guideline teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right. Have we forgotten that this is yoga?
I feel this is such an important part of not only the path of yoga, but if more of us applied and practiced Aparigraha in all aspects of our lives, there would be less suffering and less greed, which is an unfortunate driving force in our world and very much so in our culture. Yes, even our *yoga culture*, and the desire for MORE only leads to MORE suffering. And I am not saying that making a decent living, which is really difficult for most yoga teachers is the wrong path. Not at all!
I keep recalling something my very first yoga teacher said in class one time. “In our culture, we are conditioned to complicate our lives. We are conditioned think we want more.This complicates things. Think about it. We fill our lives with more stuff, more money, more cars, objects, things and then we want better stuff.” Or something along those lines, and I will never forget it. He also went on about how he will never try to *sell* yoga crud to us or to anyone. He is also really funny. This teacher still owns this one small, local yoga studio in Los Angeles. This same studio that also encouraged me to teach after many years of dedicated practice. And not by selling their brand or their brand of yoga teacher training to me, but by referring me to another teacher, a neighbor of theirs, who they felt I would connect with and best learn from. This teacher was my first yoga role model. The teacher they sent me to train with I respect more than I can possibly explain. They both taught me to see clearly on this path. They taught me yoga.
I am at a point where yoga culture and the the business of yoga here in the west is continuing to shake me up and turn me off. The desire for more, more, more is a sickness and goes against the very teachings of yoga. Competition is rampant and fear based. Control, distrust etc. all fear. Good people are being treated like throw away employees by those with money. And sometimes these people own yoga studios. It’s heartbreaking and follows the pattern of social conditioning that needs to be broken in order to be healed. We all need to be healed.
Yoga is Community. Not separate communities, studios or even teachers working against one another, in competition of one another. That is the reverse, in opposition and a complete misunderstanding of the whole damn thing in the first place.
We ALL are deserving of abundance, success and Love. Every last one of us.
Greed is the undoing of humanity and will be the end lesson.
I write this because I am experiencing this in my community. A community that claims to be about connection, relationship and love. Let’s stop talking the talk and start walking the damn yoga walk.
With Unwavering Love and a Sometimes Wavering Belief in Goodness,