This month our focus moves to the 5th Yama: Aparigraha. The Yamas are Patanjali’s ethical codes on how to treat others.

Sutra II.39:

A) When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one’s birth comes

B) When one becomes selfless and ceases to take more than one needs, one obtains knowledge of why one was born

C) When refrainment from covetousness becomes firmly established, knowledge of the whys and wherefores of birth manifests.

Aparigraha is the non-accumulation of things. It encourages us to consider our possessions, desires, and needs. “The more we have, the more we need to take care of it. The time and energy spent on acquiring more things, protecting them, and worrying about them cannot be spent on the basic questions of life.” – TKV Desikachar
Patanjali recommends that yogis should live a simple life based in moderation, rather than excessive consumption. As a whole, in society, we have consumed far more than we need. We often identify with what we have, need, and want. By practicing aparigraha, and being free of desire, we can then direct all of the extra energy accumulated towards sadhana (spiritual practice). This practice enables the mind to become calm and clear, by being free of desires and obligations. Patanjali says that those who become established in aparigraha will come to have a deeper understanding of the karmic cycle and the connection between cause and effect will be revealed.

Aparigraha is also about living with generosity of spirit and action, giving without expecting something in return. It is giving just for the sake of giving.

Practice this Month:

1. Clean the house. Find what no longer serves you.

2. How can I volunteer my time simply for the act of giving without “wanting” something in return?

3. Notice when you say “I need” and ask if it is really something that you need or just another desire.