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Finding a Purpose Through Non-Possessiveness

“With firmness in non-possessiveness comes complete understanding of the ‘why-ness’ of birth.” -Yoga Sutra 2:39

Every human being searches for his or her purpose in life. This meaning is essential for all of us to live a happy life. Without this sense of meaning, we wander in a very unsettled way throughout our lives. We may even begin to do things that dull the pain of not feeling that life has a purpose and meaning.

I am fascinated that all I have to do, according to the Yoga Sutras, is release my possessiveness (“aparigraha’) and I will clearly know why I have been born. I was taught that things make me happy. I sometimes struggle with that now because Mary and I are doing lots of things and have resigned ourselves to the use of only one car—and that one is an energy hybrid car that regularly gets about 46 miles per gallon. We are very concerned about the amount of global warming greenhouse gases that we put into the air. We even have joined an energy company that supplies all our electricity and heat needs through wind power.

However, it is very inconvenient to have just one car available for our independently lived retirement lives. When Mary has the car, I have to walk or ride my bike or get a ride from someone to come to The Center or do other things. I sometimes long for a car again. This longing is not what yoga encourages. As Pandit Rajmani, my yoga teacher and commentator on the Yoga Sutras, says: “Behind violence, dishonesty, stealing and indulgence (all those actions of which we wish to rid ourselves) lies one clear objective—gaining greater control over the objects of our desire and eliminating those with the potential to stand in our way.” This is the powerful force called “possessiveness” (aparigraha).

Every single one of us wants to have enough to fulfill our desires. However, desires have no limit. When we have one car, we want two. When we have a happy life in one house, we want another. When we have money that gives us the opportunity to travel, we want more money so we can travel more. When our children are successful, we want them to be more successful. Three categories of desire drive us: material wealth, family and progeny, and power and fame. Each is connected to, interestingly enough, the lower three energy centers (chakras) in our bodies. We have a huge desire to be secure, to experience pleasure and to attain power. These desires demand action. We listen to their orders and they become our crosses in life. They lead to serious pain and sadness.

Learning to detach from them is the major task of yoga. Why? Because if we do not detach from or let go of all those desires, they will drive us away from our main goal in life—union with the Divine Source of Life. Yoga does not want us to be destitute, or totally insecure, or filled with misery, or powerless. No! Yoga wants us to be so secure in our experience of love and protection by the Source of Life that we find total pleasure in imitating that loving Source. This gives us the power and freedom to do whatever we need to do at the time.

We can only begin to know this security, pleasure and power through meditation. In meditation, we see what type of desire possesses our mind and then we have an opportunity to renounce it. My desire for fame controls my movement and activities in this world. I am continually working at renouncing my desire for admiration. It is hard because I want to take the glory for the good that I do and have done. However, that is not the truth. My meditation teaches me that my glory really comes from the Lord and Source of my life, my Divine Mother and Father.

Now, my self-talk must be:

“I have all the financial resources, relationships, and abilities I need to fulfill God’s purpose for me in this life.”

“I detach myself completely from clinging to my possessions.”

Toward what desire do you need to become non-possessive?


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