Sunday, October 9, 2011

Aha, Aparigraha

The people who say "it is better to give than to receive" seem like the people with the least stuff, right? They are giving the stuff. They should have the least stuff. I have always like to think of myself as a give-r, not a have-r or (heaven forbid) a keep-er.

So why do I have SO MUCH CRAP?

Have you ever experienced the beauty of this inner dialogue? Well, my darlings, the problem is in thinking we must always be ready to give, because IT IS BETTER TO GIVE than to receive. Do you follow? This little ditty implies that I must always have something to give, lest I ever be in a position to receive. Perhaps this is the reason that I have seventy bottles of wine, socks that don't fit me, and teething rings. This could explain my compulsion to purchase bird seed when it is on clearance, even though I have no birds and putting bird seed out in my neighborhood defies various covenants. My house is teeming with well intentioned purchases or acquisitions that are just standing by, waiting to be given at a moment's notice.

It is true that my friends appreciate my boyscout nature. You can be certain that whenever we travel together I will have the ibuprofen, the lotion, kleenex, bobby pin or quarter that you need. However, it recently dawned on me that it is just a tad unreasonable for me to take a condom with me on a business trip away from my husband, lest someone else need one.

You might be surprised to learn that no one has yet asked me for this valuable and well-traveled commodity in my five years of work travel

Perhaps the examples in your life are closer to reasonable. You have artificial sweetener on hand at home in case someone drops in who needs it, except you haven't had a soul in your home in the last five years requesting an artificial sweetener? You are equally as compelled as I am to obtain every last tiny, crappy hotel soap that has ever crossed your path even though you have yet to use one and you're starting to run out of space in your closet for unused soap (that guests might use if you ever had guests who wanted to use their own individual bar of soap).

What hole in my life am I trying to fill with tiny soaps?

What hole are you trying to fill with tiny soaps?

This is the blessing and curse of this yama. Non-grasping is what we're going for, and yet, we can't grasp for it. We must work towards placing what is clenched tightly in our fists into the open begging hands of the world, both figuratively and literally. Stop taking what you don't need. Start clearing out one thing every day that no longer serves you, whether it is an idea, a habit, or a million tiny soaps. Use them, or at least stop allowing them to use you.

It is better to give than to hoard, to keep, to hold tightly.

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