ABUNDANCE AND SIMPLICITY – APARIGRAHA
The meanings of parigraha in Sanskrit include taking, accepting, receiving, getting, attaining, acquisition and possession. Just as with a-himsa, the “a” before parigraha negates its meaning, so that aparigraha means not to accept, to renounce. We live in a world offering constant stimuli to all our senses. Moreover, the major economic systems are engineered based on consumerism, so there is relentless pressure to keep upgrading all kinds of products and experiences. It seems like the mandate of the economy is parigraha. Aparigraha is an invitation to live with simplicity. Taking, getting, acquiring and possessing are actions that demand a good amount of energy. In addition, whatever you “own” requires maintenance. With less to keep track of, you have more energy available to invest in life affirming endeavors.
It might be helpful to realize that there is abundance in life. If you doubt this, try to grow a garden. Soon enough you will find that plants will thrive despite neglect and that many volunteer plants, including “weeds,” will grow if allowed the minimum appropriate conditions. In fact, have you ever seen a wild plant growing in a small crevice in the concrete some place in the city? Moreover, the fact that you are alive is a testimony that at every point in your life, whatever you needed to continue moving forward was within your reach. However, recognizing abundance is not permission to waste. By recognizing that you live in a life-supportive world, you can choose to live with simplicity trusting that what you need will be within your reach as you need it. Some useful questions include, do I really need this? How much do I really need? Is this something I need or something I want? To what extent does what I have contribute to enhance the quality of my life? What level of maintenance do my possessions require? Do I own what I have or does what I have own me? To what extent am I cultivating simplicity in my life? One mantra you can use for aparigraha is, I AM COMPLETE.
Bringing the wisdom of the yamas into your life requires you to look for evidence that what you are doing is what you intend to do, and that what you are doing has the desired effects. A simple way to check if your practice of the yamas is working is by asking yourself: “Am I noticing less strain, less complaining and perhaps a little bit more harmony within me?” Other useful questions include: Is my mind less fettered by restricting misconceptions? Additionally, you can assess the effectiveness of your practice by noticing if you are honoring and appreciating the interdependent nature of life in all forms and manifestations.
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
2.30 ahiṃsāsatyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahāḥ yamāḥ
अहिंसासत्यास्तेय ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहाः यमाः ॥३०॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually: