The Yamas: Aparigraha - Non-attachment

by Maarten van Huijstee

The Yamas:  Aparigraha - Non-attachment

I will reflect on the fifth and last Yama: Aparigraha. The Yamas, “the don’ts”, are considered the natural laws of Yoga and thus Aparigraha is one of the five essential restraints. 

The word Aparigraha stems from the word parigrah which means ‘to crave’, ‘to seek’ and 'to seize’ possessions. It not only means the action but also includes the intent; the attitude of craving and possessiveness. The prefix “a” means “non” so often Aparigraha is translated to no-greed or non-attachment.

On a physical or material level we can easily come to understand Aparigraha; don’t attach yourself to the stuff you have or seemingly want to have. I’m not saying it’s easy to do, because most of our economy and big parts of our society are aimed at stimulating the craving of material possessions, I’m just saying it's easy to understand. It gets interesting if you start contemplating your attachment to relationships, thoughts and emotions. 

Aren't we really attached to the thought or identity built around these possesions? Isn't it only a collective idea that with more possessions, we gain more status and relationships? 

When I started contemplating on this, one of my favourite songs, “Society” by Eddie Vedder, came to mind. This is a soundtrack of Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild”, a movie directed at showing us the insanity of our society. When reading the following lyrics please imagine the Soul or Mother Nature singing these profound words.

It's a mystery to me
We have agreed
With which we have agreed

You think you have to want
More than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed

Please also take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song, because you can actually feel the Soul shining through the vibrations of Eddie's voice. Or maybe that's just my imagination. Or both.

About Maarten van Huijstee

Maarten is first and foremost a human being and proud father to Philip and Alexander and dedicated husband to Anna. Despite his diverse career in marketing and advertising, founding a few companies, and an extensive list of chairs on numerous boards and committees, there has always been one thing Maarten’s heart has consistently been trying to tell him..