Aparigraha is the fifth and last of the five yamas in the 8 limbs of yoga. It means non-greed, non-possessiveness and/or non-attachment. The essence of this yama is to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and let go when the time is right.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says ‘Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruit of action. Do not let the result of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction’.
If we do things because they are the right things to do, the outcome does not really matter.
The second book of the Yoga Sutras, sutra no. 39 states:
“When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one’s birth comes.”
Greed and gathering of things you do not really need reinforces the feeling that life is not already complete. This is also about receiving gifts. Often when you receive a gift, it comes with an underlying expectation that ‘since you received it, you can do something for me’. By receiving gifts, we often bind ourselves and lose our neutrality. If, on the other hand, we are strong enough to withstand the “obligation” we can receive gifts. This obligation can often be very subtle and difficult to detect. As we have seen in the other Yamas, it is not just about the materialistic things, but it could also be about our behaviour. We can be greedy for attention, affirmation, love, compassion etc. If we dont find fulfilment within ourselves we will start looking outwards, and since this will only give us temporary effects, we become greedy for more.
The vast majority of us have much more than we need. We keep things longer than we need, and we collect more than we need. There are several reasons why we have things we do not need. Some things have sentimental value, other things remind us of something from our past, other things we have not used in 20 years, but it could be that some time in the future, we would need them again, or maybe it’s just nice to have.