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अपरिग्रह Aparigraha

Posted by Julie Andres on Friday, February 18, 2011 Under: yamas
The fifth yama is aparigraha, non-grasping.

The impermanence of all things is a fact of life. Even so, we occupy ourselves – almost incessantly – with thoughts and actions that reflect our goals to acquire things and create conditions that we want to claim as ours. We want to have and to hold, forever and ever. Amen. So be it.
Buddhist teachings tell us that suffering – dukkha – is caused by this very human trait: clinging to the idea, the hope, of love (or whatever you want to call it) everlasting. As life carries us through its inevitable changes we grieve the loss of what was or what could have been. We create identities, as defined by our appearance, our jobs, our relationships, our places in society. But try as we may, the eternal bliss that we seek is not to be found in these outer trappings. My life so far has shown me that the things I cling to most fervently are the ones that bring the most pain.
Since I began to study yoga, I have found the ancient wisdom of the yamas (explored in these journal entries) and niyamas (yet to be explored on these pages), as well as the remaining Eight Limbs of Yoga*, to have a strong correlation to what I learned earlier in Buddhist studies. The Buddha taught that the end to suffering – the cessation of dukkha – is to be found in magga – The Eightfold Path: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
Back to yoga.
Pantajali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2 states: Yogas chitta vritti narodah – translated as ‘yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind’. Listening to my mental chatter, the most prevalent ‘fluctuations’ clearly relate to grasping. Self-aggrandizing, self-annihilating, planning, regretting, wanting … For me, and most others, too, I suspect, the practice of aparigraha first involves paying close attention to the nature of one’s thoughts.
Hey. That’s the same thing that’s come to mind when contemplating all of the yamas.
The daily sitting is becoming a recognition of the familiar. Letting it go takes such effort. But practice makes perfect, so I have learned.
A friend recently asked why people on the ferries often look back to where they had been rather than ahead to where they are going. My thought was that looking behind or ahead are the same: acts of searching for certainty. I sent him this poem, which I wrote in 1995.
Over All
before you
the glow of sunset intoxicates
your eyes drink the light,
the colours, the day’s beauty
the unfolding blossoms of promise
behind you
the beast is getting closer
hungry, angry
there's a fight
between a white cat
and a black dog
both bleeding on the earth
you have drunk
and are drunk
on what is before you
and behind there are threats
and regrets
over all
there is no before
no behind
only now
* Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi

In : yamas 

Tags: aparigraha  non-acquisitiveness  non-grasping  magga 

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