Aparigraha: 5th Yama of yoga, translates to non-greed or non-attachment, is one of the Yamas in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga.
You can follow these yamas as a moral guidelines. As a yoga practitioner, you are advised to integrate them with your way of living… Because these guidelines are pivotal to define your relationships with others and yourself!
Aparigraha= A + Pari + Graha
- The word Pari is synonyms to the peripheral or on ‘all the sides’, and
- Graha stands for: to take, to accept, to grab, or to seize.
- Suffix ‘A’ is used to negate the word itself in Sanskrit and Hindi both languages.
In material sense, aparigraha is highly related to the non-possessiveness of the things which ‘you don’t need now’ and not to keep ‘what serves not’ at this moment.
In a subtle sense, “letting go” is all you need to follow aparigraha in your life.
Mahrshi Patanjali’s 5 Yamas
Before diving deeper, let’s have a look at the entire set of the Patanjali’s Yamas:
- Ahimsa: Non-violence
- Satya : Truthfulness
- Ashteya: Not-stealing
- Brahmacharya: Celibacy
- Aparigraha. : Non-attachment
So, What Is Non-attachment
Non-attachment is a term often bandied around in Buddhist and Yoga circles. I often feel it’s
somewhat misinterpreted by many and can be quite confusing. So I thought to aim for casting a
bit of light and so maybe help serious folk endeavouring to engage and so get proper benefit from this all important concept.
Gautama Buddha’s famous saying that the state of nirvana is non attachment to “attractions, aversions and delusions” are key.
Many folk take aparigraha along with the idea of “Maya”, to become generally aloof and disinterested in life.
Aparigraha Vs Maya
Along with that there’s a close danger of not taking proper responsibility for ourselves and the situation.
Perhaps it’s good to remember that an illusion (Maya) is a case of mistaken identity.
We see a big white bird in a tree on a windy day getting ready to fly off.
As we come closer we see it’s actually a white plastic bag flapping in the breeze!
Similarly, Aparigraha (non-attachment) is taken to mean that we need to rid ourselves of desires in order to attain “equanimity (samata)”.
The Buddha also said that of the four sublime states, equanimity is the only one that can lead us through to nirvana.
So non-attachment, equanimity and a correct interpretation of Maya is
Desires Too, Have Great Significance In Our Lives
Without desire, nothing would ever happen and life would be a colorless, dull, meaningless state where we simply exist from day to day, probably wishing it to end soon. So we really cannot throw out desires, hopes and deep longings.
Indeed emotion is exactly what the term says –
the energy for motion
So an aspect of that key is to mindfully employ desires and emotion to move and get things done and to live a full, joyous life.
On the other hand, to become hooked and dependent upon the desires and emotions is what leads us to suffering and delusions.
What Is Equanimity
Equanimity is the condition of maintaining balance in all situations
That does not mean we’ll never get angry or elated again, rather we’re not identifying with our emotions and so can maintain some ‘space’.
To authentically pull that off, we have to have non-attachment as an underlying and governing principle.
So Aparigraha can be said to be the disentangling and dissolving of grasping and clinging from the physical, emotional and even mental events and experiences of life.
There are many aspects to discuss on the topic, however if we can take this first step and really work with it daily in contemplative meditation, it will take us a long way indeed into the spiritual journey of liberation.
One thing to close off, without a high degree of mindfulness during all activities of our lives, it’s going to be extremely difficult if not impossible to straighten out the idea of non attachment in clarity and order.
Idea Of Detachment
The idea of ‘Detachment’ has a slightly different meaning to non-attachment, so perhaps we can look into that.
Mindfulness, equanimity and a non-delusional view of samsara (the apparent reality we are all so familiar with) are superb tools to leverage on our spiritual path. When applied correctly and practised diligently, they gradually begin to render in our general day to day consciousness, a sense of detachment. This operates physically, mentally and emotionally.
Detachment is not to be confused with aloofness and disinterest.
As said previously, we are fully engaged, fully responsible and living life to the fullest, yet maintaining the condition of non-attachment.
This has been superbly said:
we’re in the world, but not of the world
Our inner observer has taken on an all important role as we gain the opportunity to continually drag ourselves out of immersion and engrossment in the outer reality and likewise, the inner whirlpools of internal dialogue and emotional swings.
A high level of detachment combined with deep equanimity and a new and appropriate use for our attention, results in the alignment of the important spiritual qualities and is a vital element in our emancipation from the CHURNING OF SAMSARIC WHEEL.
Regarding those attributes of the spirit, practitioners that attain very high degrees of authentic detachment, find that they experience higher levels of direct knowledge arising from the heart, sometimes called insight.
This occurs naturally as we become more unplugged from the common, analytical daily mind and more tuned in to other layers of our intrinsic being that become obscured as we sleep ever deeper into the common daily programming.
Furthermore, deep concentration and meditation practice becomes easier, following that one has gained greater control of how we use our attention.
This means that if we so choose, now having greater detachment and discipline, we will not be continually pulled into every breeze or wind that comes along. Genuine samadhi becomes doable instead of a mystical, unattainable state reserved for the privileged few.
Wrapping Up- Aparigraha : 5th Yama Of Yoga
I dig much deeper into the whole topic of non-attachment and detachment in our Sacred spiral Teacher training programs which detail you can view on our main website.
I hope and trust this throws some light on the differences between non-attachment and detachment.
I shall continue the theme to build up a bigger picture of what our practice should be all about and where it is all leading.