Sunday, April 05, 2009

Aparigraha

"We shape the clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want."

Lao-Tzu

Shadow on wall of Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon (you can see submissions from around the world of shadow shots at "Hey Harriet" Shadow Shot Sunday)

Aparigraha, according to several yoga traditions is the act of non-possessiveness. According to Rolf Gates, author of "Meditations from the Mat", it is the art of appreciating emptiness in one's life and before we can learn to appreciate that emptiness, we must first learn to let go.

I had used this quote in a post I did nearly two years ago (my, how time flies!). The past two years has given me time to assimilate this thought and reflect on its meaning; like having a deeper perspective.

It is within our nature to not think of our thoughts as being a part of the physical world, or a part of our inventory of possessions. Hoarding is a behavior that we all possess too, and it is in the hoarding of so many thoughts and emotions that interfere with experiencing aparigraha. It requires quieting the mind, emptying it and letting go of expectations. This is hard for us to do because we are wired to react and respond to what is around us at all times. It is a part of our survival mechanism for this physical world. But, in order to transcend to the metaphysical, you do need to empty that 'pot'; surrender to whatever it is to come and trust it. This state of surrender, when achieved is truly blissful because it is without all the distractions of the inner chatter of our minds.

I can't say that I have ever achieved this absolute state of bliss, but I can say that I have experienced various levels of it.

For example, this past Friday, there were several art receptions of some friends of mine (Robert Redus and Barbara Shapiro) taking place in different galleries. I wasn't sure if I could make either of them since I was also expecting out of town company. As it was, my company hadn't arrived yet, and so I did have the chance to attend the receptions. At the first location, I ran into my dear friend, Leau. She had a similar game plan as I did, so we ended up traveling together for the evening. It was so serendipitous! We hadn't seen each other in quite some time and meeting up in this manner and spending the evening together couldn't have happened if we had tried to plan it. For myself, I had let go of having any expectations first about being able to go, and second trying to meet up with anyone to go with me. I was content to let the evening unfold without any orchestration on my part. It ended up being the perfect evening! I truly believe that in that letting go of expectations, it allowed for something even better to happen.

Granted, this is not really a metaphysical example of surrender and letting go of expectations, but it is indeed valid. This is the kind of thing that I call the starting points, or the germination of the process. In this case the process of learning what aparigraha is. It is a more practical, day to day experience of what it can be. It is in the simple exercises like this that can assist in leading you to higher levels of the process.

So, if you find yourself stressing out about something, stop and think about letting go of those thoughts and more importantly, expectations. Surrender to whatever it is that will present itself. I find that when I do so, I am always pleasantly surprised.

10 comments:

Paula said...

Oh how I forget this......

and breathe.........

hope all is well you, post jesse reno ! took me a few days to kinda get my head wrapped around it all...

Sylvia K said...

I know that I'm always drawn to the place where I can find something that I need to learn and that was certainly true today. Thank you so much for your post. The shadow is delightful, your words are priceless and I will print them out to put on my wallboard. Thank you!

Jeri said...

Love your photo and your advice!

Greyscale Territory said...

I have read this post several times and love the ideas in it! I realised that subconsciously I try to empty my mind of school tensions at weekends, having a rule not to deal with marking and preparing lessons. Whenever I let my expectations rule to finish work at weekends, the new week seems to drag along and I get even less work accomplished during the week! (Hope that makes sense!)

Emptying the mind leaves so much fresh room to let it (not plan it) fill again!

Sweet Repose said...

What wonderful ancient history and beautiful monument to a people. Beautiful shot and words well spoken, if it were only that easy!

Paula Scott said...

Paula-I forget this a lot! Always having to remind myself...
Thanks, Sylvia! Wow. I am flattered beyond words.
To Greyscale Territory: yes, what you said does make sense (and i was hoping that my post made sense, but I guess it does). The paradox is that emptying the mind has to be done mindfully.
To Sweet Repose: yes, if only it were that easy!! Sigh...

Leau said...

Ah, yes, it was grand to just let go and be and be in the company of a friend to share it with. smooches

whizkid said...

i was looking forward to see your SSS, and wow, what a photo..with wonderful words to go with it :)

Hey Harriet said...

All makes sense, but as already stated, not always easy. If only! I liked the simple example you gave because it shows how letting go in a very ordinary everyday kind of way can have the most wonderful results! Letting go in such a way, is the only way really to allow ourselves to experience so much more than intended. In a good way! Thanks so much for sharing these words and for your lovely shadow shot.

moongipsies said...

awesome.

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