There is a concept, an observation, on the yogic path known in Sanskrit as Aparigraha. Non-possessiveness. Non-Hoarding. Not having, wanting, or taking more than you need.
Aparigraha is one of the yamas or personal observations that a yogi studies on the path to enlightenment.
As an American, I find this concept particularly challenging. Our culture resonates with the need to possess. Things, money, stuff, Jobs, titles, careers, even people.
I’ve been fascinated with this yama for a few years. I’ve been a clinger, a hoarder, possessive. Tangible items, people in my life, habits, memories.
I’ve been Stuck. (yes, capital “S”)
I wanted to find a way to release, purge, simplify. Be free.
Long before I knew that the universe answered you if you asked for something, I asked for assistance – help me learn to release. Aparigraha was brought to me as a concept the very next day in the form of a brief little article about clearing clutter.
so began my quest to learn more.
Most articles, postings, musing, and studies about apraigraha speak about learning to not want, not covet, not take. Another subset speaks to the concept of clinging, hoarding. Being an avid researcher of new ways to streamline, make efficient and organize, this is prevalent in a lot of what I read and study.
But another perspective keeps coming up in my studies and it’s an important one for me this week.
One post in particular references work by Rolf Gates. In his works, Gates provides another perspective:
“I am not a hoarder, I am a nonrelinquisher. I don’t want to grieve the loss of anything. Aparigraha is an opportunity to learn how to say good-bye.” *
We often don’t say goodbye when we should. To things that have no further use in our lives, to habits that don’t serve us, to people who no longer generate positive energy or for whom we are longer generating positive energy.
What I have seen in my own life is that this inability to walk away when we should is based in fear.
Fear that we may not have that item, that object, again. Whether that object is a tangible good, money/finance, creature comforts, a secure job, love.
Once we’ve discovered something that we didn’t have before we seem to develop this want. This coveting. This need to keep and hoard. With tangible goods we see accumulation. With jobs we see the devotion of hours at the exclusion of all else. And in love we see a relinquishing of self. All out of fear that we might lose that object if we don’t do these things.
Fear is a hardwired and valuable emotion. Designed to warn us of danger. But over the eons, we have evolved our sense of what is actually dangerous. This often includes basically any other emotion. Most especially love.
When we enter into a new relationship, whether a new friendship, romantic interest, work buddy, we put energy into it. It’s new and fresh and shiny. We want to explore and cultivate and bask in that energy. And we should. The world expands when exposed to this kind of light and radiance and energy.
But as the relationship progresses and that new relationship energy begins to wane, as it should do in the natural course of things – an ebb and flow, we start to miss those new feelings, that high. We want it back. And we fear that we will never have it again (though we’ve proven to ourselves repeatedly that we will). We start to see danger at every turn. If our work buddy goes to “our” hangout without us, our feelings are hurt. If our new friend doesn’t want to do “our” thing, our feelings are hurt. And if our romantic interest shows any excitement in another person, our feelings are hurt.
If we apply this idea of Aparigraha as the opportunity to learn how to say goodbye, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to move beyond this fear into acceptance and love. That love may be for the other person or it may be for ourselves. We may need to say goodbye to our fear, or – if our fear is founded in reality – maybe we need to say goodbye to that person.
A friend reminded me (again) today of a fear I have in my professional life. I make wonderful excuses behind which I can hide, but they are just that – excuses.
I’m certainly afraid of losing money and stuff. I worked hard to accumulate these things. All these things.
I’ve been battling with myself over the last few days about the fear of loss of love.
Our fear becomes a habit; our excuses a litany.
But saying goodbye to any of these does not diminish the effort put into them. The joy had while involved with them. And saying goodbye certainly does not cause me any harm if it is time, or past time, to say goodbye.
In fact, there is a metaphysical principle that states that you must get rid of the old to usher in the new.
That without the purge, there can be no leap forward. I don’t know about you, but I’m beyond ready for the leap forward.
The next few weeks will be fairly intense for me. I’ve come to the decision tonight that the purge must begin. I need to clear the cobwebs, grease the wheels and get my cart pointed in the direction I want to go. Only through release will my horse appear and be willing and able to pull the cart.
No more stalling, no more hiding, no more excuses. Time to move forward.
In Light & Love
*(reblogged without having asked permission from: http://truthlovebeauty.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/aparigraha-the-fifth-yama/)