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5 Minute Philosophy Break: The Yamas Part 5: Aparigraha

5 Minute Philosophy Break: The Yamas Part 5: Aparigraha

Welcome to the fifth post in our series on the yamas.  Today we’ll be looking at the last of the five yamas – aparigraha (non-greed, non-attachment, non-clinging)

Aparigraha often translates into non greed, or non-attachment, but I think “non-clinging” helps us get a better handle on the teaching.   

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you”

-Ali Ibn Abi Talib

I think this quote is the heart of aparigraha.  It’s not that money or material things are inherently bad. But the more we chase after shiny objects, the less time we have to cultivate real relationships with ourselves and others.  We have less time for play and creativity; less time for Self discovery and spiritual growth, until at some point accumulating and maintaining stuff takes ownership over our time and energy. 

So just like the 4th yama, brahmacarya, one of the central questions of aparigraha is “Where are you focusing your time and attention?”  If you haven’t already watched the previous video on the Brahmacarya (conservation of vital energy), please do so you can see how the teachings of the yamas interconnect and overlap. In fact there’s a common thread running through all the yamas, and all of the 8 limbs of yoga.

And that is the question – Who am I? Please watch the video for a short but powerful meditation on this question 🙂

So the teaching of aparigraha is to have fun, to play, to fall in love, to allow ourselves to enjoy things and experiences that feel joyful and beautiful. But to hold these things with an open palm, not clinging, but knowing that all things in this material world are constantly shifting and changing and dissolving like clouds.  Just temporary.

True, lasting happiness and peace, can only come by cultivating a relationship with our true Self – that which is unchanging, eternal, endlessly creative, playful, and whole/complete.


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