Yoga Ethics 5, APARIGRAHA, noncovetousness

posted in: Poetry, Sutra, Yamas & Niyamas | 0
Form and Meaning Arises (carolyn grady photo)

One who perseveres on the path of noncovetousness gains deep understanding of the meaning of life. (trans. B. Bouanchaud)

I DO pray for aparigraha to blossom in my life like a spiritual flower showering me with the clarity and buoyancy of a saint. This yama, suggests I relinquish that which I hold onto. I need to lessen my grip. It’s a manner of looking at the world, myself, my relationships, and of course, my STUFF.

This late December season which holds my birthday as well as the Christmas potlatch does tend to stoke the fire of WANTING. This wanting always throws me off a bit because I’m usually  contented with life and feel the need to GET RID of stuff in life-simplifying gestures.

As I grow older, less becomes critically important for me to own/do.  The years teach me what I can do without.  When Mike’s grandmother was in her nineties, she used to tell us “less is best.”  The year we lived in a small apartment in Bombay taught the whole family how little we could live on/with—and still have a happy life. It was a blessing that I didn’t always appreciate. After I returned to the States,my life in India took on a special radiance that I slowly realized came from simplicity and a lessening of the grip STUFF has on me. This awareness also grew from a growing sense of the riches present in my life, a sense of overflowing abundance.

Nischala Joy Devi ( The Secret Power of Yoga) discusses Aparigraha in terms of “awareness of abundance, and fulfillment.”  By meditating on abundance, noncovetousness naturally disappears. When practicing lovingkindness or metta meditation, I add abundance to the fourth line of the mantra: May I live in ease and abundance. It’s part of the process of evolving away from my poverty mentality.

A poem from my collection Barefoot & Upside Down:

the crumbling bark café

beneath an overcast sky

I lean against a tamarack

and spy the red-shouldered

hawk’s eyes on me

there is nowhere to hide

from her keen sight

we both keep still and watch and breathe

eventually her mate circles and cries

I feel so big and my body

growing earthen

overhead the clouds fly like planes

two red-breasted nuthatches in a dead jack pine

poke their beaks in decaying wood

it’s lunch at the crumbling bark café

I imbibe the tender wind

the moist air

splash in the ditch singing in overflow mode

wonder if I’ll see the garter snakes this year

a ball of glorious reptilian copulation

surprised me once before

seeking the specials du jour

I find a young sapsucker

tapping holes on a cottonwood bole

a chestnut-sided warbler intently feeding

in the old sap wells where insects

swarm to sugar

and a female oriole

so sophisticated  in yellow and black

explores hole to hole along a horizontal ring

slipping her slit tongue again and again

my belly growls

why do I never have enough?


Bernard Bouanchaud takes us deep into the heart of this Yama: ” When the mind no longer worries about acquiring and keeping goods, we understand where we come from, where we are, and where we are going. We discover the meaning of existence….”

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