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
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….”