Today I will write about money again. Even if Aparigraha (non-greed) is not only about money.
Some say that money is the greatest evil of today’s world, and I used to think so myself. There was a period in my life when I was seriously considering different ways to live a life without money, because I believed I couldn’t be free if I was depending on money. I was actually right, but running away from it wouldn’t set me free – changing my relationship with money would.
Thinking about the fifth Yama – Aparigraha, I realized money is not a problem of this world – greed is. It’s true, a lot of bad people, organizations and companies with a lot of money are doing a lot of bad things to this planet, to the people, to the animals. But it’s only because they want to have even more – and no matter how much they have, they will still want more. Because of greed, possesiveness, attachment. Patanjali suggests that greed and coveting material wealth increases greed and possessiveness, a cycle that distracts from good reasons for activity that should motivate a person, and ultimately to a state where a person seeks material wealth without effort and by harming, hurting or impoverishing someone else, or some living creature. The brutal treatment of animals in the meat, dairy, egg, fashion and cosmetic industry, treating living beings as worthless things, exploiting people, animals, children, all the killing and the destroying of the planet – are just some of the consequences of that greed.
Aparigraha translates to ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’, and refers to keeping the desire for possessions to what is necessary or important, depending on one’s life stage and context. It also allies with ideas that inspire environmental and ecological sustainability. Aparigraha suggests the reduction of waste and adds a spiritual dimension to preventing destructive consumption of ecosystems and nature. Aparigraha teaches us to not be so concerned with the outcome of a situation, but with what we’re actually doing right now as we work towards that outcome. Or as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction’.
And we are back to what I’m constantly repeating at my yoga classes: being truly present in the here and now – saves all problems! 😉