Aparigraha: Don’t be Beholden
Freedom is the goal of yoga. This freedom is liberation from the bondage of egotism and desire. To be free is to be conscious and grateful for being part of the unconditional joy and brilliance of existence.
Through our interactions with others we often ensnare ourselves in unnecessary and unsatisfying obligations and expectations. This does not free us – it binds us. One of the yamas: aparigraha directly speaks to this.
One of the ways that we bind ourselves is by accepting things from others knowing that in their giving there are also expectations. They might expect certain reactions from us or expect specific things in return. Think of the politician who accepts donations knowing he will be called on to do the bidding of the donor.
At times, people do things for you with the expectation that you will do something for them. They come to your party and expect you to go to theirs. They feel a certain way and expect you to feel the same. Unconditional love and giving is a wonderful thing in life. It liberates us. Conditional love and giving ensnares us.
For this reason aparigraha can be thought of as the “non-receiving of gifts.”* Isn’t the joy and beauty of life found in giving and receiving? Yes, but not when by receiving we enter the world of expectation. In those cases it is better not to take or give but to remain out of the situation. Won’t we just end up isolated and alone in life? Far from it! By identifying unhealthy situations and circumstances you also learn to identity healthy ones. Moving into realms of pure and unconditional emotion will lift you into the blissful freedom of yogic living.
*Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda