Non-attatchment is is a term often bandied around in Buddhist and Yoga circles. I often feel it's somewhat misinterpreted by many and can be quite confusing. So I thought to aim for casting a bit of light and so maybe help serious folk endeavoring to engage and so get proper benefit from this all important concept.
Gautama Buddha's famous saying that the state of nirvana is non attachment to attractions, aversions and delusions is key.
Many folk take apharigraha along with the idea of Maya, to become generally aloof and disinterested in life. Along with that there's a close danger of not taking proper responsibility for ourselves and situation.
Perhaps it's good to remember that an illusion (Maya) is a case of mistaken identity. We see a big white bird in a tree on a windy day getting ready to fly off. As we come closer we see it's actually a white plastic bag flapping in the breeze.
Similarly, Aparigraha (non-attachment) is taken to mean that we need to rid ourselves of desires in order to attain equanimity (samata)
The Buddha also said that of the four sublime states, equanimity is the only one that can lead us through to nirvana. So non-attatchment, equanimity and a correct interpretation of Maya is absolutely essential.
Without desire, nothing would ever happen and life would be a colorless, dull, meaningless state where we simply exist from day to day, probably wishing it to end soon. So we really cannot throw out desires, hopes and deep longings. Indeed emotion is exactly what the term says - the energy for motion.
So an aspect of that key is to mindfully employ desires and emotion to move and get things done and to live a full, joyous life. To become hooked and dependent upon the desires and emotions is what leads us to the suffering and delusions. Equanimity is the condition of maintaining balance in all situations. That does not mean we'll never get angry or elated again, rather we're not identifying with our emotions and so can maintain some 'space'. To authentically pull that off, we have to have non-attachment as an underlying and governing principle.
So Aparigraha can be said to be the disentangling and dissolving of grasping and clinging from the physical, emotional and even mental events and experiences of life.
There are many aspects to discuss on the topic, however if we can take this first step and really work with it daily in contemplative meditation, it will take us a long way indeed into the spiritual journey of liberation.
One thing to close off, without a high degree of mindfulness during all activities of our lives, it's going to be extremely difficult if not impossible to straighten out the idea of non attachment in clarity and order.
I hope this helps and I'll look forward to continuing next time. The idea of 'Detachment'
has a slightly different meaning to non-attachment, so perhaps we can look into that.
Sacred Spiral Yoga
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Paul Carlos is the founder of Sacred Spiral Yoga.