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Aparigraha
The Yama of More

There's a bumper sticker that reads, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." The sentiment is only mildly amusing at best, especially since it's dripping with Maya. And the implications behind it hit home hardest to those of us who live in the Western World - we are practically born and bred to acquire stuff. More clothes, more accessories to go with the clothes, televisions, cell phones, video games, appliances, furniture, trinkets, better cars, bigger homes, anything digital... it seems like we devote most of our lives to obtaining illusory baubles. Once the initial pleasure of ownership passes (that takes about three and a half seconds), more often than not there's a strange empty feeling. And there should be - we are completely missing the point of living.

(Article continued below.)

The eightfold path of Yoga includes the Yamas, or abstinences. Along with the Niyamas, or observances, they make up some suggestions for living. Even if Yoga is just a physical exercise for you, these suggestions are worth looking into. One Yama is Aparigraha, or non-greed. Greed is a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface. Greed means taking more than you need or deserve. It also means hoarding. It means refusing to let go of something when it's time to do so. And it means taking second or third helpings of dessert, too! Aparigraha has a lot of different dimensions.

If you have a comfortable existence, you probably practice greed in one form or another every day. Just look around your house - is it cluttered up with a lot of useless things? What about that treadmill shunted off in the far end of your bedroom? How many nifty electronic devices do you have that were fun when you got them but that you never use anymore? Look in your closet - how many of those clothes do you really need? What did you pay for that stylish outfit that you never even wore? How about your refrigerator - how many of these leftovers are going to wind up in the trash or garbage disposal? Did you buy your SUV because it made sense for your lifestyle, or because everyone else had one? Are you trying to outdo or impress someone with your many possessions? And, by the way, just how much do you bend the rules at tax time (this is also a matter of Satya, the Yama of truthfulness)? These are harsh questions, and it's very hard to be honest, even in the privacy of your own mind.

Next page >> Letting Go for the Less Affluent >> Page 1, 2

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